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Technology has significantly revolutionized how we interact with one another and do business. It enables organizations to streamline operations through automation, create more targeted campaigns through AI, and derive more sales and profits. However, with all these gains comes one major challenge—cyber crime.
According to Cybercrime Magazine, cyber crime will cost organizations up to $10.5 million globally in the next four years. By any standard, this will be a burden on the world’s economy. Currently, one out of every five American small businesses has been a victim of either an attempted or actual cyberattack. Out of these, Vox estimates that 60% close shop within six months of the hacks or breaches. Again, this paints an oblique future for the war against cybercrime.
So, is it necessary for the public to know about the cyber risks they face? The answer is a resounding YES. Here’s why:
According to research by IBM, human error results in over 95% of cyberattacks. If you eliminate employee negligence, nine out of ten potential data breaches will not occur. The first step in eliminating human error is making everybody aware of the cyber risks they face. Occasionally, train your users on threat detection, identification, and prevention. Teach them the different cyber attack vectors, how they manifest, and typical tricks bad cyber actors use.
Your staff is your first defense line against cyberattacks, and ironically, the weakest one too. Let’s take ransomware, for example—most ransomware attacks begin as phishing scams. Phishing is essentially cyber attackers using false identities to dupe your users into divulging critical credentials like logins. The actors target human negligence to gain entrance into your networks. So, the more informed and “cyber security-savvy” your staff is, the less your company’s chances of falling prey to ransomware and other cyberattack vectors.
A recent global study by Tanium shows that over 90% of companies registered a spike in data breaches last year. Well, cybersecurity experts primarily attribute this sudden rise to the COVID-19 pandemic. And reasonably so—bad cyber actors never waste crises or pandemics. They leverage the uncertainty and urgency in such scenarios against unsuspecting netizens. And the COVID-19 epidemic is not any different.
In the initial stages of the pandemic, governments globally instituted lockdowns and social distance requirements. That left businesses with two options, to close or adopt the work-from-home model. Most organizations, and probably yours too, took the latter route. However, they did not take enough time to evaluate the long-term cybersecurity effects of their decisions. Even if you wanted to, there was no time to take this security measure. As a result, employees had to carry company gadgets home and use personal devices to access corporate networks.
With the report work stations scattered in different homes miles away, it becomes increasingly challenging to monitor these gadgets and guarantee their safety. Unless you have the financial muscles to send IT experts to every employee’s home, which is realistically impossible, you only have one choice—teaching your staff the cyber risks they face and how to combat them.
Without regular access to the IT support team, your staff now has to handle routine cybersecurity procedures like patches, system updates, network assessments, and so on their own. Therefore, they require proper, regular training on cyber crime detection and prevention.
In the beginning, ransomware attacks were simple hacks on personal gadgets. Cyber actors would introduce a malicious file into your device, encode it to deny access, and then ask for a few bucks as ransom. Over time, however, it’s grown into one of the most prevalent and lethal cyber attack vectors. According to a recent study by the Beazley Group, ransomware increased by over 130% in 2020. By the second quarter of this year, Reuters estimated that almost 1500 U.S. businesses had been ransomware victims.
While the numbers are scary, even scarier is how these attacks are aggravating in complexity. As information is becoming the new oil, cyber attackers are increasingly going after corporate data. And their focus is no longer just denying you access and demanding ransom. No. They are now mining crucial credentials and selling them to the highest bidders in the dark web or publishing them if you don’t agree to their ransom demands. They are also using more sophisticated techniques that make earlier detection almost impossible.
A single ransomware attack can cost your business up to $1.85 million. Unless you have some emergency funds you’ve set aside to cater for these expenses, this can be a significant financial setback. It’s no-brainer that over 60% of small and medium-sized businesses close within six months of such incidents.
The bad news is that everyone is a potential target and cyber crimes get more complex and severe by the day. Your only recourse is information—ensure that you and all your users are well-aware of the risks you face and how to prevent them.
LeadingIT offers 24/7, all-inclusive, fast, and friendly technology and cybersecurity support for nonprofits, manufacturers, schools, accounting firms, religious organizations, government, and law offices with 10-200 employees across the Chicagoland area.
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