Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Overcoming Four Threats Harming Businesses Today
It’s no surprise that businesses of every size in every sector are experiencing a season of unique disruption. From geopolitical conflict and supply chain constraints to shifting consumer demands and economic headwinds, companies have no shortage of problems to prioritize.
For many leaders, cybersecurity is increasingly at the top of their list as the costs and consequences of a data breach or cybersecurity incident make it an inescapable problem demanding a robust response.
This year, the cost of a data breach exceeded $4 million, exacting harsh financial repercussions for companies that fail to protect their digital assets adequately. At the same time, clients and consumers are less willing to tolerate businesses that can’t or won’t develop a cybersecurity strategy that works, making the long-tail reputational damage potentially even more damaging than the up-front recovery costs.
As October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, now is the perfect time for companies to become resilient by being aware and building strategies to address their challenges and stay ahead of emerging threats. Here are four threats harming companies right now and the steps they can take to prevent them from undermining growth or sustainability at this critical moment.
#1 Insider Threats
While cybersecurity often conjures up images of nefarious, opaque threat actors operating from distant locations, in reality, the most pernicious vulnerability is often much closer to home.
Company insiders, including employees, contractors, and other authorized third-party vendors, with access to an organization’s data or IT infrastructure, expose businesses to cybersecurity risks.
According to Verizon’s most recent Data Breach Investigations Report, 82 percent of data breaches involve a human element as social attacks, errors, and misuse undermine data privacy and IT integrity at an alarming rate.
In some cases, employees act maliciously, intentionally stealing, exposing, or misusing company data for their own purposes. More routinely, people undermine cybersecurity by failing to maintain digital hygiene, accidentally sharing sensitive information, or otherwise unintentionally causing a crisis.
That’s why an effective defensive posture empowers businesses to detect, investigate, and respond to potential insider threats in real time. A combination of human intelligence and software solutions can help facilitate these outcomes, allowing businesses to guard against the human element.
#2 Stolen Credentials
Credential theft is one of the oldest tricks in the cybercrime playbook. With the number of data breaches setting new records each year, it’s easier than ever to execute. More than 53 million people were affected by data compromises in the first half of 2022.
This information regularly makes its way to the Dark Web, where threat actors can quickly and affordably acquire these assets, using them to gain front-door access to employee accounts or company IT assets.
Stolen credentials are responsible for 19 percent of data breaches, making them a vulnerability needing a response.
The solution is frustratingly simple. Employees must regularly update their passwords, create original passwords for every account, and enable two-factor authentication. Unfortunately, nearly 70 percent of Americans use the same password for all accounts while declining to update credentials after a data breach notification.
Awareness training, automated update prompts, and accountability standards can help reverse this trend, protecting businesses from this preventable cybersecurity vulnerability.
#3 Phishing Scams
More than three billion phishing emails are sent every day. While software solutions are increasingly capable of deflecting these attacks, ensuring that employees less frequently have to grapple with the uncertainty of a potentially-malicious message, some will inevitably end up in people’s inboxes.
What’s more, these malicious messages pose an incredible threat to cybersecurity as every attempt runs the risk of giving threat actors front-door access to a company’s data or IT infrastructure. They are also more difficult to identify than ever before. Threat actors leverage compromised records and readily-available online information to craft convincing, authentic-looking messages that temp recipients to engage.
In total, phishing scams are the most common cause of data breaches, making a robust defense a must-have for resilient businesses. Employee awareness training can make a significant impact. When coupled with robust software options, companies can help stop scams in their tracks.
#4 Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks have never been easier to execute by threat actors or more devastating for victims. The rise of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) has made software and infrastructure assets available to expert and novice cybercriminals alike.
Ransomware attacks are highly-public events, often making news and preventing companies from executing their day-to-day operations, causing financial, reputational, and productivity damage that is difficult to reverse.
Ultimately, whether companies are guarding against insider threats or ransomware attacks, they have the power to bolster their defenses, making it less likely that accidents or malicious behavior will undermine cybersecurity or data privacy.
A robust defensive posture doesn’t happen by default, but it can be developed over time. Critically, small changes and relatively minor investments can help companies avoid the costly consequences of failure. Given the tumultuous environment facing today’s businesses, it’s one controllable element worth embracing today.