Written by: Kevin Gardner
All companies must keep their clients and customers safe. With so many business transactions taking place online, the threats to safe commerce have never been greater. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that companies and their clients can take to stay secure. Here are five major threats to cybersecurity and how to stop them.
1. Phishing Attacks
One of the greatest threats to cybersecurity has little to do with computer science and everything to do with how users approach the internet. Phishing attacks happen when a cybercriminal fakes their credentials in order to appear legitimate and then cons a victim into giving out their personal information. Tactics like caller ID spoofing make it incredibly simple for hackers operating at a distance to look local and trustworthy.
An especially big risk associated with phishing emails and texts comes in the form of ransomware. This malicious software is often sent in the form of a link. When someone clicks it, the program locks the computer unless a cash ransom is paid to the hacker. Make sure that everyone you deal with knows what a legitimate email or website associated with your company looks like, warn them never to click on unfamiliar links, and verify everything.
2. Unsecured Networks
These days, networking is both ubiquitous and automatic. Perhaps the most important idea to adopt is zero trust security architecture. This means insisting upon verified credentials from anyone accessing your network and limiting everyone's access to the minimum needed to accomplish a task. Often, people who shouldn't have advanced privileges are granted them. This lapse in security allows what's called lateral movement. Once a hacker gets inside, they can shift their focus rapidly and compromise the entire network. Warn clients not to do shopping or other financial transactions on public Wi-Fi networks, since these have notoriously weak security. They may ask what is ssh, which can help them stay safe if they must use an unsecured network. Most importantly, tell them that it's never wrong to request security bona fides from a company they're trusting with personal data.
3. Cloud Vulnerabilities
Cloud providers typically have the resources to enact good security protocols. Good, however, does not equate to perfect. Account hijacking, insecure application user interfaces (APIs), and system vulnerabilities arising from badly configured security tools are only a few threats rooted in cloud vulnerability. Make sure that your customers know the lengths you're willing to go to safeguard their data. Consider storing the most important information offline in encrypted flash drives kept in a safe. Upgrading your own cybersecurity tools and protocols will put customers at ease and earn their trust.
4. Weak Passwords
Verizon's 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed that weak passwords played a role in 81% of data breaches. Many people make the mistake of picking a password that's short enough (or familiar enough) to remember or re-using the same password several times. Both habits are a problem. Make sure your clients create passwords for their accounts that are at least 12 characters in length. Tell them to mix letters, numbers, and symbols. It might be hard for them to remember, but it'll also be hard for criminals to guess.
5. Obsolete Tech
Another major cybersecurity risk is the continued use of outdated hardware and software. Many people believe that using an old device poses no risk. Old computers often have multiple vulnerabilities, not to mention an increased risk of system crashes and data loss. Obsolete software can be even riskier. Downloading software updates might be annoying and time-consuming, but those updates usually contain patches for newly-found vulnerabilities in the program. Advise your clients to update their technology regularly to stay one step ahead of cybercrime.
Now that you have the knowledge, get the word out. Let customers and clients know the threats they face and the steps you're taking to mitigate them. Committing to client safety is the best way to earn client trust.