Understanding The Importance of Cybersecurity for Your Business

Apr 7, 2017

When you were starting your business you were faced with some very pressing issues.

You needed to perfect your business plan

Had to secure proper business financing

You got up to speed with Canadian tax planning and even made sure to know what to expect in the first year – the good, the bad and the ugly.

And, now that you are in business, a myriad of other different concerns will all compete for your attention. But, of those issues, none will surpass the importance of cybersecurity.

 

The Importance of Cybersecurity 

We are living in an unprecedented era of technological advancement.

Our fast-paced, local and global economies rely more on technology than ever before.

And while technology may not run the world just yet, it is increasingly becoming a more common and critical feature of all of our lives.

With great progress comes great advantages. But, sadly, much risk too.

It seems that almost every week we read new headlines about how cyber criminals have caused untold damage to a small business, or how easily hackers have brought an organization to its knees.

As the world becomes ever more interconnected, individuals, businesses, corporations, and governments have all got to pay closer attention to cyber security than ever before.  

A data breach of any kind can truly devastate your business, your hard work and your reputation in an instant. 

In this article, we’re delving into the world of online security. 

Let’s take a closer look at just how important it really is. 

 

Understanding The Importance of Cybersecurity for Your Business

 

What is a Cyber Attack?

Before we get into a deeper discussion, let’s understand what a cyber attack actually is. 

In the business world, most organizations are heavily dependent on technology.

A cyber attack is a deliberate assault on those technologies. It is a concerted exploitation of any computer system vulnerabilities for malicious purposes.

And, the bad news here is that if we are not completely aware of the potential threat, we are all at risk to such attacks. 

No one online is immune to the possibility of a cyber hack of some kind, and that includes individuals, businesses, corporations, and even governments.

So, whether you’re heading up a sole proprietorship or leading the way for hundreds of employees in a growing business, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated.

 

Who Is The Target of a Cyber Attack?

Most of us have heard of some of the devastating attacks that have faced some of the biggest global brands in recent times.

In the wake of these attacks, many small and medium businesses may be lured into a false sense of security. After all, it’s only up to big companies to worry about the importance of cybersecurity. The cyber criminals are targeting the biggest of big fish, right?

Wrong.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only are cyber attacks on the rise, more than ever before, cybercriminals are targeting small and medium businesses

For large corporations, absorbing the cost of a cyber attack may be possible, but for smaller business, a vicious attack may push entrepreneurs into bankruptcy. 

 

The Consequences of a Cyber Attack for Your Business

In terms of the direct and indirect cost of a cyber attack, the very real importance of cyber security becomes vividly clear.

Often, the true cost of an attack only becomes tangible two years or more after the event

The direct costs will be obvious – stolen funds, bad publicity, website downtown, etc, but the hidden costs can be substantial and can amount to 90 percent of the total impact on your business.  

Deloitte identifies the following 14 impacts of a cyber incident on a business:

 

Direct Costs

  • Notifying customers after a breach
  • Protecting customers post-breach
  • Regulatory compliance – fines
  • Public relations and crisis management communications
  • Attorney fees – litigation
  • Cybersecurity improvements for the future
  • Technical investigations to see what caused the incident, etc

 

Hidden Costs

  • Huge insurance premium increases
  • Increased cost to raise debt
  • Disruption or destruction of operations
  • Customer relationships will take a hammering
  • Value of lost contract revenue
  • Devaluation of trade name
  • Possible loss of intellectual property 

The importance of cybersecurity has never been more evident. As an entrepreneur, are you and your business in a position to face these consequences? 

 

The Types of Cyber Attack

As an ever evolving form of criminality, hackers are constantly creating new ways to damage your system. 

If there is the slightest chink in your security armor, they will find it and they will exploit it to the full. 

Here are some of the most common, known forms of attack that highlight the importance of cybersecurity.

 

1. A Malware Attack

Malware is code with malicious intent. It takes the form of Trojans, worms, and viruses that infiltrate your system.  

Most commonly, it is introduced to a system through simple channels like email attachments or software downloads.

How to Prevent It

  • Avoid clicking on suspect links
  • Don’t download attachments from untrusted or unknown senders
  • Have robust firewalls in place
  • Constantly update those firewalls
  • Educate every staff member about the risks posed
  • Ensure that your computer’s operating system always uses the most up-to-date security programs

 

2. Malvertising

With malvertising, you unsuspectingly download malicious code to your business system by clicking on an affected advertisement. Sometimes, these advertisements or websites don’t know that they have been compromised.

How to Prevent It

  • Ensure all your software and operating systems are up to date
  • Educate your employees and yourself about web security of this kind
  • Avoid any ads that look suspect – think get rich schemes, etc.
  • A rule to follow: If an ad is selling something that is too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true 

 

3. Password Attack

This type of attack is straightforward in nature. The cyber criminal will try to gain access to your system by cracking your passwords.

How to Prevent It

  • Have strong passwords across every system for every employee
  • Use a combination of upper and lower case letters in each password
  • Use symbols and numbers throughout
  • Never use the same passwords for different applications 
  • Constantly change your passwords at regular intervals. Once every month, etc.

 

4. Phishing

Phishing attacks always highlight the importance of cybersecurity. Ever-so-devious, these attacks come in the form of a request for information from a trusted third party. 

In this, criminals send you emails masquerading as trusted entities like your bank, your insurance company, etc. 

They will then try to dupe you or your employees into clicking on links and other fraudulent material so they can either install malicious software onto your computer or steal information outright.

Phishing attacks have become more sophisticated in recent years, and though they have mainly come in email form in the past, they are now infiltrating the world of Social Media.

How to Prevent It

  • Be aware that major reputable companies will never ask you for information via email
  • Verify any requests from institutions that arrive via email over the phone
  • Don’t use the phone number provided in the email. Find one in some prior written documentation from the company
  • Educate your employees and have a company policy to prevent this type of attack

 

5. Software That Isn’t Software

This type of malware will masquerade as legitimate software that your business may need, but in actuality, it will be rogue software designed to infect your system.

Coming in the form of security alerts, you will be warned that your system is at risk and to protect it, you will need to download software by clicking here or signing up there.

How to Prevent It:

  • Your firewall is the best defense against this type of cyber attack. Make sure that it is always fully updated
  • A great anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are also a must 

 

6. Visiting a Site

Called drive-by downloads, these types of attacks usually don’t involve any user action other than visiting a legitimate website.

Malware like this can often be downloaded by exploiting a vulnerability in your operating system.

How to Prevent It:

  • Always ensure your operating systems and other software programs are up to date
  • If possible, limit the number of browser add-ons you use

 

7. Man in the Middle (MITM)

Impersonation of the endpoints in an online information exchange are becoming increasingly common, and if done correctly, the man in the middle can gain access to all the information you are transferring.

The importance of cybersecurity is magnified here because a man in the middle can gain access to your information via non-encrypted wireless access points. 

How to Prevent It: 

  • Only use encrypted wireless access points that use WPA security at a minimum
  • Make sure that any website you use has an HTTPS connection
  • Consider investing in a VPN (virtual private network)

 

8. DDOS Attack (Distributed Denial of Service)

A DDOS attack threatens disruption of the service to a network. 

Attackers send high volumes of data or traffic through the network by making enormous connection requests, thereby overloading the network completely.

Under such pressure, the network itself folds.

How to Prevent It:

  • Regularly update your software
  • Constantly monitor your data flow for unusual spikes in traffic

 

Your Business and The Importance of Cyber Security

You have spent considerable time and effort creating your business up to this point. 

Coming up with incredible ideas, providing it with the perfect name, and perfecting the right business approach have all received your eager attention.

Now that you have built your business, it’s time to protect it. 

For all of its enduring opportunities, the online world is full of potential threats and hazards. 

Do the smart thing and make sure that you not only understand the importance of cybersecurity but that you actively take steps to prevent cyber attacks. 

The future of your business may well depend on it.  


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