Cyber crime and the economy are inextricably intertwined.
The economy has a direct impact on cyber crime. This means the pain of the upcoming – or current, according to some experts – recession will potentially be felt across numerous aspects of your business. In anticipation of this economic downturn, many businesses will unintentionally make themselves more vulnerable to attack. How?
Organizations large and small will be looking to cut costs. For many, this will mean overlooking cyber security as a priority and cutting back on new security hires or ventures – or cutting down on the security teams they already have. This will inevitably exacerbate their cyber skills gap and leave them more vulnerable to attack. Understanding what skills your security and IT teams bring to the table is the first step toward ensuring your business is equipped to prevent, detect, and respond effectively to threats. This will ultimately reduce the impact of cyber attacks on your organization.
When companies cut budgets and lay off employees to save money, they unintentionally make themselves vulnerable to attack.
What We’ve Seen In The Past:
Based on data from the past two recessions to hit North America, it’s evident that cyber criminals use times of economic downturn to their advantage. A recession is more likely to incentivize cyber criminals rather than deter them.
Based on data from the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Internet Crime Complaints Center, the height of the recession in 2009 saw a 22% increase in cyber crime (as compared with the previous year).
When COVID-19 struck in 2020, North America encountered another recession. Unemployment peaked and this time, cyber crime spiked by 69.4% from the previous year.
While these two occurrences demonstrate a connection between recession, unemployment rates and cyber crime, the truth is, recession or not, cyber attacks are becoming more prevalent – and businesses are becoming more vulnerable. The average number of attempted cyber attacks per company increased by 31% between 2020 and 2021, according to Accenture’s State of Cybersecurity Report 2021. In 2023, data breaches are expected to grow to 15.4 million.
To make matters worse, over the next three to five years, approximately one third of organizations will be moving more than 75% of their workloads into the cloud. Despite this shift, 32% say cybersecurity is not a part of their cloud discussion. The result? These organizations are now struggling to gain better visibility into their digital attack surface. Too often, organizations can’t keep up with their own rapid digital transformation and find themselves unable to understand – let alone control or protect – their full digital attack surface.
How Can Businesses Prepare Themselves?
Cyber crime can have a significant negative impact on your business if proper precautions are not taken to prevent it. Because data and digital services are critical to business operations, it’s imperative to protect these assets. Keep your business safe from cyber crime with these tips:
1. Secure your networks, devices, and databases
Software updates may contain important security upgrades for current viruses and attacks and patches for security flaws. Ensure you are regularly updating your software.
Install security software
Malware or other viruses can infect computers, laptops, and mobile devices. Install security software on all business computers and devices to prevent infection. Make sure the software includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam filters.
Set up a firewall
A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that acts as the gatekeeper for all incoming and outgoing traffic to your computer. Setting up a firewall can protect your business’s internal networks.
Turn on spam filters
Use spam filters to reduce the amount of spam and phishing emails that your business receives. Spam and phishing emails are increasing and can be used to infect your computer with viruses or malware that steal confidential information.
2. Back Up Your Data
Backing up your business’s data and website will help you recover any information you lose if you experience a cyber incident or unexpected technical issue. As one of the most cost-effective forms of cyber security, there’s no reason why this practice can’t be adopted immediately. Be sure to use multiple back-up methods to a portable device or cloud storage as well as weekly, quarterly, and yearly server back-ups. Regularly check and test that you can restore your data from your back-up.
3. Train Your Employees
Over 90% of cyber attacks are a result of human error. By building a culture of awareness, you are allowing your employees to become the first and last line of defence against a cyber incident. This is why it is crucial to educate employees on how to identify, avoid, and deal with a cyber threat. This means more than a one-shot email about cyber security – take the time to talk about cyber security frequently, provide on-going training and resources and update your policies.
Training programs can provide great insight into relatable and real-world cyber threats. They can improve your employees’ ability to spot suspicious activity by teaching them to look out for the following signs:
- Appearance of new apps/programs on their devices
- Pop-ups during device start-up, operation, or before shutdown
- Slow device
- Suspicious emails, texts, or phone calls from colleagues
4. Create Security Policies
It’s important to create a cyber security policy for your business – especially if you have employees. This will help your employees understand their role in protecting your business’ technology and data. When preparing your policy, ensure it guides your employees on:
- The type of business information that can be shared and where
- Acceptable use of devices and online materials
- How to handle and store sensitive material
- Password security
5. Prepare a Cyber Security Incident Response Plan
An incident response plan helps you prepare for and respond to a cyber incident. It outlines the steps you and your staff need to follow. Consider the following stages when preparing a cyber security incident response plan:
- Develop policies and procedures to help employees understand how to identify suspicious activity and prevent an attack.
- Identify the assets that are important to your business and consider the steps you need to take to protect these assets.
- Create specific roles and responsibilities so everyone knows who to report/what actions to take if an incident occurs.
6. Work with a Managed Service Provider (MSP)
As organisations continue to face daily cyber threats without the necessary resources to deal with them, they are increasingly turning to third parties to manage their security. As the recession looms, cyber security vendors and managed service providers may be the key to keeping businesses safe from potential attacks.
Hiring an MSP can bridge the gap in an organization’s IT department by delivering high-performance and secure business technology. MSPs work remotely to give specialized support in areas such as technology and cyber security – meaning they can be available 24/7 to tackle any issues that may arise. For businesses looking to cut down on costs in times of economic uncertainty, outsourcing IT services can be more cost-effective than hiring full-time in-house IT staff.
With the average cost of a data breach equaling $4.35 million in 2022, it’s more important than ever for business to prevent security incidents before they happen. If they don’t, they are putting themselves at risk of greater economic instability in a time when it will be more difficult to financially bounce back.
Protecting your business from cyber attacks is serious business. The good news is, partnering with a Managed Service Provider like Synchroworks can be the key to protecting your business’ future.
Contact us today to learn more about our Managed Services.