When you first start a business, IT security is something that you may not put much thought into. However, cybercriminals target businesses of all sizes so assuming that they will overlook a startup to target more prominent companies is a huge mistake. Many businesses that ignore this fact end up suffering the consequences when there is a breach and they’re held liable. As you can imagine, this can be a heavy legal and financial blow to an up-and-coming company.
The good news is that by familiarizing yourself with IT security procedures early on, you will be in a good position to upgrade them as your business grows. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the reasons IT security is important for a growing business, what can happen if you neglect it, and the most common types of attacks you can expect.
Common IT Security Breaches to Watchout For
Let’s start by going over some of the most common threats your company will be exposed to. This will give you a good idea of why these problems are so serious and how to prevent them.
Most IT security breaches happen because the employees of a business get into areas they’re not supposed to be. These can be physical filing cabinets for companies that still use them, but more commonly, it is employees getting into restricted areas of their employer’s network. This isn’t because your employees are necessarily more devious and prone to criminal behavior than other people, it’s because accessing private information on a company network is much easier for people who work there rather than it is for people launching an attack from outside.
Preventing your employees from getting into sensitive information is usually as easy as installing basic IT security measures that section off portions of the network and allow only authorized personnel to access them. This can take the form of passworded folders and a hierarchical network structure where your employees cannot access anything above their clearance level.
Improper Waste Disposal
Another area where IT security breaches are common is improper waste disposal. Sometimes sensitive info is written down or printed out, only to be carelessly thrown away with the rest of the trash. People looking for this information may go dumpster diving to find it. In other cases, an opportunistic garbage person may notice the information and decide to sell it to a cyber-criminal. In either case, having this information leaked could be a disaster for your company.
Hiring a trash pickup service that specializes in shredding documents is a great way to eliminate the possibility of this kind of security breach. If this isn’t in your budget, making sure that your employees have access to a paper shredder can also help keep you safe from those who seek access to sensitive data.
External Cyber Attacks
Sometimes threats to your IT security can come from outside your workplace. This can take a variety of forms, but all of them can be devastating if you’re unable to stop them. Here is a quick list of external security thereats that you should be aware of:
- DDoS attacks
- Man in the middle
- SQL injection
Dealing with threats such as these is best done by making sure that your systems have the latest up-to-date anti-virus/malware programs installed. You should also educate your employees so that they don’t fall for phishing scams via email or open a file that contains a virus. As for problems such as DDoS attacks, your hosting company can typically provide protection from problems like that.
Consequences of Weak Cyber Security
Now that you’re familiar with some of the most common types of IT breaches, let’s take a look at what could happen if you neglect your cyber security. While most of these problems aren’t impossible to recover from, they can deal a major blow to your company.
Identity theft is one of the most common reasons people attempt a security breach of a business. By getting access to the data of the customers of a company, they can then sell it online for a big payday. Types of data that identity thieves tend to look for are:
- Credit card numbers
- Personal info (date-of-birth, address, etc.)
- Social security number
- Bank account numbers
While you’ve probably heard about some of these types of security breaches in the news, don’t assume that cyber-criminals only target big companies for identity theft. It’s important to take this threat seriously and prepare for it since it is so common.
Lawsuits From Clients, Customers, and Employees
If you suffer a data breach and sensitive information gets out concerning your customers, clients, and/or employees, then you could be looking at some pretty severe lawsuits. When people work for you or do business with you, they expect their data to be protected. Even if the data thieves are the ones to blame, you’ll usually be left holding the bag if a breach happens since the criminals are rarely caught and the damage tends to be irreversible. This just makes it all the more important to take IT security seriously from the start.
Being Forced to Pay a Ransom
Ransomware is one of the most insidious forms of cyber attack you can experience online. Usually what happens during a ransomware attack is that a piece of malware will get into your system and lock you out of it until the ransom is paid. Unfortunately, many people chose to pay the ransom since it’s the fastest way to regain access to their system and get their business up and running again. However, this just encourages cyber criminals to continue using ransomware for easy paydays.
There are a variety of ways that ransomware can get onto a company system. Here is a quick look at the most common methods:
Phishing – The cybercriminal will email employees of a company in an attempt to get them to click a link that will install the ransomware. This could even be fake emails from their manager or CEO.
Malvertising – The cybercriminal creates fake ads that will install malware when clicked. This method is much less direct than the previous but typically has a better conversion rate since it is less suspicious.
Social Engineering – The cybercriminal contacts a business directly by pretending to be a customer, cyber security expert, or law enforcement official such as an FBI agent. They then use their access to the company’s network to install the ransomware.
Protecting Your Data and Your Business
The easiest way to avoid being the victim of ransomware or the other data security threats we went over is to ensure that your IT security is on point from day one. This can be as simple as purchasing antivirus software and some paper shredders for your employees.
However, as your business grows, your IT security measures will need to grow as well. This can mean hiring a professional paper shredding service and/or outsourcing your entire network to a managed IT service company like MyTek and letting them handle cyber security. You’ll also want to check in with your hosting provider to see what kind of enhanced IT security options they offer. In any case, it is always better to invest in IT security than to become the victim of a breach and suffer the financial consequences.