Maintaining a solid online presence is an essential aspect of running a business nowadays. Most consumers are already online, so the internet is the perfect place to reach out and expand your target demographic. Besides advertising on social media and through email newsletters, most companies also have their own dedicated business website. But in an era where cybercrime is on the rise, running your own online business can also be the source of several risks. How can you protect the valuable data you store online from getting stolen or destroyed?
Why Data Breaches Occur – and How to Prevent Them
When running your own company, there are many issues to take into account – and cybersecurity has risen to the forefront of what concerns business owners recently. The recent wave of ransomware and phishing attacks has shown that no company is safe. As enterprises are diverting funds into getting more prepared for potential hacker attacks, they need to start by evaluating the risks. Data loss prevention lies at the core of any cybersecurity strategy. It refers to the process of detecting and preventing data breaches, including the destruction of valuable and sensitive data. In most notable cases, the cause of a data leak is a malicious external intruder, as hackers are increasingly interested in stealing data. They can then use it to extort their victims, commit identity theft, or gain unauthorized access to their target’s finances to make a quick profit. According to research published on Statista, non-payment or non-delivery was the leading form of cybercrime in 2017, with a whopping 84,079 cases recorded by the FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center, while phishing and its variants ranked third at 25,344 cases and identity theft came in sixth with 17,636 incidents recorded.
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Yet very often, loss of data can also be traced to insider threats, such as users whose accounts have become compromised and have inadvertently given inside access to a cybercriminal, or even disgruntled employees with access privileges that mean to do harm. Data breaches are also often traced back to careless insiders whose actions result in unintentional data exposure, such as employees who fail to comply with internal policies regarding cybersecurity or who accidentally make sensitive data public. In order to be truly safe, any enterprise must consider different ways to address every one of these potential sources of a data breach. They must also understand what is at stake. Hackers usually intend to steal data, but they also often just seek a way to destroy it, for various reasons. Some cybercriminals are just testing the waters by infecting your systems before they launch further attacks – while others could just be having fun seeing whether they can penetrate your defenses or be competing for bragging rights. It is important to realize that the motives of hackers can vary and that paying a ransom in a ransomware attack, for instance, will not necessarily bring your encrypted data back.
Investing in Cybersecurity
Instead, it is crucial to be proactive when it comes to cybersecurity. This is especially true when it concerns your business website, which is pivotal for the success of a company and for increasing sales. News travels fast, and falling victim to a data breach can mean that you lose clients quickly. According to research published by WPforms, 55% of consumers will look online for feedback and reviews before buying, with 47% visiting the website of the company. In fact, 47% of individuals tend to share any reviews they have regarding a purchase on the vendor’s webpage, while 31% take to Facebook, 17% to WhatsApp and 12% to Instagram. And the impression that your website makes is lasting: as per the same source, 95% of all shopping will take place through e-commerce by 2040, while 30% of clients will prefer returning to a website they have already shopped at. And nothing could be worse for sales than consumers trying to visit your website only to find out you have been hacked, or for consumers to look elsewhere after reading about it in online reviews.
Setting up a data loss prevention plan, complete with cybersecurity solutions, has truly become a necessity. Widely used tools like anti-virus software and anti-malware need to be installed on every company computer in order to safeguard against low-level hacker attacks. More sophisticated solutions, like different types of firewalls for your various resources, including web application firewalls, are also part of any good prevention plan. Data encryption is strongly advised, especially for businesses handling sensitive data or financially critical information like banking details. Besides cybersecurity solutions, it is also crucial to invest in human capital. Any reputable business has devoted a considerable part of its budget to seeking and acquiring the right IT and cybersecurity support.
The exact way to do that will be tailored to your needs. Big multinational companies, as a rule, need their own in-house IT department, while for smaller enterprises, hiring an external consultant might be a more cost-effective solution. Finally, training your employees on how to recognize and avoid risks can transform your staff into an added layer of defense, rather than an extra liability.
No matter its size or the industry that it’s active in, every business out there could become a target for hackers – which is why it is important to be proactive and invest in cybersecurity across all sectors.