With Christmas fast approaching and with many people opting to do their Christmas shopping online rather than in-store, the threat of cyberattacks is certainly a higher risk at this time of year.
Given the current situation with the number of Covid cases on the rise and limits on the number of customers permitted in stores, this has encouraged even more consumers to spend their money online shopping rather than spending valuable time queuing to get into stores.
This has resulted in increased traffic to online stores, and increased money being spent online – with cybercriminals poised and ready to take advantage of vulnerable retailers and consumers alike.
Should Irish businesses be worried about cybersecurity?
Yes, the statistics are showing that cyberattacks are just as much of a dangerous threat to Irish businesses as anywhere else across the globe.
The Irish Times reports on a recent survey by Accenture, which states that almost 3 out of every 5 large Irish companies have recorded an attempted cyberattack in the last 12 months. A staggering 86% of the Irish businesses surveyed acknowledged that “staying ahead of the attackers is a constant battle”.
Furthermore, the study revealed that the current global pandemic hasn’t hindered the cybercriminals and that if anything, the “vulnerability and uncertainty has become a breeding ground for new attacks”.
And according to McAfee, a recent threat in the cyberworld is a loader malware called Zloader. It was first identified back in 2017 and is designed to steal cookies, passwords and other sensitive information. It is usually delivered through spam or phishing campaigns and it remains a popular choice among cybercriminals. The current threat severity of Zloader is flagged as ‘High’ so it’s definitely one that businesses should be concerned about at this busy time.
It is also worth noting that new threats emerge continually, such as the December 2021 emergence of ‘Cuba Ransomware’.
All of this is a stark reminder for businesses that investing in cybersecurity is an absolute priority and it’s important for businesses to recognise the value in this investment, as well as to be aware of the risks involved with not having a strategy in place to prevent cyberattacks.
At such a crucial time for sales, a cyberattack can have a devastating impact on businesses including loss of data, loss of sales, added stress on employees and the cost of restoring operations.
And it’s not just about protecting the business – protecting customer data is of huge importance as any security breaches can effectively put the customer at risk, which in turn can prove costly for the business and will result in customers losing trust in the business.
So what can a business do to prevent cyberattacks?
Prioritise cybersecurity within your business
This is particularly important for businesses who have had to adapt their organisation rapidly to facilitate remote working during the global pandemic. Temporary solutions are no longer adequate and without having the proper cybersecurity infrastructure or employee training, businesses are even more at risk of a cyberattack.
In terms of cyberattacks, prevention is better than cure so educating all employees on the risks of cyberattacks and how to identify a potential threat will play a key role in keeping businesses safe. Cybersecurity Awareness Training should be carried out during the onboarding stage for any new employees as well as being incorporated into the regular training schedule for staff across the board.
Use strong passwords and protect passwords from being revealed
It is vital that employees keep work and personal emails separate to reduce the risk of a cybercriminal getting access to the company’s data and systems, especially for those working remotely and possibly using personal devices for work purposes. Make sure all employees know how to create strong passwords and outline procedures for regular changing of passwords.
Immediately install any software updates required
The majority of software updates have been developed to tackle the latest known cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Ensure that all software is maintained and up to date to avoid opening the business up to new threats.
Outline procedures for data encryption
It is vital that data, particularly personal or sensitive information, is encrypted which makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to access it.
Ensure all data is backed up securely
Having sufficient backup processes in place will help recover any information that may be lost in the event a business experiences a cyber incident or tech issues. It’s essential that the most important data and information is backed up regularly to ensure business continuity.
Ensure that all suspicious activity is identified and logged
This is where employee training can really help in identifying phishing emails and website links from unknown sources. By showing employees examples of the latest sophisticated phishing emails, this can help them recognise threats and prevent exposing the business to a cyberattack.
Secure all hardware
Data breaches can also be caused by theft of hardware items such as phones, laptops, computers and servers so it is equally important that all hardware devices and equipment are given the same level of protection and stored safely and carefully.
How can Calnet IT help businesses from a cyberattack?
Having a business firewall in place will be a company’s first line of defence when it comes to a cyberattack. A firewall will identify and prevent malicious or suspicious traffic from reaching a business network. And unlike Anti-virus software, a business firewall protects the business’s entire network.
However, a firewall works most efficiently when coupled with an experienced technician to install it, monitor it and continuously upgrade as necessary.
Calnet’s managed Firewall-as-a-Service provides a flexible and affordable way to maintain best-in-class firewall protection for a business, with the expertise needed to make it effective.
As well as this, Calnet offers businesses the opportunity to roll out CyberSecurity Awareness Training across their organisations. This training combines regular online training with simulated attacks and in-depth reporting to dramatically reduce the risk of a business falling victim to a genuine cyberattack.
And as a final point, Calnet can offer businesses Network Infrastructure Support and Security. As mentioned earlier, it’s important for businesses to make cybersecurity a priority. This can often seem like a daunting task, but at Calnet we take on the tricky stuff so you don’t have to.
We work with you to provide infrastructure support services for the entire network that are tailored to suit each individual business needs. With the knowledge that your network is being actively monitored, supported and managed you can rest easy and instead focus on doing what you do best.
Get in touch with Calnet today to ensure that your business is protected during Christmas 2021 and beyond.