The Importance of Cyber Security
Cyber security is crucial as it safeguards all types of data against theft and loss. This endpoint protection can extend from personal information, financial protection and sensitive government data.
In the grand scheme of the corporate world, cyber security as a whole would still be classed as in its infant stages as the technosphere is ever adapting and evolving. To put it in a simple context, a statistic showed that four in ten businesses and a quarter of charities in the UK have reported cyber breaches and attacks within the last 12 months, with around 2,200 cyberattacks per day and a loss of more than £736 million. The result? A staggering £2.5 billion in total damages for the United Kingdom as a whole.
With the world becoming increasingly digital, a cybercrime is a single click away - literally. People and organisations around the globe heavily rely on technology, which means that everyone - and every entity - can be a cyber criminal’s target.
What Is Cyber Security?
In its simplest form, cybersecurity can be described as the proactive and ongoing protection of systems and networks from cyber attacks. Specialists within the field all have the same mission, which is to proactively reduce the risk of a business being targeted and affected by cyber attacks.
The concept of cyber security can be divided into two main components: the protection of the devices businesses and people use for services, and the protection of the said services. There is also a case for saying there is a third component, which is all about protecting the personal information stored on the devices used by firms and everyday people.
Why is Cyber Security Important Within Businesses?
Data breaches where bank customers' details have been stolen and sold to the black market, cyber attacks preventing a website or an app to work: when cyber crimes target large corporate entities, the damages can be terrible for business.
Terrible because of the potential loss of money which can result from cyber attacks, and terrible because of reputational damages. Customers expect businesses they deal with to firmly protect their information, whether it’s health, personal or financial. Breaking news announcing that a massive breach of data has occurred within a known business will highly impact the customers’ perception towards the said brand, resulting in not only a lack of trust, but potentially a loss of revenue. A company’s reputation can easily be tarnished if proper cyber security controls and processes are not put in place.
The issue around controls, procedures and processes is even bigger these days as organisations are becoming more reliant than ever on cloud-based solutions and products, for which they don’t have full control over. Cyber criminals have sophisticated their techniques and tactics over the past decade, which means that it is far easier for them to break into the poor configuration of third-party cloud-based systems. Relying heavily on such products increases a business’ vulnerability against cyber attacks.
How COVID-19 Shook Up Cyber Security in the Corporate World
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses in more ways than what one may think. During the two-year period, companies have reported a vast number of system breaches which they never would have expected. Black hat hackers - which are essentially hackers who violate computer security for their own personal profit or out of malice - became over 80% more apparent as the pandemic allowed them more personal free time to conduct breaches and attacks.
As a result, we have seen mass increases in cyberattacks, ranging from phishing, fraudulent websites and direct attacks on companies. With employees working remotely and possibly using their personal computer to conduct daily work activities, the pandemic made it easier for hackers and cyber criminals to put in place schemes - the vast majority relating to the pandemic. According to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), 28% of all cyber incidents handled in 2020 were in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. Don’t we all remember getting more than 2 - 3 phishing emails/text messages per day during the course of the national lockdown, ranging anything from needing to pay excess money into bank accounts to non-existent parcels not being able to be delivered?
The coronavirus pandemic ultimately made organisations more cyber aware, therefore resulting in securing their systems more efficiently and increasing their cyber security professionals headcount. It took a global lockdown to put cyber security at the top of businesses’ priorities list.
What Is Cyber Crime?
Unlike the most common form of crimes one may think of - which all happen in real life - a cyber crime is one which is done via a computer or a computer network. Malicious individuals will aim to exploit people through tactics using technology, in the hopes of getting personal information which can then lead them to make money. Cyber criminals can either be individuals or cybercrime undercover organisations, the latter increasingly using sophisticated tactics to get the information they need.
Cyber crimes are usually classified in two categories; the first one being about crimes targeting computers through the usage of viruses and other malware, and the other one being about crimes using computers to commit other crimes. Cyber crimes include, amongst others, activities such as email fraud, identity fraud, phishing emails, theft of financial data, the online selling of illegal items, ransomware attacks, theft of corporate data, and so on.
The Consequences of Poor Cyber Security
Poor cyber security practices can have devastating consequences. Cybersecurity attacks can lead to the loss of confidential data such as customer records, financial information, and protected health information. Such attacks can also be used to activate malicious software and spread across businesses’ internal networks undetected for extended periods of time.
The effects of a successful cyberattack are far-reaching and long-lasting since companies often have to invest heavily in new hardware, software and consulting services to restore their security system. Businesses must remember that prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to cyber security as the cost of not investing proper resources into security programs or training employees can be extremely detrimental in the long run.
The Importance of Protecting Personal Information
In today’s digital world, protecting personal information is more important than ever. With the rise of data breaches, identity theft and fraudulent activities, it is essential to understand the risks associated with not safeguarding your private information.
By being aware of what pieces of personal data can be exposed and implementing precautionary measures to help prevent a potential breach or attack will not only benefit businesses but individuals as well. Understanding what security protocols can be adopted to protect your firm against hackers, phishing attempts and malware attacks should be part of regular cybersecurity practice. The importance of taking protective measures and staying educated on the latest threats should not be overlooked. Protecting your personal information should always be at the forefront of any online activity that entails sensitive data.
The Case Study: The Uber Cyber Attack
The infamous cyber attack on Uber can easily be used as a perfect example of why Cyber Security is so important within organisations.
In recent months, Uber reported the biggest breach they have ever had, causing their stock price to plummet by nearly 7% within the space of a few hours after announcing what had happened.
As a global and leading technology brand, many would have thought their security measures would be some of the best in the sector, but we have now seen that this is not the case. The Uber personal information breach has caused over 57 million riders to have their name, address, vehicle registration and some payslips released. How it happened? Via a method titled “Social Engineering”, which consists of an existing employee being psychologically manipulated in order for a hacker to gain confidential information.
In Uber’s case, a simple Two Factor Authentication breach enabled the hackers to use the Social Engineering method. Employees would have multiple 2-FA confirmation notifications come through to their device, getting them irritated along the way and succumbing to entering their details.
This allowed the hackers to gain system account details and passwords easily, ultimately resulting in millions of GDPR breaches. After frantically trying to resolve the breach, Uber finally blocked access to all shared documents and secured their servers.
And not even 24 hours later, Uber had more than 80 new Security vacancies available in the United States alone.
This goes on to show how many organisations have taken in the past the approach of reducing cyber costs to instead spend more in different departments, not entirely realising how unbelievably crucial it is to maximise security measures. A rhetorical question which is being passed around the cyber industry nowadays is Would the Uber breach still have happened if they had hired more employees before the breach? Would they have been able to save millions in damages and save customer details from being sold online to malicious hackers?
These days, cyber criminals have increasingly innovative ways to perform devastating attacks due to becoming more technically advanced. This decade has made the vast majority of companies rethink their Security strategies and therefore can be represented in the 800,000 job vacancies being opened in 2020, with a projected forecast of 3.5 million cyber security job openings by 2025, increasing by more than 100% per year. Cyber Security is one of the only industries that has an unemployment rate of 0% since 2016, with the talent gap still widening today.