Cybersecurity risk is rampant despite the massive and unprecedented efforts of IT companies in the past years. It is dreaded by individuals and businesses alike. The probability of exposure, damage, or loss resulting from a cyberattack or data breach can be costly.
A popular cyberattack, like a data breach, has a massive negative business impact and often arise from insufficiently protected data. The digital and information age opened a Pandora’s box filled with all kinds of cyber threats that increase with our reliance on computers, networks, programs, social media, and big data.
Since a cybersecurity threat puts a business at risk, business owners must prioritize cybersecurity along with other elements of their business. What good is a beautiful house without a strong foundation?
Security and data protection are part of the robust framework on which great businesses are founded. Businesses teams must be aware of the different threats and trends in cybersecurity to keep their places as secure as can be.
The scale of cybercrime’s intensity and ingenuity is growing. It is a must for businesses to have improved cybersecurity risk management as part of their business risk profile. Cybersecurity ceased to be a tech problem but has turned into a business problem.
Let us see what kinds of threats pose harm to businesses nowadays.
Common Sources of Threats for Businesses
The six common sources of cyber threats for businesses are the following:
- Insiders and service providers
- Developers of substandard products and services
- Poor configuration of cloud services
To determine the cyber-risk profile of your company, you need to assess what information will be valuable and prone to unauthorized access and at risk of being compromised.
You also need to know sensitive financial and reputational information that cannot be made public. ID records that need to stay secured include consumer’s names, addresses, social security numbers, biometric recognition records, and other such details.
These sources of cyberthreats potentially target your customer and employee data, intellectual property, third-party vendors, product quality and safety, contracts and pricing, business plans, and financial data.
Here are some vulnerabilities in cybersecurity that businesses must be aware of:
Common Vulnerabilities Hackers Exploit
- People (Employees, Third-Party Vendors)
Hackers’ favorite target in a business or organization is its people. A team is only as strong as its weakest member. One slip up from a careless employee who opens a phishing email or clicks on a malicious link with malware can put the entire business in jeopardy. These attacks may cause the business to lose money and compromise its reputation.
- Passwords (Privileged Access)
Utilize strong password, two-factor authentication (2FA), even biometric authentication on any account associated with your business. Practice strict privilege access management for all employees of the company.
Work accounts, for instance, should not have personalized passwords but should use IT-issued passwords that should not be changed. Administrative passwords should also be limited to a need-to-know business.
IT should be the one responsible for updating these passwords every 30 or 60 days. It may not be foolproof, but these steps do add layers of protection for your business.
Often, make it clear that workers do not exchange their credentials with someone else. Although this could seem odd, recent UK lawmakers have confirmed that they regularly share their login details with their employees, including interns.
- Patch Management
Exploiting a Windows OS vulnerability dubbed as the EternalBlue led to two examples of attacks that could have been prevented if only software updates were current. In the WannaCry attack and Petya outbreak. In both attacks, Eternal Blue allowed the malware to spread within corporate networks without any user interaction and propagate itself.
The patch for WannaCry was released two months before the attack started and blew quickly. If only the patch were installed, the WannaCry attack would have been stopped. The damage cost to corporate networks would have been averted.
As if all the information and publicity that the WannaCry outbreak got was not enough, EternalBlue was used again for the Petya outbreak just a month later. It goes to show how important it is to update systems so that bugs and fixes can be patched.
- Partners (Third-Party or Fourth-Party Companies or Vendors)
Businesses must be careful that they work with third-party companies and vendors that have robust cybersecurity protocols. If not, these interactions will become liabilities. The vulnerabilities in your partners’ systems can be a vulnerability for yours.
Third-party companies that have weak security systems can be used by hackers to gain access to your network.
Marriott International, an American company, providing world-class hospitality services globally, was attacked this way. Because they handle a massive portfolio of hotel franchises worldwide, put them at risk for third-party attacks.
Hackers infiltrated and stole sensitive user information amounting to around 500 million through a hotel brand they acquired two years before the data breach was discovered. Starwood Hotels’ systems were already compromised in 2014, but the breach was only finally detected in 2018.
Marriot International quickly contained the incident. Security experts were able to pinpoint the cause of the breach was a reservation done through a Starwood hotel property.
The data intrusion was blamed on a Chinese Intelligence Agency attempting to collect data from US civilians. The sort of information compromised includes the customer’s name, email addresses, passport data, and even their credit card numbers and expiry dates.
Although Marriot International insists that their payment card number information has been encrypted using Advanced Standard Encryption (AES-128) and that it will require two components to decode the details, they have announced that they do not rule out that the elements needed to decode the details may have been stolen.
The vendors or online sellers in your business may be trustworthy to avoid malicious attacks and to keep your data management system intact. Cybersecurity should be a top priority for you and all partners and vendors wanting to do business with you and representing your brand in any way, shape, or form. Do not allow partners to compromise your company’s data or security. No partnership is worth the loss and damage if hackers can invade your system.
- BYOD Systems
Since the rise of remote working, BYOD systems (Bring Your Device) have also increased in distributed teams. It is a novel idea that many businesses welcome in their companies. The convenience of not being limited in accessing your files from anywhere and working remotely was a good selling point as to why businesses have embraced BYOD.
However, the BYOD system also brings security concerns because personal devices will not have the same level of security and accountability as corporate devices. Cyber attackers can exploit it as an entry point to your business and your network.
Should a business adhere to BYOD, it also needs to have strict BYOD policies that employees must follow. Educating your employees on cybersecurity is crucial in this regard because if they are not aware, they can compromise the company. If it does happen, they would not even know to be aware the exploit was done through their device.
You also need to educate remote developers about cybersecurity, along with your team. When you create a culture of cybersecurity in your businesses, from your team to your remote workers and third-party vendors, cybersecurity becomes everybody’s business.
Conclusion: Cybersecurity Brings Strength to Any Business
Cybersecurity risk management is a never-ending process. Businesses cannot rest on their laurels because new attacks and malware are developed by the day. Cybersecurity is a team effort between business owners, IT development staff, partners, and even users of your website as well.
Developing a robust and cyber-secure environment also needs input from governments, leaders, businesses, and customers. To be equipped for the next generation of cybercrime takes all of us working together to keep ourselves and the company secure.
The best practices in cybersecurity can stabilize a business, harden its security, and keep the business growing strong and able to mitigate attacks at the onset.