When you hear the term cybersecurity, you would be forgiven if your mind wandered to an image of a Hollywood-style hacker, frantically typing away in front of multiple monitors, with lines of code pouring down the screens.
This is the impression put upon us by shows and movies like Mr. Robot and The Net. While there might be a slither of truth in them, the way that we think about cybersecurity needs to be different.
It’s a very real threat in today’s world. With advancements in technology and downing of barriers making life sweeter for many businesses, it’s also opened the door to one or two bad eggs.
Now, cybersecurity attacks aren’t large-scale, nation-felling, apocalypse-bringing disasters like they’re made out to be in the aforementioned entertainments, but, more akin to the problems Facebook have faced recently.
While Facebook didn’t undergo a cybersecurity attack, it came to light that they were perhaps wrongly collecting and using users’ data for a profit. In the modern world, data is everything. And a misuse of it, is arguably against basic human rights.
Facebook being right or wrong is neither here nor there, but, what it has done is put a spotlight on the importance and value of people’s data. Add in the upcoming GDPR regulations and you’ve got yourself the most sensitive period for user data, ever.
And this is where the question of cybersecurity comes in to play. Are you and your business taking the right steps to protecting your users and clients’ data, and using it correctly?
Below are a few fundamental, yet vital steps that you should check off to make sure you are both adhering to the GDPR regulations, and, in turn, protecting yourself from any cyber-attacks.
Proper Data Usage and Storage
We’ve already touched upon the new GDPR regulations, but, to expand: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) addresses the storing and export of personal data. It protects EU citizens from businesses and organisations from using their personal data irresponsibly or without their knowledge.
Now that we’ve got that out the way, here’s what you should do to make sure you are adhering to these regulations. You should start by reviewing the information that you are holding. If this is classed as personal information, you need to make sure that the person whose data it is, knows that you have it, and that they have given their consent for this.
You may need to change your current privacy notices on your websites to make this clear, and ensure that you identify any lawful basis for you holding and processing this data.
The above sounds quite dry, and technical, but, it’s paramount that you are following it, and continue to do so.
Now that you’ve got your own house sorted, you must make sure it is safe from any external threats. While we’ve already covered that these threats aren’t in the form of Hollywood-hackers, there are those out there who can and will take advantage of any security issues to get their hands on valuable data.
Data-miners, scammers, phishing attacks, malware attacks – these are all very real threats, and, if you don’t have proper security measures in place, you’re putting both your company and your users’ data on the line.
Undertaking cybersecurity training is a wise choice for both you and your company. This will be large scale, but, it’s important that you are completely aware and in control of any potential threats.
Digital footprints need to be audited, third-party security must be air-tight, your social media activity must be administered – these are just a few of the boxes that need to be checked to have an effective defence against potential external attacks.
While the majority of threats are external, it’s equally as important to make sure that there’s no chance of internal threats, either.
To go back to the Hollywood-hacker metaphor, internal security issues won’t be all cloak-and-dagger, insider trading, but, more human error. Even so, 74 percent of companies feel that they are vulnerable to insider threats. So, it’s imperative to make sure your internal security is as tight as your external security.
Insider threats can manifest in many ways, including the aforementioned human error, but, there can also be cases of employees deliberately stealing data for personal gain, or doing a competitor’s bidding or corporate espionage.
To prevent these, you must be on top things like of user access control and employee training – so they know what they’re doing. Conducting background checks for new employees can also be important in preventing any future problems.
The above may seem straightforward, but, you would be surprised at the number of organisations that do have flaws in their cybersecurity. Just under half of all UK businesses have experienced at least one cybersecurity attack in 2017. Despite this, only one in ten say they have a cybersecurity incident management plan in place.
However, if you follow the above advice and sort out the fundamentals, then you’ll be in a much safer, and much easier position.