Cybercrime is undoubtedly the biggest threat in our hyper connected and digitalized environment. The more companies digitalize their processes, data and products, the higher the risk of hacker attacks and breaches. Thereby, the size and the location of your business and the sector in which you operate do not matter, since your company can be hacked anywhere and anytime. This fact makes CEOs fear for their existence – and actually it should.
A cyber security study conducted by the University of Illinois and Michigan showed in 2016 that employees are one of the critical factors endangering a company’s security. During the study, researchers spread USB sticks somewhere in the near of several companies – for example at the floor next to a parking space or near the entrance – and hoped that employees will find and connect them with their computers.
Do you think the employees of tested companies would never insert a strange USB stick? In fact, more than half of placed sticks have been inserted in the computers of the company. They all opened a software that could have infiltrated the whole system if the stick would have been placed by an ill-intentioned hacker. The study shows that companies are more vulnerable than they think.
Cyber security matters to your company’s existence
Hacker attacks can be very cost-intensive. Especially small firms may have to be worried about their existence because damages can cost up to a six-figure sum. Let us assume that a middle-sized hardware producer becomes a victim of hacking attacks. The hacker shuts down the whole production for a certain period and the company cannot serve its customers as it should. A few days later, a cyber security specialist finds out that the reason for the hacking attack was an administrator’s mistake: He shut down the firewall without even noticing it.
Let us further assume a loss in revenue amounting to 200,000 Euros. Customers have the right to come up with a contractual penalty of around 500,000 Euros. Moreover, the investigation and system recovery by a cyber security specialist can cost around 30,000 Euros. Consequently, the hacking attack can sum up to 730,000 Euros. This number can be a real threat for many jobs or even the existence of a relatively small company.
Even if your investigation team finds out the hacker’s identity, in most cases, he or she cannot cover your losses. Most hackers simply have not the resources to pay for the damage, so in the end, your company has to deal with it. However, you can prevent those losses by making use of cyber insurance services. Allianz Insurances, for example, compensates potentially significant financial losses like business interruption, restoration, data breaches, network interruption and notification expenses.
Tips for your small to medium-size business
Of course, there are ways to prevent those hacker attacks by building up a robust cyber security system. Despite cyber insurance, several cyber security advisors can help you build your defense against criminal cyber-attacks.
Invest in reliable managed security service providers
Especially for small to medium-size companies, it might be too cost-intensive to employ a full-time IT specialist, who keeps the whole cyber security subject in mind. However, it is most of the time not even necessary. There are professional agencies you can hire to keep your digital data and assets safe.
Managed Security Service (MSS) providers specialize in helping businesses to manage the security of all IT systems, networks and servers. Companies like Secunet, DXC Security Solutions or Tata Communications would be happy to consult you. MSS can build up a cyber security strategy with you, help to find the right security software and teach you the whole behavior codex for your employees. Moreover, they will track your processes and inform you directly if something unusual happens. Your company allows them to control all your digital processes, which requires full trust from your side.
However, you will feel safer than ever before.
Establish a behavior codex for employees
As you have noticed with the USB Stick study, your employees’ behavior is important for your cyber security. Even if you have a professional Managed Security Service, it makes no sense if your employees are not informed and trained on the importance of protecting the company’s data.
The first step here is to realize where attacks come from. The most common attack today is “phishing”, which means that criminals try to obtain sensitive information like customer data, passwords or financial details by disguising themselves as trustworthy. Most of the time, your employees will be confronted with phishing emails.
It is absolutely important to train your employees on how to detect those phishing emails so that they do not click on suspect links. Checking spelling mistakes, the email address of the sender and hovering over URLs to see where they are directing before clicking them are the basic rules.
However, emails are not the only way to hack your company. As said before, it should be forbidden for your employees to insert strange USB sticks. Hackers have even more traps for you, so please inform yourself about possible ways for hacking and set up a behavior codex for your employees.
Pay someone to hack you
After you have put in place the cyber security system (including teaching and training your employees), you should test its functionality regularly. And who could test it better than a professional hacker? The so-called “white hat hackers” choose to use their hacking skills for the good rather than the evil. You can pay the ethical hackers to hack your system. In contrast to the “black hat hackers” (criminal hackers), you give them your permission – the methods of hacking are still the same.
The white hat can identify security vulnerabilities, so you know where you should improve your cyber security system. Moreover, they know exactly which methods hackers currently use. As hacking approaches develop over time and get more and more refined, it is important to be consulted and tested by a hacking insider.
Hopefully, this article allowed you to get a first overview of cyber security topic and its importance in our digitalized world. Digital trends like Artificial Intelligence represent (due to its unexplored possibilities) a higher potential of malicious hacking – and it could even be more dangerous if someone abuses this technology. So keep your company’s cyber security always up to date!