In this digital age, the shift to digital technology has propelled cybersecurity to become a major concern for both organisations and individuals. With the increased frequency of cyber attacks, businesses of all scale must implement counter-measures to protect themselves and their users. Cybersecurity is no longer a luxury but rather a necessity. According to statistics from Juniper Research, business losses due to data breaches will likely reach $5 trillion by 2024. Vigilance will be necessary to protect devices, networks, data and other valuable assets. In the EU, laws mandate that any company, regardless of its size, that contains data of EU citizens must strictly comply with data protection regulations. Non-compliance can result in fines of up to €4 million. Research indicates that 79% of consumers are concerned about data security and privacy issues, and multiple surveys have revealed it to be the biggest cause for concern for consumers. Consumers are apprehensive to avail services of companies that do not have robust data protection frameworks. Almost 70% of surveyed consumers have said that they look for honesty and transparency with their data when deciding what companies to trust.
Technologies like IoT, IoB, GPS, Bluetooth, and mobile devices are constantly collecting data about you. There is also constant surveillance by security agencies, which is diluting the value of privacy as an intrinsic right. Nothing is private anymore. With growing dissatisfaction and pessimism about data security, companies have a bigger responsibility to inspire confidence among its customers. Being a victim of cyberattack does not only lead to loss of sensitive data but also impacts customer acquisition and retention. Proper data management is vital to protect consumer privacy and safeguard business reputation.
How can companies protect themselves from cyberattacks?
- Data encryption– Data encryption converts data into complex code that becomes indecipherable. Only people with the secret decryption key can unlock the code. Even if the data is stolen by hackers, they won’t be able to decrypt without the secret key or use the information for malicious purposes. There are two types of encryption- asymmetric and symmetric encryption. Symmetric-key ciphers use the same secret key for encrypting and decrypting a message or file meanwhile asymmetric cryptography, also known as public-key cryptography, uses two different keys, one public and one private.
- Data backup– Companies must have data back up to ensure that they have access to important information required for organisational operation at all times. Data backup also ensures that hackers cannot hold your company’s data for ransom. Data backup plans must take a few things into account- what files to backup, what compression method to use, how often to run the backup, what kind of media on which to store the backups, and where to store the backup data for safekeeping.
- Educate the employees– All employees must undergo training to understand the company’s security protocols and how to identify risks. Security training can be part of the employee onboarding process. Companies must take the time to educate the workforce on how to identify possible breaches, what to do if they identify a threat, and whom to contact in the event of an emergency.
- Secure all software– Outdated software is more vulnerable to breaches. It’s important to update all software with it’s latest version to ensure better protection. All devices on the company’s network such as mobile devices, computers, and other IoT devices must be secured with multi-factor authentication.
- Separation of cloud data– More organisations are using the hybrid cloud as part of their data separation strategy. Storing data in separate clouds decreases the likelihood of extensive data loss or interruption. Data separation in cloud computing ensures that one user of a cloud service cannot interrupt or compromise the service or data of another. This boosts data protection and reduces vulnerability.
What can companies do in the aftermath of a cyberattack?
How a company reacts after suffering a data breach is crucial and has a consequential impact on business continuity and public perception. Here are some measures that companies can take in an event of a data breach:
- Responsiveness– Undoubtedly, there will be reputational damage post a security breach. Post-crisis communication must be designed carefully to ensure that the right message is sent across to the public and all other involved parties. A delayed or inadequate response can increase scrutiny and further damage the company’s brand valuation.
- Policy evaluation– There must be a thorough check-up and evaluation of all policies to identify what lead to the data breach. In most instances, it’s technical inadequacy that results in a cyberattack. But, there are other cases wherein data breach was the outcome of policy violations. Organisations must focus on creating coherent and strategic data policies that undertake security training, regular security evaluation, and increased compliance in its purview.
- Governance– Good governance is the heart of every successful cybersecurity program. Companies without good governance face organisational crisis at some point because there is a lack of responsibility and accountability in its structure. This makes them more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity protocols must take into account risk management, policy compliance, and incident handling strategies. Top-level management must ensure that the best policies and practices are being followed stringently company-wide at all times.
- Resilient systems– Post a data breach, companies must work to build and implement resilient technological mechanisms. Risk management and planning must be made agile to ensure that the organisation bounces back from disruption. Proactive management is key to handling potential uncertainties, hazards, and changes. Integration of risk and resilient mechanisms into the organizational culture will prevent future security breaches.
Data breaches can happen to anyone. Cybersecurity is a top priority for modern customers. Organizations must do more to ensure the safety of their customer data or they stand to lose them to the competitors. The only way to ensure data security is through constant vigilance and update.