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The Beginner’s Guide to Cybersecurity Risks

by

Nov 21, 2021

Does the thought of cybersecurity threats keep you up at night?  

From one-person consultancies to multinational corporations, every business is at risk of a cyber attack. That’s why all organizations—regardless of industry or size—need to strengthen their defenses against threats.  

But cybersecurity is a complex discipline. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the information out there. If you’re not sure where to begin, start by familiarizing yourself with some key cybersecurity terms. By gaining a basic understanding of common risks, you can start reducing your company’s exposure to threats. 

In this post, we will go over the basics of cyber risk.  

What Are the Biggest Cybersecurity Risks? 

A common formula to describe risk is Risk = Threat x Vulnerability x Impact 

Cyber threats can disrupt your computer system by exploiting your vulnerabilities. Consequently, your organization can suffer a damaged reputation and financial loss. Here are some common cybersecurity risks and how to manage them: 

Neglecting the Cybersecurity Basics  

People generally know very little about cybersecurity, which makes them vulnerable in the digital world. Since your business, like all others, is at risk of cyber attacks, you need to practice strong security risk management. Neglecting to do so can threaten your entire organization. 

Ask yourself the following questions to determine where your company stands:  

  • Do you know where all your data is stored?  
  • Do you regularly monitor your systems and applications?  
  • Do you have a formal security incident response plan?  
  • Do you provide all employees with security training?  

By neglecting to cover your security bases, you’re unwittingly inviting a cybercriminal to attack your company.

Lacking a cybersecurity policy 

A thorough cybersecurity policy is essential for all businesses today. To protect your company’s sensitive data and ensure everyone is on the same page, take the time to develop clear policies and communicate them to all employees.  

Here are some points to include in your policy:  

  • How to spot and respond to cyber threats  
  • Data storage and access methods  
  • Guidelines on password requirements  
  • Updating endpoint security software  
  • Internet usage  
  • Securing all personal devices 

Only Focusing on Compliance  

Compliance does not equal cybersecurity. When developing your security strategy, don’t simply check off the necessary boxes to pass a compliance audit.  

When it comes to safeguarding your company, this checkbox approach won’t cut it. While you want to ensure your staff meets compliance requirements, keep in mind compliance and security have different functions. Strong cybersecurity protects your company’s sensitive data, while compliance demonstrates that your security program meets specific standards. Compliance requirements can’t keep up with just how quickly the cybersecurity landscape is evolving.  

Do more than the bare minimum to protect your company. Take a proactive approach to cybersecurity and create a multilayered, cohesive security strategy. 

Employees  

Your employees are your greatest assets—but they’re also your biggest threats.  

In fact, 58 percent of all cybersecurity incidents can be attributed to insider threats, according to a report by Clearswift.  

Human error is a leading cause of security breaches—for example, an employee might click on a link in a phishing email or misdeliver sensitive information. Employees are the weakest link in your cybersecurity architecture since they often prioritize convenience over security. If your employees aren’t aware of the dangers or if they carelessly share personal information, they can cause some serious damage to your organization.  

What’s the best way to mitigate risk? Educate your employees about cyber threats, security policies, and their responsibility in protecting company information. Incorporate cybersecurity into your onboarding process and maintain education programs throughout the year.  

While it may be difficult to accept, terminated or disgruntled employees also pose a big risk to your company. They often have financial motives to corrupt company data or share information with a competitor.  

How can you protect your company from malicious insider threats? Know where your sensitive data is stored and monitor your employees’ daily activities. You should also conduct exit interviews to ensure all company property is returned before an employee leaves. 

Cyber Crime

In the world of computer security, cybercrime generally refers to the attempts to exploit systems and gain unauthorized access to data.  

While some hacking terminology seems to come straight out of science fiction, cyber threats are in fact a big part of our reality.

Common Cyber Threats

Botnets

A group of internet-connected devices that create infected computers (known as zombies). Remotely controlled by a hacker, botnets largely go undetected and spread malware, spam, and more.  

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) 

A form of attack where multiple zombie computers overwhelm a website or server and cause a complete system crash.

Malware

Different types of software—including viruses, worms, Trojans, and ransomware—that infiltrate and damage computer systems.  

Phishing

The attempt to steal personal information by sending fake emails or messages for use in fraudulent activities.  

Ransomware

A type of malware that blocks access to a computer system until the victim pays a ransom fee. 

Spoofing

A technique hackers often use in conjunction with phishing to hide their identity or pretend to be someone else to steal information. Website spoofing is when hackers recreate a website that closely resembles the authentic one to trick users into entering personal information.  

Spyware

Software that enables a user to secretly gather information about a person or organization and send it to third parties.  

Trojan Horses

A malicious computer program disguised as legitimate software that gives a hacker remote access to a computer. A Trojan Horse can collect information, delete your files, or use your computer to hack other computers.  

Viruses

A type of malware that replicates itself and spreads from one computer to another. It can find personal information, send spam, and corrupt your computer system.  

Worms

Malware that can replicate itself and spread to other computers in a network. Unlike a virus, a worm is a standalone software that doesn’t attach to files or programs.

How can you protect your organization?

Protecting your company from cyber risks takes time and effort. But with the rise of sophisticated attacks, you know you can’t afford to put cybersecurity on the back burner.  

Since they don’t have the expertise in house, many companies are turning to cybersecurity consultants to strengthen their defenses against cyber threats. By partnering with industry experts, you can confidently manage your cybersecurity risk and gain peace of mind. 

Have RBF? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Treating Ransomware Breach Face!

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