Many of us have experienced the joys of working remotely at a conference, cafe or in transit. We have become aware of the dangers of connecting to free Wi-Fi connections and the importance of excellent passwords and encryption for our laptops and phones.
The average knowledge worker in Australia has been an office-based worker using a PC on a secure corporate network, with IT looking after the cyber security needs of office-based team members.
The recent growth of the hybrid workforce has led to a redistribution of cyber security risks. Many people are experiencing remote working for the first time and are not savvy to the nature of current cyber threats.
Cyber criminals are well aware of the opportunities in unsecured personal devices, poorly secured home Wi-Fi, and weak passwords. In the absence of staff training and office walls, cyber criminals have a buffet of vulnerabilities to exploit.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) received 67,500 reports of cyber crime in the 2020-21 financial year. A 13% increase from the previous year.
What are the cyber security risks you need to know?
Ransomware attacks wreak havoc on a business. A malicious actor may have access to your systems for some time before installing the ransomware. The result: a demand for money in exchange for your data. Many business owners pay the ransom, because the cost of lost work and reputational damage feels far worse than paying up.
Phishing attacks attempt to acquire sensitive information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity via electronic communication. Recently, phishing attacks have become more sophisticated, with company logos and fake websites convincingly similar to legitimate company assets.
Malware can damage or destroy data, disable systems, and even steal information. Malware’s implications on businesses include damage or data destruction, disabled systems, stolen information, financial loss, and reputational damage.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Attackers flood the target with illegitimate traffic from multiple sources, making it difficult to respond or recover.
Educate employees on cyber security awareness
One method of mitigating cyber security risks is educating people on the threats above. Training programs on individuals’ responsibilities is the baseline you need to shut some of these cyber doors.
Your cyber security awareness training might include the following subjects:
- Recognising phishing attacks to reduce the number of people that unknowingly become victims of such attacks. Training programs give people the tools to recognise fake emails or websites asking for their information.
- Saving company information to unauthorised apps on personal laptops becomes a gateway for criminals to obtain data.
- Password reuse across multiple accounts, even when the password meets complexity requirements, is an insidious mistake. Once a hacker obtains the password, it becomes a key that opens multiple doors to the business.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an absolute must to close the door on password-based attacks. Some people may have concerns about how time-consuming 2FA might be. So, educate them on how little time it takes from their day.
By teaching your employees on securing themselves against cyber threats, you can mitigate the chances of your company suffering a cyber attack.
Phishing comprised 30% of breaches reported to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) in January – June 2021. Ransomware accounted for 24% of cyber attacks.
Do not rule out insider attacks
Many data breaches result from an employee acting maliciously against the organisation. An insider attack is a cyber attack carried out by someone who already has access to the network. They may be a current or former employee or someone with access to the network for another reason. Insiders can often exploit their access to gain sensitive information or damage IT infrastructure.
One of the most significant risks of insider attacks is that they can go undetected for a long time, making it difficult to determine the source of the attack. Insider attacks can also be challenging to defend against, as employees may have legitimate reasons for accessing certain information or systems.
Insider attacks can cause a wide range of damage, including financial losses, data breaches and loss of customer trust. Restricting access to sensitive corporate data is essential for protecting against insider attacks.
It is pertinent to note that insider threats are not always current employees. If an ex-employee still has access to documents, they might take those with them into their new company. When offboarding employees, you should revoke their access to company data as soon as possible.
Address basic cyber security gaps in your organisation
Everyone in the business can start addressing cyber security vulnerabilities by first taking care of basic housekeeping. There are often a handful of actions that you and your staff can initiate to improve your cyber security posture.
You might be overlooking basic cyber security issues such as software updates and regular patching. Keeping software up to date is crucial because it ensures the latest security patches and features. Updated software better protects you from exploits and vulnerabilities that may be present in older software versions. Regular patching is also necessary because it closes security holes hackers may exploit. You can make it more difficult for attackers to penetrate your network or steal your data by closing these holes.
A managed IT services provider cannot fix how people access and share data. You can implement guidelines for sharing documents and company data to reduce the likelihood of leaked information. I recommend implementing multi-factor authentication solutions, which each person can set up quite quickly.
Resolving these basic cyber security issues can be your first step to reducing your risk of an attack, saving you time, money and your reputation.
You can get more information from the Australian Government on covering basic cyber security vulnerabilities.
Bring in an IT solution provider to tie up your loose ends
Even after implementing basic cyber security protections and policies, you will likely still have vulnerabilities in your business. The next steps need to be taken by your IT solution provider to ensure that every network and device your team leverages to access company data is secured and managed.
Small businesses are especially vulnerable to cybercrime since they often lack the resources for comprehensive cyber security measures. Larger companies can afford to hire in-house cyber security staff, but small businesses usually do not have this budget.
A managed IT services provider audits your network and infrastructure – whether it be on-premises or remote – and finds gaps in your system. They can secure your network and protect your data from cybercrime. The provider will work with you to create a customised security plan that fits your needs and budget. They will also be responsible for not only implementing, but maintaining security measures.
Cyber security awareness training with Wyntec
Your company’s digital footprint increases each day, and it is unlikely to slow down. Cyber criminals have numerous access points to exploit, with many people handling more data or working in a distributed team.
Our Cyber Awareness Programs ensure your team evolves from cyber vulnerabilities to your first line of defence. Visit our Cyber Security Awareness page for more on our offering.