Even the briefest investigation of the cyber security discussions littering the internet will yield some frightening statistics.
For example, Irish cybercrime rates were at double the average global level in 2018. These businesses suffered financial losses of up to €810,000, not including the hefty costs required for their recovery efforts. In some cases, these resulting investigations cost just as much as the money lost due to the crime itself!
Unfortunately, as cyber security threats increase and evolve, the start of 2020 brings a number of new concerns to business owners who are determined to keep their companies far away from these statistics.
But first, what exactly is a cyberattack, and what do these cyber security statistics mean for Irish business owners striving to protect their institutions from these increasing threats? That’s where this business guide to cyber security 2020 will begin.
In order to fully grasp the increasing need for cyber security in 2020, business owners must first take time to better understand cybercriminals, how changing technology contributes to the forces that drive them, and the security holes that tempt these criminals into theft.
A cybercrime can be defined as any technological threat. Whether these threats are successful or not, businesses who fall prey to these crimes have plenty at stake—their time, money, and reputation may all be sacrificed even in the event of an ultimately unsuccessful attack.
Phishing attempts, exposure to viruses and malware, and digital theft are all examples of cybercrimes that put Irish businesses at risk.
Cybercriminals are most frequently motivated by the acquisition of data or the creation of opportunities for individual extortion, both of which can lead to monetary gain for the cybercriminal and massive losses, both financial and otherwise, for the targeted business.
2020’s Biggest Cyber Security Threats
In an effort to get business owners thinking ahead about the state of their own cyber security readiness, IT professionals across the world have predicted the top threats for 2020 and beyond. A few threats that all businesses should be aware of (and prepared for) include:
1. Phishing Attacks
When scammers send mass emails or text messages in an attempt to gather personal data, they are “phishing.” This threat has been around for a while, but in 2020 it remains one of the top threats to Irish businesses.
2. Ransomware and Related Deepfakes
As cybercriminals have continued to develop strategies for personal extortion, they have begun to pair ransomware with the use of deepfakes, artificial audio or video recordings used to frighten, intimidate, and blackmail victims.
3. Cloud Security Breaches
Despite the popularity of storing vast amounts of data in the cloud, information housed in the cloud has notoriously become a target for cybercriminals. As uses for the cloud continue to emerge throughout the decade, more and more crimes will be directed towards the cloud and the data within.
Real-Life Examples of Cybercrime
Reading about nothing but hypothetical situations may not have the same impact as reviewing some real-life examples of devastating cyber security breaches.
To truly grasp the danger that cybercrime imparts on small businesses, it is important for business owners to understand that even the largest corporations have been recent victims. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you.
You may remember, for example, the devastating effects of one of the largest data breaches in history, when Yahoo fell prey to a breach affecting 3 billion user accounts. Other organisations such as Amazon, Adobe, Uber, Sony’s PlayStation, eBay, and many others have also been victims of cyberattacks that have left additional hundreds of millions of users exposed.
Instead of viewing these vignettes as scare tactics, it’s critical that you instead regard them as valuable warnings.
Protecting Your Business from Cyber Attacks
With some thoughtful preparation and careful planning, you can rest assured knowing that there are ways for your business to defend against even these tremendous security risks.
Partnership with a quality IT provider should be the basis of any business’s cyber security strategy, as it is this third-party expertise and reliability that can make all the difference between a business with robust and effective security measures and a business putting itself at risk.
Secondly, business owners must work diligently to create a culture of vigilance within their ranks. Each and every employee must be educated in basic cyber security protocol and commit themselves to upholding these safety measures without fail.
As a business owner, take charge of your employees’ cyber security education by informing them of:
- Basic virus protection measures such as firewalls, anti-virus programs, and software patches. Ensure that a system administrator keeps these programs up to date.
- Additional precautions for mobile devices. More and more businesses are going mobile. From laptops to tablets, devise and implement policies that dictate how employees can use these devices to access company data.
- Data protection strategies including regular backups, encryption, and secure password creation.
It is this marriage of human diligence and expert technical support that will keep your organisation as safe as possible. After all, technology and its related security measures are only as good as the people using them!
Implementing a Plan for Disaster Recovery
There are, of course, always going to be situations that are out of your control. Even businesses with the most updated and robust security measures in place will occasionally fall prey to a merciless cyberattack. When this is the case, what stands between these businesses and failure?
It’s all in the reaction and recovery. The most prepared businesses will embrace business continuity planning to help them recover from cyber security breaches and the resulting fallout. By developing a series of steps to take during the “worst-case” scenario and implementing this plan to the fullest, businesses can rest easier with additional peace of mind.
Perhaps you and your business partners are only just now educating yourselves about the implications of cybercrime risk, or maybe you already have policies in place to protect your business against cyberattacks but are hoping to develop more effective recovery strategies in 2020.
Wherever you are in the implementation of your own business’s cyber security protocols, don’t forget the basics, and remember that your education is never finished. Cybercriminals won’t stop, and neither should you!