We know today's world is driven by technological advancement that has made storing and sharing information as quick and easy as ever. Businesses of all sizes are dependent on reliable technology that allows them to keep their organization running smoothly, and reach their customers in order to sell their products and services. Unfortunately, this also opens businesses up to a variety of cyber threats that may disrupt regular operations, weaken customer trust by damaging brand reputation, and even cause significant financial losses.
Take the recent cybersecurity incident at Indigo Books & Music Inc. for example. The company was faced with server issues that initially prevented customers from completing debit, credit card, and gift card transactions in-store. They were eventually able to regain in-store capability for these payment methods, but Indigo was subsequently forced to suspend all online shopping functionality through their website.
Fortunately, no sensitive customer information was accessed during this breach according to Indigo. Their online store has been slowly rolling out again, but with continued limitations on the purchasing of some products. However, Indigo has likely missed out on a high volume of sales due to this incident, with some experts estimating up to millions of dollars in losses.
An effective way to reduce the chances of a cyberattack on your business is to be aware of your organization's cyber risk level. This can be determined through a risk assessment, which identifies potential issues in your cybersecurity infrastructure.
What is Cyber Risk?
Cyber risk refers to the potential harm that can result from the use of compromised or vulnerable digital technologies. Cyber risk is best measured through a professional assessment that can evaluate the level of risk that a given business faces (ranging from high, medium, low, to zero-risk).
The aftermath of a cyberattack can be especially devastating for small businesses, as limited planning and resources means they are less likely to catch and manage threats in time. Sometimes, small businesses may not even realize they are at risk before it's too late. Therefore, it's good to keep in mind that it's not a matter of "if" a business will experience cybersecurity threats, but "when".
Navigating cyber risk means businesses must take measures to be vigilant and proactive in a constantly evolving threat landscape. A good way to to start regularly evaluating your business' preparedness is by implementing a risk management strategy.
Risk management usually involves a step-by-step approach to identifying, assessing, and addressing various threats to your business' continuity, a major aspect of this being cyber security. Consider what kind of crucial information needs to be protected in the event of a data breach. This could include maintaining regular operations, guarding your customer's sensitive data, and/or your company's intellectual property. Without monitoring threats, business owners are making themselves a target for cyber attacks.
Common Types of Cyberattacks
- Malware - A malicious program or digital file that causes damage to the user's computer system. This may include data alteration, loss, or theft, spying on user activity, and/or generally the disabling of key computer functions. A common method of delivering malware is through social engineering attacks, which manipulate users into unknowingly installing the malware themselves.
- Phishing & Baiting - Relating to the previous point, phishing attacks are executed by tricking users to give up sensitive information, likely through malicious websites that are disguised as legitimate. If users input information like login credentials, cybercriminals can gain access to an organization's data without having to exploit technological vulnerabilities.
- Ransomware Attacks - A form of malware that prohibits computer or data access to users until a ransom is paid. This attack is often delivered through phishing, interacting with suspicious websites, or by identifying and taking advantage of weak cybersecurity infrastructure.
- Data Breaches - Security incidents in which confidential data is accessed, shared, leaked, or stolen by an unauthorized user. While breaches can vary in their impact on a business, the most harmful examples involve the acquisition of financial details, health information, and other sensitive customer or employee data.
Why Risk Assessments are Important
Security assessments are a great first step to manage cyber risk. Here are a several reasons why you should consider one:
Minimize Overall Risk
Hackers are always trying to find new ways to exploit the flaws in your network. Stay ahead of the game by having regular IT security risk assessments. These assessments will help you detect and minimize any potential weaknesses before they become a liability. Many companies take a reactive "break-fix" approach to their cybersecurity, but those that take a more proactive stance by regularly monitoring and gathering data can reduce threats and better protect their data, prevent IT-related downtime, and cut costs.
Secure Your Connection
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks can be a major vulnerability for businesses, exposing your company's data to potential cybercriminal activity. Your IT service provider should take an approach that simultaneously secures your network without complicating day-to-day device usage and negatively impacting employee productivity.
Ensure Regulatory Compliance
Adhering to general compliance standards might not be enough when it comes to protecting your business, as these strategies do not provide the necessary customization to address your unique business needs. Standardized compliance measures may provide a foundation for cyber safety, but they might not help you address specific weaknesses in your business.
Encouraging Employee Awareness
Safe employee practices are a key part of your business' defense. A risk assessment will help educate your team on common threats to look out for, and determine how user safety could be better implemented as part of your overall cybersecurity strategy.
Reduce Long-term Costs
SMBs should plan for the likelihood that they will be targeted by a data breach. In Canada, just under one fifth of businesses have been affected by a breach, leading to the disruption of their operations. Additionally, IT downtimes can cost companies valuable productivity hours and up to thousands of dollars per minute. Taking a proactive approach to your company's network security will be worth it in the long run. An assessment can be used as a preventative measure to reduce the likelihood of costly downtime, and to avoid expensive recovery services.
Want to find out how protected your business is against cyber threats?
Sign up for a free risk assessment from GAM Tech today! Alternatively, reach out to us our team to book a free consultation to learn more about our affordable managed IT services.
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