Is your business safeguarded against cyber-attacks?

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WITH the cost of cyber attack to businesses estimated to be as much as £19,400, it is clear that cyber security is an issue that businesses would be foolish to ignore.

The recent Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022 report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) showed that cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent, with organisations reporting a significant increase in breaches over the last 12 months.

Perhaps the most concerning finding was that almost one in three businesses (31 per cent) suffering attacks said they now experience breaches or attacks at least once a week, illustrating just how many organisations are not adequately safeguarded against cyber-attack.

Recently a ransomware attack targeting KP Snacks lead to significant supply chain issues as the company was unable to process orders or dispatch goods and complete deliveries.

Similarly, Trust Ford, which operates across Northern Ireland was impacted by an attack last month which took its internal IT systems offline, jeopardising client data.

These examples illustrate how attacks can strike organisations operating in any sector and can have catastrophic and potentially very costly consequences for businesses and clients. Add the threat of legal fines and the situation becomes even more disastrous.

There are a number of different types of cyber-attacks to contend with, including ransomware, malware and phishing - with each designed to cause damage to computers, servers, and networks or to compromise information.

Data protection and privacy laws require the appropriate security management of all personal data held by a business - whether that data relates to employees or customers.

If this information is accidentally or deliberately compromised, and the business is found to have failed to deploy appropriate security measures, it may be subject to fines and regulatory sanctions.

The reputational cost of a major cyber attack can also be significant. If customers don’t trust an organisation to protect their data, they may take their business elsewhere – resulting in financial and reputational damage that can be extremely hard to undo.

So how can businesses step up their cyber-security?

The first step is to undertake a cyber risk assessment as this can help protect against an attack before it occurs by allowing for the identification, analysis and evaluation of cyber risks.

When carrying out an assessment, organisations should review their entire IT infrastructure to identify possible threats arising from people, processes and technologies as well as system vulnerabilities.

Penetration testing can also be incorporated into this process as this allows for the testing of a computer system, network or web application to find security vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit.

Businesses should also consider examining the risks posed by immediate third-party suppliers and whether their organisation or sector is particularly vulnerable to specific types of attack.

The second step is to implement all necessary measures to address any issues or gaps in cyber-security. With this in mind, it is worth considering the cyber essentials certification - a simple but effective government backed scheme that helps to protect your organisation, whatever its size, against a whole range of the most common cyber-attacks.

By identifying and mitigating any risks to cyber-security, businesses of any size can avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of cyber-attacks.

Act quickly and efficiently to protect your organisation, employees and customers.

Thomas O’Hagan is co-founder of the b4b Group