20 years ago, handling your cybersecurity was a simple task: you were dealing with an individual attacker with no access to email or the internet, often just attacking for fun rather than to earn a profit. These days cybercriminals earn a living from attacking businesses and CEOs, and often work in large organisations with access to almost unlimited resources to aide in breaching your defences. Not only that, but we give them so many more avenues to attack than we used to; they can send attacks via email, use our social media for information gathering, and target their attacks with all the personal data we put online. Businesses lost over a billion pounds last year to cybercrime, and cybercriminals cost the global economy another 400 billion in damage and lost productivity. It’s plain to see we need to protect ourselves from these attacks.
Every company has vulnerabilities – it’s unavoidable these days. But with some education and preparation, there’s no need to panic or fear. There’s no guarantee with cybersecurity, but if you are smart with your solutions you can minimise risk. You need to look at your security in layers; no individual solutions can protect you against all the threats you’ll face. Let’s take a look at some of those threats now:
91% of attacks begin via email, so you should be using an email security package that tests attachments and links before delivering the email to ensure only safe email is passed to the end users.
The next layer of protection should be on the endpoint and you should be using antivirus that uses smarter and more modern detection methods alongside the aging signature-based system. I recommend contacting your IT/technical department to make sure all computers have applied all Windows, Java, and Adobe updates as well; the WannaCry ransomware used in the recent NHS attack was able to exploit a vulnerability in many unpatched systems to spread itself quickly. Additionally, you can configure these systems to ensure only trusted applications can run on end user devices, locking down vulnerable third-party applications and further securing your users’ devices.
The next layer would be protecting the perimeter with a firewall. Not all firewalls are equal though; yours should monitor where the internet traffic is going and perform threat detection, prevent intrusion, and even run its own antivirus to give additional security at the network level, before threats even reach your device.
As always with all this security clicking an infected link can still lead to disaster. Training the end user is extremely important to cut the risks of spear-phishing, landing on infected webpages, and other threats. Cybercriminals are always one step ahead, and while your layered security will catch almost all threats, some will get through and an educated employee can mean the difference between a normal productive day and disaster.
WannaCry spread via many means including phishing emails; meaning with a little training the users who received infected emails would have known how to avoid the attack and a lot of downtime could have been avoided.
It never seems likely that you’ll suffer a major disaster such as a fire or big ransomware attack – until it happens. These disasters happen all the time, and often spell the end for an unprepared business! An image based backup is your insurance policy against fire, flood, or systems failure.
With ransomware if you can’t recover your data quickly and confidently you would need to pay the criminals their ransom, and even then there is no guarantee you’ll get your data back.
Imagine it – you walk into the office one day, and a leak has caused major water damage to your servers. Your email is offline, none of your staff can access their files, and urgent work is piling up with staff stuck on standby. Suddenly questions are rushing through your head – who do I call? Are there emergency technicians nearby? How do I replace the destroyed kit? Where are the backups so my staff can get back to work ASAP?
A tested disaster recovery plan answers all those questions, and restores logic to the chaos. In the midst of a company-wide panic, you simply pull out the disaster recovery plan and follow the tried and tested steps to get the whole company back up and running in no time.
You should constantly review your security products and new threats to ensure your systems are fully protected; this should include regularly testing your disaster recovery processes as well.
A Quick Recap
Cybercriminals make serious money breaking into businesses like yours, so they will use every tool at their disposal to break in; but with the proper layers of security in place you can rest easy that they’ll walk away from your business empty-handed.
Antivirus protects every user on an individual level from most everyday threats, while a firewall protects your whole perimeter from attack. Email is a huge source of attacks, but with some email protection and well-trained users you don’t need to worry.
And should all else fail, a good backup system and disaster recovery plan will see you back in action no matter the circumstances.
We are specialists in cybersecurity and providing advice and solutions to small and medium businesses. If you are concerned that you might not have everything covered please come and visit us at our stand at the Open4Business event on 17th October 2017 at the King’s Centre, Burgess Hill.