The faceless men, keyboard warriors, hacktivists – or whatever you'd like to call the perpetrators of increasing attacks on the digital assets of big business around the world – have grown from an initial bunch of boy scouts in the early 90s into a full-scale guerrilla army.
And if you think your business is safe, or nondescript enough to not attract the attention of online vandals, thieves and mischief makers, you might want to think gain.
In the UK, for example, according to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2016, two thirds of the largest businesses in the UK suffered a data breach within the past twelve months - and a quarter of those experienced a breach at least once per month.
1. The biggest threat
According to the report, by far the most common reason for suffering a data breach was via virus, spyware, or malware, with just over two thirds stating that they'd suffered a cyberattack of this kind.
Meanwhile, hackers “impersonating members of the organisation” is the second most common reason for organisations to suffer a data breach, with a third of firms revealing they'd been attacked in this way.
In other words – you can't afford to be lazy. It's essential that you keep your staff informed with developments in online security and the potential areas of your business where you might experience a 'breach'.
2. Educate employees
Tech writer and author Katrina Manning says many business owners are, in fact, surprised that the biggest cyber security risk for their business is often their employees.
“In many cases, criminals will get inside a network thanks to one of your employees clicking on a line in an email or using a poor password,” she writes on the Business 2 Community website.
“(So) it is important to stay updated on the latest scams that are going around and to keep your employees aware of the scams, as well.”
“One of the simplest strategies, you can use immediately, is ensuring that your entire network is up to date,” Manning says. “This means paying attention (to) all notifications regarding updates to your operating systems, anti-virus software, web browsers and firewalls. Ignoring any of these essentially leaves cracks in your defense system.”
3. Use strong, varied passwords, and change them often
Tech entrepreneur Gay Gaddis says the largest issue with security breaches today is “the cross-application password access that potential hackers can have when (employees) use similar passwords, interlocking accounts via Facebook sign up or easy password reminders”.
“To counteract this potential mistake, remember to always (instruct employees to) make a complex password and create a secondary account for administrator access to further protect (their) computer,” she says on the Forbes website.
“Additionally, ensure that the operating system and applications on your (employees' devices) are updated to the latest versions. While annoying, most of the times companies send updates because they have fixed vulnerabilities. It isn’t just about new features or design.”
“(And) by deleting (everyone's) history and cookies, it allows for specific ties to sites and potential remembered passwords to be forgotten on the web.”