Cyber Awareness Month - What You Can Do To Protect Yourself And Your Business
It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and in the current digital business landscape, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in maintaining our personal and organisational online security. As technology continues to advance, and cyber threats evolve at an unprecedented pace, the need for robust online security measures becomes increasingly critical.
Ensuring your systems are secure is not just about your company's data, but also about maintaining trust and credibility with your customers and stakeholders. This article aims to provide businesses and individuals with a guide to navigating the world of cyber security, with a focus on cyber awareness and the steps businesses can take to protect themselves from online threats.
Understanding the Threat Landscape
The online threat landscape is complex and constantly evolving. Businesses, irrespective of their size and industry, are potential targets for cybercriminals. Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are particularly prone to cyberattacks due to their often-limited cybersecurity measures. Despite the common misconception, no enterprise is too small or insignificant to be targeted. Cybercriminals often exploit the weakest link, and in many cases, that can be a small business.
The Rising Tide of Cyber Threats
As businesses become more reliant on the internet and digital technologies for their daily operations, they also become more appealing targets for cybercriminals. The exponential growth in cybercrime shows no signs of slowing down, and businesses can no longer afford to ignore the importance of robust and effective cybersecurity measures.
The Cost of a Data Breach
Data breaches can have severe financial implications. The average cost of a data breach in Australia has grown 32% in the last 5 years, reaching AUD 4.03 million according to report findings (IBM 2023). Across all Australian breaches studied, phishing scams (over 22%) and stolen or compromised credentials (over 17%) were the two most common attacks. Organisations that did not use security AI and automation in combating cyber threats experienced heavier breaches, costing an average of AUD 2.14 million more than those who deployed these technologies extensively (IBM 2023).
The time it takes for a cybercriminal to access private data through a phishing email is just over an hour, emphasising the urgent need for effective cybersecurity measures.
Moreover, cyber threats are not exclusive to external parties. Employee errors and behaviours can unintentionally facilitate cyberattacks. A significant percentage of all cyber claims stem from some form of employee error or behaviour, underlining the importance of cyber awareness and education within organisations.
Best Practices for Cybersecurity
Implementing robust cybersecurity measures should be a company-wide effort. Here are some best practices that businesses can adopt:
- Regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers.
- Install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available.
- Change the manufacturer’s default passwords on all software.
- Use a firewall for your internet connection.
- Regularly back up important data.
- Control physical access to your computers and other network components.
- Secure Wi-Fi networks.
- Implement individual user accounts for each employee.
- Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority for software installation.
- Monitor, log, and analyse all attempted and successful attacks on systems and networks.
- Secure mobile phones that contain sensitive information.
Tips for Employees
Employees play a crucial role in maintaining an organisation's cybersecurity. Here are some tips that employees can follow:
- Use strong passwords, change them periodically, and never share them with anyone.
- Do not use the same password across multiple accounts or services
- Protect private information by not disclosing it unless necessary.
- Don’t open suspicious links and emails - if you are not sure, ask.
- Scan all external devices, such as USB flash drives, for viruses and malicious software (malware) before using the device.
Advancements in Cybersecurity
Innovation plays a crucial role in enhancing cybersecurity. Companies like Microsoft are investing in AI and other advanced technologies to transform security for their customers. These advancements not only cover more threat vectors but also deliver a coordinated experience across security.
Organisations that employed extensive use of both security AI and automation experienced a data breach lifecycle that was 117 days shorter compared to companies that did not (225 days vs 342 days) (IBM 2023).
As we celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it's important to remember that cybersecurity is a year-round effort. Businesses need to stay informed, continually discuss internet safety with employees, and implement cybersecurity awareness and education all year round.
To help support Australian businesses in this space, AIM has partnered with Academy Xi to deliver a Cybersecurity Fundamentals course that demystifies the world of cybersecurity and serves as an ideal starting point to gain a solid understanding of the advancements in technology and the risks organisations might encounter.
If you are instead looking to gain a deeper understanding of specific skills and methods to better protect your organisation, the Microcredential in Best Practice Cybersecurity is a course that will empower you to bridge the technical awareness gaps in your workplace.
By adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity and fostering a culture of cyber awareness, businesses can better protect themselves and their customers from the ever-evolving cyber threats.
Happy Cyber Month!