Why is cyber security important for your business?14 Aug, 20235 min
In today's digital age, businesses are constantly under attack from cybercriminals, and these attacks can have a devastating impact on businesses, resulting in financial losses, reputational damage, and even disruption of operations. Whilst cybercrime is a major concern for businesses of all sizes, do companies truly understand why cyber security is important?
We will help answer this question for you, delving into the importance of cyber security, as well as looking at the most common cyber security risks and how to implement cyber security within your business. Before diving into all that, let's first summarise what cyber security is.
What is cyber security?
Also known as information technology security or electronic information security, cyber security protects computer systems, networks, and data from cyber-attacks, unauthorised access, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction.
We use smart devices, computers and networks for almost anything and everything. From banking, shopping, communicating and, more recently, remote working, the abundance of and our increased reliance on tech means a lot of sensitive data is stored and processed on various computer systems, all vulnerable to cyber threats. Today the importance of cyber security to the global population and your business has never been more imperative.
What are the most common cyber security risks to businesses?
There are a number of different cyber security risks that businesses face. From malware attacks, ransomware attacks, phishing attacks, weak passwords, and insider threats, let's explore some of the most common cyber security risks you should know about.
Malware is malicious software spread through email attachments, malicious links, or infected websites and is capable of damaging or disabling computer systems and can also be used to steal data and track users' online activity. In 2022, 5.5 billion malware attacks were recorded globally, a 2% increase from the previous year, posing a major concern for organisations.
Ransomware is a form of malware which encrypts a user's files and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. Each day, around 200,000 ransomware strains are recorded. In 2021, over 600 million ransomware attacks were reported worldwide, 20% of which resulted in reputational damage, making it a costly security risk for global businesses.
Phishing attacks are among the most common and dangerous cyber threats facing businesses today, with 83% of organisations in the UK alone suffering a cyber attack due to phishing. In a phishing attack, the attacker sends a text or email that appears to be from a seemingly legitimate source, such as a bank or credit card company.
The spam email or text message often contains an attachment or link that, if clicked, will install harmful malware on the user's device. To put this into perspective, it is predicted that 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent daily, making it a significant threat to businesses worldwide.
Weak passwords are another significant security risk for businesses, and according to Dashlane, 20% of passwords in North America are compromised, with Inc. Magazine estimating that 100 passwords are stolen every second - 8 million per day. If a hacker is able to guess or crack a user's password, they can gain access to the user's account and data. Access to this data can be financially and reputationally costly for your business.
Insider threats are cyber security threats caused by malicious, disgruntled, current and former employees. Here an employee, either intentionally or unintentionally, will use their access to the business's network, system or devices to carry out a form of cyber-attack or will unknowingly cause an accidental data breach.
Whether there is deliberate intent or an honest mistake, insider threats are a serious issue that can have detrimental impacts, affecting more than 34% of global companies every year.
Why cyber security is important for businesses
Now we've established the most common cyber security risks and given you an idea of the potential threats posing your organisation. From protecting data from theft to supporting the fight against the rise in cybercrime, let's explore why cyber security is important for businesses and how cyber security can prevent your organisation from breaches and attacks.
Cyber security secures data from theft
One of the most significant reasons why cyber security is important for businesses is that it helps secure personal data from theft or loss. If cyber attackers hack into your system, they could steal identity-related data, business plans, intellectual property and other sensitive information. This data could be internal or external, belonging to your employees or clients, customers and investors and could result in negative consequences for your organisation if it falls into the wrong hands.
Prevents financial losses due to data breaches
Following on from our previous point, not only can cyber security secure your data from theft, but it can also prevent financial losses from occurring due to data breaches.
For example, in 2022, the average data breach cost was $4.35 million, which could rise to $5 million in 2023. Moreover, 60% of start-ups and small businesses go out of business within the first six months of launching due to the financial losses caused by data breaches. The implementation of cyber security could lower both these statistics.
Helps you avoid legal liability for data breaches
If your business can demonstrate it takes due care when it comes to cyber security, follows the required rules and regulations and goes above and beyond to protect internal and external data, it can help your business avoid legal liability for data breaches.
Additionally, if you invest in cyber security insurance, you can protect your business from legal liability of data breaches, cyber-attacks and third-party claims. Regarding cyber liability insurance, 91% of small businesses haven’t invested in this and therefore run the risk of being liable when data breaches occur. It is, therefore, essential to acknowledge the importance of cyber security to avoid legal liability and becoming part of these worrying statistics.
Protects the reputation of your business
We've mentioned how data breaches can impact your business by having sensitive information fall into the wrong hands of cybercriminals and the financial damage it could bring, but the reputation of your organisation is also at stake if you fail to implement cyber security to protect your customers, clients, investors, and employees from cyber attacks.
If your stakeholders see you have invested in cyber security and take measures to protect their data from exploitation, you can maintain and retain their confidence in your company. Additionally, investing in cyber security can help attract new business and talent, as people will be more likely to trust your organisation and feel safe partnering with you.
Supports the fight against the rise in cybercrime
Our final point focuses on how cyber security is supporting businesses in the fight against the rise in cybercrime. In 2022, the rate of global cyber attacks increased by 38% on the 2021 statistics. The increase in cybercrime can be attributed to the increased use of technology by businesses, the growing sophistication of cybercriminals and the lack of awareness of cyber threats among many people.
Thankfully, cyber security is fighting the rise in cybercrime in several ways, from encryption processes to intrusion detection systems and more. Here are some ways cyber security can protect your business from the points surrounding cybercrime mentioned above.
Encryption is the process of converting data into a form that cannot be read without a special key, making it very difficult for unauthorised users to access the data, even if they are able to gain access to the system or network.
Access control restricts who can access certain data and can be implemented using passwords, biometrics, or other authentication methods.
Firewalls are devices that filter traffic between computer networks and can be used to block unwanted access to sensitive data.
Intrusion detection systems
Intrusion detection systems (IDSs) monitor computer networks for signs of unauthorised activity. If an IDS detects suspicious activity, it can alert administrators so that they can take action to prevent a security breach.
Data backups are copies of important data that are stored in a secure location. In the event of a data breach, the backups can be used to restore the data.
Ultimately, you cannot ignore and underestimate the importance of cyber security if you want to future-proof your business and avoid the risks involved. But how do you implement cyber security in your business? In the next section, we will explore this question further.
How to implement cyber security in your business
With the importance of cyber security for your business covered, the next step is implementing online protection so you can confidently grow your organisation.
When it comes to implementing cyber security into your business, there are several things you can do. In this section, we will focus on five steps you can take, from conducting regular cyber security risk assessments, controlling third-party risk, applying strong passwords and access controls, using up-to-date security software and educating the employees about cyber security risks.
1. Conduct regular cyber security risk assessments
The first step for implementing cyber security in your business is conducting regular cyber security risk assessments. These risk assessments can help you determine your company's potential cyber threats and identify gaps in your internal and external cyber security processes.
Here your cyber security consultant or expert within the IT security field can evaluate how and where the data of your employees, clients, customers and investors is stored, backed up and protected, as well as who has access to it.
You should conduct a cyber security risk regularly, at least once a year, to help you realise the consequences of not having robust cyber security in place, ensure your cyber security strategy is up-to-date with the industry regulations and give your business the best chances of staying protected from breaches.
2. Control third-party risk
While you should pay significant attention to your internal cyber security measures, your business should also implement processes to control third-party risks. Third-party risks refer to the potential threats and dangers posed on your business by third-party suppliers, traders, vendors and other external partners associated with your organisation that have access to your systems and networks.
From your client data and your employee's sensitive information, you must put processes in place to ensure your third-party relations take due diligence when it comes to protecting your data.
To control third-party cyber security risks, make sure you research external companies before you partner with them to ensure they take care of security. Then, once you've partnered with a third party, keep close communication with them to ensure they are always updating their procedures and keeping your data's security at the forefront.
3. Apply strong passwords and access controls
Earlier, we mentioned that weak passwords are among the most common cyber security risks facing businesses. Therefore, as part of your cyber security strategy, you should encourage your employees to create strong passwords while applying access controls to further protect your data. Here are some of the things you can do regarding the application of strong passwords and access controls.
Firstly, ensure your employees use complex and unique passwords for each account that contain at least 12 characters long and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. You should also encourage your team to regularly update their passwords, never share them with others or include personal information with their passwords, and use a password manager to produce secure passwords.
For context, these were the top five most common passwords used in 2022, as reported by NordPass:
So if anyone in your business uses one of these five passwords, you should definitely put stronger, more secure passwords in place.
Additionally, you should look to enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), otherwise known as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). MFA and 2FA give your accounts an added layer of protection, whereby users are required to enter a unique code from another device, such as a phone, and provide a password when they log in.
4. Use up-to-date cyber security software
Another thing you should do when implementing cyber security into your business is to use up-to-date cyber security software. For example, to protect your company's various devices from cyber threats such as phishing and malware, select a reliable antivirus software that is widely recognised and used in your industry and ultimately limits the vulnerabilities of cyber attacks on your business. You could always speak to one of your third-party associates to see what software they use.
Similarly to performing regular risk assessments, when using software to support your cyber security efforts, be sure to update the software to further strengthen your defences against cybercrime. Cyber security is constantly evolving, so updating your software keeps you protected and ensures your business keeps up with the times.
5. Educate employees about cyber security risks
Our final advice for implementing cyber security in your business is to ensure you educate your employees about the cyber security risks that could affect them, your clients and your business.
The 2022 Global Risks Report produced by the World Economic Forum revealed that 95% of cyber security threats were partially accounted for by human error. Therefore it's essential to conduct regular cyber security training within your business to ensure all your employees know the risks and how to avoid them.
From being aware of what a phishing email looks like and how to create secure passwords, your training should become part of your company culture and onboarding process. By implementing training and updating your staff with cyber security knowledge when industry updates, and changes in regulations occur, you can ensure your business is protected from cyber attacks as much as it possibly can be.
Without question, the importance of cyber security cannot be argued and will continue to be an essential part of doing business in today's digital age. Companies neglecting to implement cyber security measures risk putting themselves at significant financial, legal, and reputational damage.
However, by implementing the effective cyber security measures discussed in this piece, from conducting regular cyber security risk assessments to educating your employees, your business can help to protect your data, systems, and reputation.
Get in touch with a cyber security recruiter today!
Now that you have an answer to the question: why is cyber security important for your business? And now that you have solid steps for implementing cyber security in your business, you should start to consider your recruitment strategy and how you will implement cyber security into your organisation. So, if you need top talent to help structure your cyber security strategy and grow your business, we are here to help.
Get in touch with our cyber security recruitment experts to find out how we can best support you today.