Businesses of all sizes have a responsibility to ensure the safety and privacy of their organization and employees. Unfortunately, cyber security has always been a rather difficult topic to understand for those who are not responsible for it on a day-to-day basis. What needs to happen to make sure your business is safe? How can you prevent an attack? We will answer these questions in this post.
Protecting Your Workplace
The first thing you need to take into consideration in regards to cyber security is how to protect your business. Whether you run a dog grooming business from your home or a multi-million dollar travel agency, you need to take certain precautions to make sure that your sensitive information is secure.
What is Sensitive Information?
Businesses exist to make money. This means that all companies will have some form of accounting, whether it be an Excel spreadsheet, a handwritten book of business, or a completely custom software suite designed for your business. Some, of course, are more secure than others. But as businesses have accounting, it means that they are handling information about their customers as well as their employees. This information is considered sensitive, and it can include:
- Social security numbers
- Banking information (including account numbers, credit card numbers, et cetera)
- Names and addresses of customers/clients
- Business plans/proprietary documentation/"secret" recipes
Ways to Protect Your Business from Cyber Security Threats
There are dozens of ways to help prevent a cyber security attack to your business. While there is no single plan that works for all businesses, you should take into consideration what needs to be secured and what could happen to your business if said item was stolen, modified, or destroyed.
The first way to protect your business is to understand your risks. Learn about the different kinds of threats to your business and how to prepare against them. Once you understand your risks, you should create an in-depth security policy outlining these.
Keep all of your software and operating systems up to date. Hundreds of new security risks are detected every day -- you must be proactive to help prevent against breaches from compromised code.
Do your research. Much like understanding your risks, you should take the time to research what you will need to do for each specific risk. Not sure where to start? You can reach out to one of our cyber security experts today to see what you need to be prepared.
“Information is a significant component of most organizations’ competitive strategy either by the direct collection, management, and interpretation of business information or the retention of information for day-to-day business processing. Some of the more obvious results of IS failures include reputational damage, placing the organization at a competitive disadvantage, and contractual noncompliance. These impacts should not be underestimated.” ―Institute of Internal Auditors
Types of Cyber Attacks: Passive vs. Active
There are many types of cyber attacks that are possible for your business, but most will fall into one of two categories: passive or active.
A passive attack is when an intruder observes, but does not modify, any messages in any way. While these attacks may not be harmful by themselves, the data collected can be exponential and damaging. These attacks are oftentimes difficult to detect as they are not actively trying to break into any systems. Some examples are:
- Traffic Analysis: Learning about the network from observing traffic patterns - who is visiting what website, which files are being downloaded, et cetera.
- Eavesdropping: Also known as "tapping", eavesdropping is when the intruder monitors unencrypted communications such as phone calls or emails.
- Scanning: Performing a scan of a device connected to the internet to identify vulnerabilities such as a weak Operating System or open ports.
Active attacks are just that: actively seeking to modify or obtain information. This often results in changes to your data, systems, or even your infrastructure. Some common examples:
- Denial-of-Service Attacks: Disrupting your services by overloading them and rendering them unavailable for its intended users.
- Spoofing: The actual sender of an email is not who they claim to be.
- Message Modification: Message is modified in some way in the transmission.
- Viruses/Malware: The most well-known on this list, viruses and malware are typically designed to intrude and either damage or obtain critical information. While there are some that are considered passive, such as a keylogger, most of them are much more destructive.
Do You Need a Vulnerability Assessment?
A vulnerability assessment, also known as vulnerability analysis, is a process used to locate and identify any security-level defects (vulnerabilities) in a network or infrastructure. Vulnerability assessments help businesses pinpoint any vulnerabilities (such as coding bugs, security holes, etc.) before they have the chance to be compromised. You can read more about Vulnerability Assessments on this blog post.
Want to learn more about cyber security for your business? Feel free to reach out to us and let us know what's on your mind. You can also check out some of our other security blog posts:
- Critical Business Strategy, Due Diligence, and Validation
- The Importance of Using a Firewall
- Data Security in Web and Mobile Applications