Top cybersecurity pitfalls

Top cybersecurity pitfalls

In an age inundated with online devices, data digitisation and hyper-connectedness, it is more important than ever that companies appreciate the importance of protecting their data, and the financial repercussions they may face if they do fall victim to a breach. Companies that have never dealt with data security issues cannot fully anticipate the impact it can have on the sustainability of the business. 

What are cybersecurity threats?

A cyber or cybersecurity threat is a malicious act aimed at damaging data, stealing data, or disrupting digital life in general. Cyberattacks include threats like computer viruses, data breaches, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Cybersecurity thus refers mainly to protecting Internet-connected systems, including hardware, software, and data, from cyberattacks. Cyberattacks involves the following:

  • Data theft
  • Ransomware installation
  • Data corruption
  • Spyware

Businesses often find that the effects of any of the abovementioned attacks cause serious problems which they can find difficult to deal with if they arise. Although most companies have adequate cybersecurity measures in place to protect against these attacks, every organisation needs a cybersecurity policy that is not only implemented, but also updated regularly to ensure continued data protection.

Data refers primarily to the customer, transactional and businesses processes that are stored on a company’s computer systems. Data is thus one of the most critical assets of any company and by its very nature, is the target of cybercriminals and predators. Adequate protection does not only involve the latest software, but also employee education and an understanding of the most common cybersecurity pitfalls.

Common cybersecurity pitfalls

The six most common external threats that may compromise the cybersecurity of a company include:

Weak passwords 

It is often the case that employees use simple passwords and the same one across multiple accounts and platforms. Compromised user credentials is one of the most common methods of data being breached. Research shows that 81% of hacking breaches occur when a person’s login credentials are compromised.

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Lost or stolen devices

Handheld and portable devices, specifically smartphones are routinely lost, stolen, or misplaced and presents an ideal opportunity for business data to be viewed and/or shared. Statistics reflect that laptops and mobile phones are often targeted during robberies and losing a laptop can be quite a problem, especially if files are stored locally on the device and if it is not password protected.

Unsecure access

Remote working, specifically during the coronavirus pandemic means that staff often access work on data, emails, and files on their own devices. The problem lies with the encryption and vulnerability of personal devices. Data can easily be breached when a personal device may be less secure than a work one.

Lack of anti-virus software or expired protection

A common problem in companies is when computers run expired or old antivirus software that is not fit for purpose anymore. The outlook is bleak considering that a new malware specimen is released every 4.2 seconds and is indicative of the importance of keeping antivirus security measurements updated and current.

Ransomware/Phishing 

A major threat in the cybersecurity world is the use of ransomware or phishing emails since 91% of all cyberattacks start with a phishing email. A phishing attack occurs when an individual receives a fake email that imitates a credible organisation. These emails are used to gather information by forwarding the person to a similar fake website. pretending to be another. 

Leaked data

In today’s information rich environment and participatory culture, it is commonplace to share insecure and confidential information with people outside of their business. This poses a significant risk for companies since around 58% of users accidentally share sensitive information. The result can be unwanted access to confidential company data by unauthorised people who fall prey to unscrupulous cybercriminals and data peddlers

Businesses need a cybersecurity strategy that educates employees about the potential threats to security, the implications of a data breach and how to avoid them to help circumvent these problems and better protect their IT networks.

A technology-focused strategy is also needed to help reduce breaches alongside a company culture which takes cybersecurity seriously. Consumers are starting to understand that the responsibility of businesses is to keep their data safe, and accordingly, they expect the highest levels of online security to be in place to achieve that.

The aspect of data breaches is not only concerned with the invasiveness of such attacks but also the reputational damage that comes with the loss of confidence and trust in a business to protect its most valuable asset. Software, hardware and proven data security strategies are available to ensure they do not have a data breach, but it is the responsibility of businesses to educate and create awareness of the significance of data and how to keep it safe.

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