Cyber-security is intended to restrict hackers from stealing, changing, accessing, or destroying sensitive data, and in our modern world, our everyday devices need better safeguarding against cyber-attacks.
Whether it's our IT systems, processes, networks, or devices themselves - understanding the pillars of cyber-security and defining the safeguarding measures continues to be the main challenge for many businesses.
What are the key pillars of cyber-security?
There are three pillars of cyber-security. It’s a good idea to use them as a skeleton to create your own cyber-security strategy, roadmap, and plan.
Throughout your business the people behind your brand need to fully understand what they can do to not only prevent a breach, but what mistakes might cause one to happen.
Executives need to understand how their decision-making before, during, and after a breach can have a knock-on effect on the future. It could dictate how successful the prevention, mitigation, and response to a cyber-threat is going forward.
For other employees, following a policy, using devices safely, and handling data correctly means cyber-security becomes part of their day-to-day routines.
Once you have developed this deep cultural understanding of how cyber-security works, hackers will have a harder time cracking your business.
Processes soon become second nature, and familiarity with cyber-security procedures can mean the difference between a major and minor incident. If your team knows exactly where to report a phishing attempt or an account breach, your response team then has the time to react and contain.
Your IT department should also audit and regularly test the vulnerability of your network and hardware. They’re more likely to spot suspicious activity – and stop it – before a cyber-criminal can exploit any vulnerabilities.
It’s important to have the technology that can support everyone in preventing cyber-crime. But having security experts, whether in-house or outsourced, is key to cybersecurity. They can maintain your protected networks and systems, track, and quarantine threats as they appear, and monitor data for unauthorised manipulation.
Your strategy should include cyber-security solutions that can build in multiple layers of protection. It should be a failsafe and alert users to potential attacks, slow any successful breaches, and keep you in the know so you have the right data to tackle the problem.
Technology is getting smarter every day. But so are hacking methods. Establishing a robust framework and strategy for protecting your data and IT assets has never been more important.
Why is cyber-security important?
Cyber-crime costs businesses in the UK tens of millions of pounds each year and affects small and large businesses. In 2021, 39% of UK companies surveyed by the government reported at least one attempt to breach their cyber-security – with the average annual cost of lost data or assets coming to £8,460.
Technology, like the Internet of Things (IoT), is getting smarter every day. But so are hacking methods. Establishing a robust framework and strategy for protecting your data and IT assets has never been more important. A public data breach could put your company’s reputation at risk, so it’s time to get your cyber-security plan right.
Types of cyber-security threats
There are a number of cyber-security threats that could impact your business and working environment and they go far beyond your laptop. We’ve outlined some of the types of cyber-security threats that you could be subject to.
Malicious software (Malware)
Malicious software or malware is something you install inadvertently, usually by visiting a malware-infected (but otherwise genuine) website, or by opening an attachment from a phishing email. Common types of malware are viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware. They normally come as a file or bit of software – and are very harmful to a computer user.
Ransomware attacks are a big problem for small businesses. It’s a type of malware that prevents you from accessing your device, or the data that’s stored on it – usually by encrypting it. The attacker demands a ransom from you, usually with a deadline, to restore access to the data upon payment.
Phishing is a form of social engineering. Hackers often impersonate a person of influence within a company - and then ask for sensitive information from employees. Spear Phishing often uses more personal information gained from phishing to make their impersonations more lifelike and believable.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
DDoS attacks are on the rise. They overwhelm your servers, networks, devices, or applications with a flood of internet traffic, preventing legitimate customers and users from accessing your online services and sites. Hackers are now increasingly using IoT devices, like security cameras, webcams, and printers to launch DDoS attacks, because they often have weaker security.
Weak passwords are a common route for cyber-security attacks. Password attacks occur when a hacker tries to steal your password. It’s important to not use passwords that might be easy to guess – and never write them down.
Microsoft's 2021 Security Signals report reveals that 83% of enterprises have experienced a firmware attack. It targets firmware (permanently installed software) in your systems and devices, allowing hackers to bypass a mobile or computer’s operating system. Worryingly, they compromise devices before they’ve even had a chance to boot up.
Device loss or theft
While the freedom of working from anywhere on any device can boost productivity, it can leave you more open to cyber-attacks. If a device is left unlocked and unattended, a cyber-criminal can use the opportunity to steal your data.
An insider threat is a security risk that comes from within your organisation. And that’s what makes them so hard to detect. Insiders have legitimate access to your systems and data. So, it could be anyone – a current or former employee, or even a business associate, who deliberately steals sensitive information for personal gain, or accidentally leaks it.
Building your own strategy
A cyber-security strategy is a plan that outlines how an organisation will protect its assets and respond to an attack, should one occur. As both technology and cyberthreats evolve, your strategy will have to adapt along with them. If you don’t yet have a cyber-security strategy in place, you can follow the framework below to help you build one.
Understand the cyberthreat landscape
Identify the types of threats that your business is susceptible to as well as any valuable assets that may be at risk. Carrying out a cyber-security risk assessment will help to identify your most valuable assets and determine the security measures needed to protect them.
Protect your assets
The cyber-security threats that you identify will determine the steps you need to take and solutions you need to implement to safeguard your assets.
Detect potential threats
Spotting cyber-attacks early allows you to respond quickly and can help to mitigate their impact. Threat detection solutions monitor and identify potential threats so that you can act fast.
Respond to attacks
Once a threat has been detected, there needs to be a response prepared for how your organisation will react to it. The response should be tailored based on numerous factors, including how critical the asset is, the behaviour that has been detected, and the type of attack that has been carried out.
Recover from a breach
If a breach occurs it’s important to recover from the incident and put in place processes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This could include assessing the impact of the attack, its source, and strengthening your cyber-security infrastructure.