Cyberattacks grew by 400% last year. Cyber security analyst David Steele outlines some steps companies can take to minimise risk
While the pandemic was giving us a run for our money in 2020 and 2021, cybersecurity attackers were also sharpening their claws. Statistics show that as workforces went remote, cybersecurity attacks increased by 400%. And they were already climbing year on year.
Globally, cybercrime is expected to cost in the region of 10.5 trillion dollars by 2025. In 2015, cybercrime cost $3 trillion. As alarming as these numbers are, we also need to take stock that they only reflect the reported numbers.The unreported cases are likely to be much higher.
Suffice to say, in the environment we’re now in cybersecurity is no longer the concern of the IT function exclusively. Your cybersecurity strategy will have a direct impact on your business sustainability.
Keeping this in mind, here are four ways to enhance your cybersecurity practices for 2022.
Budget for the appropriate software - and keep it updated
There have been a few game-changers already in 2022 that you need to take account of.
With the updates to Microsoft’s Windows 11 and Apple’s OS Monterey operation systems, it’s important to realise that browsers, operating systems and service systems have a shelf-life. That means that antivirus and antispyware programs need to be updated and maintained regularly to remain compliant with the new versions of these operating systems.
Your IT team, or external service provider, needs to ensure that the antimalware and antivirus software you are using is professional-grade and up to date. Sometimes software needs to be reinstalled with newer cloud-based versions.
Make privacy a policy
If your staff work in a public space, such as a coworking office or a coffee shop, insist that they use a privacy screen and the VPN for your company. VPNs can protect your organisation from hackers - who are well attuned to the bonanza that remote working has afforded them. Privacy screens, while a seemingly basic piece of equipment, can keep confidential information away from prying eyes.
When you’re choosing a VPN service, make sure you interrogate whether it can support your systems and mobile devices.
Bring your staff onboard with your cybersecurity strategy
We hear a lot about distributed workforces these days.That means that we have distributed cybersecurity risks now too.
Strong cybersecurity policies are a must. These need to be in place, and need to be explicitly clear on your organisation’s rules for uploading, opening and transferring files and software. Reinforce these policies all the time with a consistent focus on education.
This is not about fear-mongering, but is about your team members being aware of the risk your organisation faces. And their own role in mitigating those risks. Firewalls have their place. But so too do policies, investment in cybersecurity infrastructure and a workforce educated in cyber risk.
Hire a cybersecurity specialist
The dark web is a marketplace, and hacking as a service is one of the items for sale.
The barrier to entry on who can pay sophisticated hackers with cryptocurrency has lowered. Just about anyone with malevolent intentions can do so. With this in mind, it’s little wonder that the rise in cybersecurity attacks have skyrocketed as significantly as they have.Yet most of these attacks can be traced back to human failure rather than complex coding.This is where a cybersecurity specialist comes in.
Professional cybersecurity consultants specialise in keeping organisations safe from cyber attacks. They do this by designing and implementing policies, infrastructure and training for your employees.
Don’t think that because you have an IT team, whether inhouse or contractor, that your cybersecurity needs are covered. While your IT team and a cybersecurity specialist will work together to ensure your organisation is more robust, they are not the same. Essentially, you want your cybersecurity specialist to think like a hacker on your behalf and find where the weak points are in your system.
These four tips are designed to be simple. But therein lies their power. Follow them to the letter to keep your organisation safe in 2022 and beyond.
David Steele is the MD of SecuriCentrix and a Cyber Security Analyst. Founded in 2010, SecuriCentrix has grown to become a security and compliance service provider to global organisations across Africa, Australia, Europe, India, and the UK.