Phishing attacks doubled in 2018 to top 482 million attempts, malware attacks attained a record high of USD10.52 billion, and 94 per cent of enterprises will use the Internet of Things by the end of 2021.
The buzz is real, the risk is real, and the need to safeguard yourself – that’s also real.
Why should business owners be concerned?
Often enough, businesses do not pay adequate attention to cybersecurity and focus all their resources on sales and marketing. Such a fatal mistake can harm your company’s prospects.
Here’s a look at why business owners need to worry about cybersecurity.
A cyberattack could mean backbreaking financial losses
Cybersecurity threats aren’t restricted to mischief by hackers seeking thrills. It can pave the way for large scale fraud. A cybercrime usually involves identifying theft, bank account details theft, and more nasty stuff.
These can be used for a wide variety of criminal activities, including identity theft and insurance fraud. Cybercriminals are using ransomware to threaten the deletion of entire company database in exchange for exorbitant amounts of money.
Loss of reputation and customer’s trust
Most cyber-attacks threaten the misuse of business databases which include sensitive details of customers. Customers may lose confidence in businesses which are susceptible to data leakages through cyber-attacks.
If sensitive data is compromised due to a lapse in cybersecurity, then the company loses its face in the market. It might force a new cycle of expenditure in PR agencies to revive consumer support in the market.
The threat presented by smart devices
Most businesses cannot afford to keep tabs on how employees use their devices. With the spread of consumer tech, it has become impossible to enforce security measures.
Employees use personal smartphones and laptops for work purposes, which may become dangerous if they use an unsecured network.
This then becomes a fertile ground for data breaches, which may lead to the issues highlighted above.
Now that you know why it’s essential for business people to pay attention to cybersecurity, let’s cover some of the most lethal threats in detail.
The private sector is currently struggling with the sheer scale, size, and complexity of digital risks to business’ reputation, finances, and even property. These risks encompass numerous business operations and permeate relationships with customers, suppliers, and third parties.
The likely targets of this ongoing information warfare include:
3.Social media accounts
4.News media websites.
Concerns over possible blowback or escalation when retaliating or pursuing foreign hackers include potential proxies and curbing government enthusiasm for defending the private sector.
As a result, cyber espionage, cybercrime, and cyberwarfare occur.
Also Read: 10 data security predictions by Gartner for the year 2020
Cyberattacks, for example, caused losses worth US$18 billion to financial institutions in 2017.
In 2014, Sony’s planned release of a film mocking Kim Jong Un met with retaliation in the form of leaked salary data, unreleased movies, and controversial email exchanges.
VPNs can help your business – here’s how
The damage from information warfare, including propaganda, identity theft, data leaks, and public relations controversies may somewhat be stemmed through the use of VPNs.
They create an encrypted tunnel for the received and sent data that is unreachable by malicious digital entities.
Engage the teams in joint activities to develop management plans and education that responsibly prepare for a possible threat.
Prepare for the next wave of wireless attacks targeting Bluetooth devices. In 2018, security researchers found two vulnerabilities in Bluetooth Low Energy chips used by 70 to 80 per cent of business wireless access points including Meraki, Aruba, and Cisco products that put medical devices, wireless access points, and others at risk.
The flaws – termed Bleedingbit – endanger enterprises through vulnerable network access points.
If that’s not all, the 2017 BlueBorne attacks could jump from a nearby Bluetooth device to another wirelessly, putting nearly 5.3 billion dollars devices at risk.
As a result, threat actors have started incorporating Bluetooth-based attack vectors into their malicious kits. In April 2018, for example, researchers discovered a cyber-espionage campaign distributing Henbox, Android malware.
What should businesses do?
Businesses need to probe devices’ wireless communications more effectively for vulnerabilities. Also, firms producing products with proprietary wireless protocols, like implanted medical devices, need to prioritise security testing in the product development stage.
Expand the scope of current penetration test and attack surface assessments to include recognised proprietary wireless protocols open to the public. Also, disable any unused wireless protocols like Bluetooth of desktops and laptops.
Right now, most white hat hackers employ ML to identify vulnerabilities and recommend fixes. But it’s only a matter of time before attackers use the same capabilities on a mass scale.
Now, phishing or botnet campaigns are generally attributed to humans rather than artificial intelligence. But over 90 per cent of cybersecurity professionals from Japan and the United States expect attackers to use AI.
Also Read: Data piracy uncovered: the harsh reality gen-z must know
AI presents two types of risks that threaten the jobs of CIOs, CROs, and CISOs.
1. Bad state actors, insider threats, unscrupulous competitors, and criminals will manipulate the fledgeling artificial intelligence programs of their companies.
2. The other is that the attacks will use AI in different ways to exploit vulnerabilities in their defences. All of this will contribute to cybercrime losses amounting to more than US$6 trillion annually by 2021.
AI-based cyber threats are ubiquitous
The AI initiatives of different companies offer an array of potential vulnerabilities, including:
1.Manipulation of training data or malicious corruption
2. Component configuration
No industry is safe, and there are several categories where AI and ML already play critical roles and thus present more significant threats.
AI can make:
1. Credit frauds easier in the financial sector
2. Companies appear discriminatory (this hurt their reputation or brand)
3. Interfere in clinical settings with medical devices to threaten patient safety, and
4. Meddle or interfere with IoT devices that use AI or ML systems
All’s not lost, however
Thankfully, AI is a double-edged sword that also presents a solution. Companies can harness the power of AI to safeguard their AI initiatives and upgrade their cybersecurity capabilities.
Moreover, investments in AI can potentially offer multiple forms of payback. No wonder the AI cybersecurity market is expected to reach a value of US$34.81 billion by 2025.
Companies like Versive in Seattle, Cylance in Irvine, White Ops in New York, and Truu in Boulder are already combining AI with cybersecurity practices for smarter detection and information security.
Also Read: The importance and ownership of cloud security education
For the time being, you can use a tool like Symantec’s Targeted attack analytics (TAA) tool or Sophos’ Intercept X tool to redefine your cybersecurity ecosystem.
The greatest challenge to managing cybersecurity risks is uncertainty.
Hackers and other online entities rely on the element of surprise to catch companies flat-footed in agile, imaginative, and creative ways. Organisations need to keep up accordingly.
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Image Credit: Kaur Kristjan
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