Protecting your business from cyber security breaches

According to the UK government’s 2021 Cyber Security Breaches Survey, around 40% of businesses suffered cyber security breaches in the previous 12 months, with a further quarter of those experiencing breaches at least once a week. And 20% of those businesses that were attacked ended up losing money, data or assets.

The leading causes of these breaches were phishing, impersonation and unauthorised use of systems and networks by staff. So, as the nature of cyber security threats continue to rise and evolve, how can your business identify potential breaches – and what measures should you take to protect yourself?

Identifying breaches

When your network’s been compromised, usually through hackers using a fake logon screen, they’ll access your emails and search for particular terms, such as ‘invoice’ or ‘payment’. Then they forward these emails to their own address and delete them from your account, so you don’t even know you’ve received them. Once they have the information they need, they can do whatever they want with it, such as sending new bank account details to the sender, so they receive any payments instead of your business.

To identify a potential breach, IT should be able to constantly monitor email rules and domains for any unusual activity. If there’s something that is not recognised, or something out of the ordinary is identified, it could mean your systems have been compromised. For example, if there’s a sudden upsurge in activity from an unusual geographical location, they can raise alerts in that region. Or if there’s a change in  permissions that are not recognised, IT needs to investigate it.

Security auditing tools

There are a number of auditing tools that you can use to check for unusual activity on your business systems, so you can identify security breaches before they lead to attacks. These have evolved utilising AI tools to automate response across your IT and stop sophisticated attacks such as ransomware from penetrating your IT network.

But, as with any IT investment, you need to make sure that these tools are right for your business, work with your existing applications and meet your security needs. For instance, you need to balance the costs against the advantages by assessing the value of the data you’re protecting to any potential hacker, as well as the size of your business, to evaluate whether it’s worth buying these tools.

Day-to-day measures

There are some more general approaches you can take to protect your business from security breaches, such as introducing multi-factor authentication and encouraging staff to use stronger unique passwords. There are various tools your IT can use to check the strength of passwords and ensure they’re unique and not on any blacklist of known passwords. Tightly managing this may allow you to mitigate the need for what can be more costly security tools.

Ensuring business continuity

As well as taking measures so you’re aware of potential breaches, you also need to make sure that you have the right measures in place to maintain business continuity in the event of an actual breach. This should be part of a business-wide disaster recovery plan so, if your organisation is the victim of an attack, you have effective back-ups in place that enable you to get your business up and running again as quickly as possible.

Concerned about cyber breaches? Talk to us

If you’re concerned about the on-going threat of cyber security breaches in your business, we can help you decide on the best way forward. We’ll discuss how to protect your data and will look objectively at your business, systems and security needs and work with you to develop an effective security plan.

If you would like to speak to us about any aspect of this article, contact Andrew Wayman at [email protected] or call our office on +44 (0)1344 870062.