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Everything You Need to Know About Cybersecurity
Wed Mar 29, 2023 | jean-francois roberge
For nearly all businesses, the realities about cybersecurity are grim. Cyberattacks continue to plague all businesses, including both large organizations and small-to-medium enterprises. No one, it seems, is safe from these cleverly plotted out attacks by cybercriminals. But most of these attacks can be chalked up to one serious oversight: human error. A lack of knowledge surrounding the types of cyberattacks that exist or the damaging effects one can have on a business can ultimately spell-out demise for businesses.
The best way to fight back against cyberattacks is to learn and to teach critical thinking skills to your team. Business leaders can carry their teams into a new era of cybersecurity awareness, helping to mitigate the risks of an attack and support their IT teams in the process.
So, what are the most common risks businesses face today? And should teams prepare for potential disaster?
Here’s everything you need to know about cybersecurity.
How Cyberattacks Slip Through Unnoticed
In truth, most cyberattacks happen because of human error. This can be anything from clicking on a malicious link to forgetting to update your cybersecurity defenses. By 2025, it’s expected that over half of significant cyber incidents will be caused by human failure (Gartner, 2023). Some employees receive an influx of emails every day at work, anywhere from a hundred to a thousand emails could be filtering in through your inbox. Throughout a long, stressful workday, this can leave room for mistakes. And mistakes are only natural. They happen to all of us. But when it comes to a cyberattack, a mistake can mean disaster. Phishing scams with seemingly harmless links or documents attached are primary sources of cyberattacks slipping through. Since many employees download documents throughout their day, the basic steps for reading over links, thinking critically, and double-checking email addresses can fall by the wayside. One wrong click and a business can lose everything they’ve worked hard to build.
But aren’t there other defences in place that can stop this from happening? Yes and no.
Most people tend to turn their attention to IT teams during times of cyber struggles. These teams often end up bearing the brunt of the work in fixing problems while also receiving a large (often unfair) amount of blame. Studies recently have shown that IT teams are experiencing some serious levels of burnout as a result. It’s currently estimated that by 2025, nearly half of cybersecurity leaders will change jobs, with 25% changing roles due to work-related stressors (Gartner, 2023). Burnout in the cybersecurity industry thus poses an even greater threat to businesses than even human error.
If someone makes a seemingly harmless mistake like clicking on a malicious link, they expect that an IT team will be there to support them through the fallout. Except, burnout rates and stress amongst the IT personnel means that there are less and less defences in place to prevent disaster from occurring. This means that businesses are going to be dealing with even more problems in the future. And those problems could mean serious disaster for businesses.
What Really Happens After a Cyberattack?
It’s fine, you might think after clicking a malicious link, I’m sure nothing bad will happen. Except by now a cybercriminal is already sitting in the background, waiting to take your valuable data hostage.
What’s more, once data is seized by a cybercriminal, the odds of getting it back are slim to none. Even if business leaders choose to pay the ransom, there’s no guarantee that the cybercriminal will give everything back. Even if they do, this still doesn’t mean businesses are now clear from any danger or damages.
Your Data Continues to Be Sold:
Data that has been taken hostage by cybercriminals is often quickly uploaded to the dark web, which continues to grow at a “rate that defies quantification”(Cybersecurity Ventures). From there, cybercriminals are able to exchange this information and continue to earn money off of the attack. Some of the most valuable information is personal data about you or your clients. Names, addresses, phone numbers, and even your passwords are exchanged from one cybercriminal to the next. Even after countless hours of trying to fight back and millions of dollars spent to recover your lost data, cybercriminals maintain the upper hand.
Naturally, clients want answers. How could this happen? Why was their data stolen in the first place? What will be done about it now that it’s being held hostage?
You’ll Face Fines and Legal Fees:
Damaged reputations are just the start of the losses businesses will face after a cyberattack. Any business who has lost the data of a client will have to deal with diminished credibility, possible legal action on the part of clients, or fines depending on where they’re operating out of. Québec, for example, has strict laws in place that are there to protect the data of clients.
Québec’s Law 25 means organizations are required to inform individuals if their data has been compromised and to report any confidentiality incidents. If they fail to meet the legal obligations and can’t prove they have done everything in their power to protect private information, then they could face penalties such as fines of up to $25 million (Les Affaires, 2022).
And these costs are just the start of potential legal fees to come. If clients decide to take businesses to court over a class action lawsuit, then there are even more costs to consider. Paying out each customer whose information was obtained during an attack could mean losing the last of your financial resources that you have, leading your business to go under.
You’ll Lose Hours:
When a cyberattack occurs, it’s often all hands on deck. Every team will be expected to help out in some way. Hours of your employees’ time will be spent reviewing the security practices that are currently in place, contacting clients whose data has potentially been seized, and working out strategies for recovering your company’s reputation. This will mean interruptions to your day-to-day tasks, delayed response and delivery time on services for customers, and losing out on potential prospects.
It should come as no surprise that many businesses don’t recover from a serious cyberattack. Financial losses alone would be enough to wreak havoc on any organization. Couple that with lost hours and customers, and you’re looking at the perfect recipe for disaster. But there are some preventative measures that you can take to keep this from happening. It all starts with knowing what to look out for.
Understanding Different Types of Cyberattacks
The best way to avoid data being stolen is to know what potential threats are out there. We’ve previously talked about the types of cyberattacks that exist, but let’s do a refresher together.
Some of the most common cyberattacks include:
Denial-of-Service (Dos)/ Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDos)
These attacks overwhelm your system’s resources, making it impossible for your system to respond to any of your requests. DoS and DDoS attacks can start by infecting one unit and work their way through your entire network of devices. Attackers infiltrate by sending false requests to the system, flooding it and overwhelming it until you ultimately have to resort to shutting down the unit. This gives hackers time to plant seeds for future attacks.
Ever have someone listen in on your conversations and interject at the worst moments? That’s what having a man-in-the-middle attack is like. Hackers wait patiently between two people, networks, or devices with users totally unaware. They listen in and modify messages that are being sent between victims, while also using “replay attacks” to use old messages from a victim to use as a disguise.
One of the most common cyberattacks is known as phishing attacks. The perpetrator will essentially “fish” for access to your device through malicious emails and links intended to trick you into giving up your private information.
Malware is a family of cyberattacks that come in many forms. This can be anything from Trojans (malicious programs hiding inside seemingly trustworthy ones) and ransomware. Of these attacks, ransomware tends to be some of the most dangerous for businesses. Cybercriminals will target businesses by holding valuable client data hostage, promising only to release it once a ransom is paid. But even then, the data is often uploaded onto the dark web and the attacks won’t cease coming after that.
These are just a few examples of some common cyberattacks that businesses face on the daily. Navigating the cyberworld has continued to become trickier over the last several years, but the first step to protecting your private data is knowing the names of the attacks you could face. To learn more about the cyberattacks that are out there, you can read our previous blog about cyber security awareness here.
Prevention Starts with Being Prepared
There’s no way of guaranteeing 100% safety all the time. But there are things you can do to protect your business and clients both before and in the event of a cyberattack. As we said above, learning the names of cyberattacks is the first step to take. Educating yourself and your team about the threats that exist on the internet is essential to protecting your valuable data.
Then there’s ensuring that your IT team is supported. With burnout rates set to increase, having several layers of protection and using more than one IT team can help lend your in-house IT personnel the extra layer of support they need. Combining outsourced managed security services and in-house IT will give your team and your clients that extra layer of protection that you need.
And of course, it’s important to be prepared should a disaster strike. To ensure you are safe from potential financial losses, your business should consider investing in cyber risk insurance. You can also work with your team to create a data disaster recovery plan and a cybersecurity incident response plan, which will put in place strong action plans should you experience any attacks.
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it all alone. Turning to experts for advice about how to prepare for cyberattacks and what to look out for will give your team the edge against cybercriminals.
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to take action. Contact us today to learn how to keep your data safe.