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Understanding Cyber Security Threats

In 2014, the federal government was the victim of 61,000 cyber security breaches. If the government is so vulnerable, what are the cyber security risks for businesses, whether large or small? Revisit the cyber security threats facing modern businesses to learn how to best protect your business from threats.

Cyber Security Threats Facing Businesses

Businesses in all industries face a growing range of cyber security threats. Companies must understand the barrage of threats coming from attackers in order to implement a comprehensive security plan that addresses their vulnerabilities. Pressing concerns for small and large businesses include:

POS intrusions – While data mining from POS terminals has decreased in recent years, it’s still an area of concern.

Employee error – According to the Ponemon Institute, employee error is the top cause of data breaches. Until better training is implemented in workplaces, accidental employee error will contribute significantly to enterprise vulnerability.

Insider threat – While many employees who contribute to data breaches do so completely unaware, rogue employees with intent to steal data are a growing cyber threat.

Web app attacks – Malware, phishing, and stolen access credentials allow hackers to gain access to business assets via web app attack.

Internet of Things devices – Connected devices (from fitness trackers to automated access control systems) are projected to be a major gateway for data breaches in the coming years. Enterprises who want full protection must ensure connected IoT devices are covered by their cyber security plan.

Device loss and theft – From an employee losing a smartphone to a thief stealing a tablet, device loss and theft play a role in data breaches.

DDoS attacks – DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks can shut down business websites for extortion.

How to Fully Protect Your Business From Cyber Threats

There is a huge gap between awareness and preparedness for cyber threats, with companies of all sizes playing catch-up to find and fix vulnerabilities. Understanding the range of threats is a first step to protecting your business from cyber threats.

Once you know what you’re up against, perform a thorough assessment of your networked security system to identify areas where you are protected and where you remain vulnerable. Look at all your businesses processes and the technologies, applications, and data that directly support these. What applications are mission-critical to every department?

After you know what’s absolutely essential to protect, dig into the hardware that supports these applications and the infrastructure that links everything. Map the devices that use your network, including employee laptops or smartphones. Each device on the network could introduce risk. Now you know what you need to protect in terms of infrastructure and devices.

Identify which controls are already in place protecting the infrastructure and note what’s not protected. These are your vulnerabilities.

Next, find ways to reduce vulnerabilities. Applying patches to software, protecting access control gates with internal firewalls, and updating legacy software to newer versions are examples of steps you can take to protect vulnerable data.

There’s no doubt that cyber security will continue to be a growing threat for today’s businesses. Take steps now to mitigate damages, including having a method to communicate breaches (or potential breaches) quickly throughout the organization.