Four Key Cybersecurity Threats To Your BusinessOctober 25, 2023

In today’s interconnected business environment, data drives business insights and technology are central to operations and customer interactions. While the digitalization of business operations and corporate data can provide immense benefits, it also creates new opportunities for bad actors. Cybersecurity measures help protect your business against vulnerabilities created by reliance on electronic data. It’s important to be as proactive as possible in identifying potential threats and implementing measures to minimize the risk of a cyber incident. Importantly, key threats to your business are likely found both externally and internally. Let’s start with two key external threats first.

  1. Ransomware

Ransomware involves bad actors accessing and encrypting your business data or systems and demanding a ransom. If you refuse to pay the ransom, these bad actors generally threaten to delete or publish critical business data. Regularly backing up your data to an external hard drive or cloud server is one of the easiest ways to guard against the effects of a ransomware attack. However, to prevent an attack from occurring, you should ensure your systems have proper detection/monitoring software to quickly identify and stop unauthorized access. Relatedly, you should also keep your operating systems, software, and applications regularly updated with proper antivirus software and firewalls. It is also best practice to segment your network into smaller networks that operate individually. Further, you should be limiting user access privileges so that users have permissions to access only the data they need to work. Both of these measures minimize the amount of information a cybercriminal can access if one account or system is compromised.

  1. Social Engineering

Social engineering involves using deception to manipulate individuals into providing sensitive personal, financial, or business information. A common example involves a bad actor posing as someone with whom your business likely has an existing relationship convincing your employee to provide your bank information or wire money to a fraudulent account. Although firewalls can minimize the number of phishing attacks, regular team training is critical. This training must not only explain the mechanisms behind social engineering scams, but also provide interactive training at recognizing and responding to such attempts at deception. Continuous training throughout the year creates a vigilant team capable of warding off sophisticated scams. You should also track the progress of your teams, using their performance to guide future training.

Although ransomware and social engineering represent significant external threats to your business, you should also be aware that internal threats can cause as much as—as sometimes more—damage. Let’s look at a few important internal threats.

  1. Enterprise System Integration

Your business likely involves multiple systems which collect and analyze data. Sometimes these systems are entirely controlled by your business, but more often businesses rely on third-party technologies and platforms to run payroll, develop new products, and conduct market research. The use of third-party vendors can sometimes result in businesses “losing track” of which vendors have access to what data and what internal systems. If your enterprise data is unorganized, it can make it more challenging to identify vulnerabilities and unauthorized access. Relatedly, third-party technologies, while enhancing service and operations, introduce potential threats since your security is dependent on the cybersecurity measures of that third-party. You need to thoroughly vet and collaborate with vendors to ensure accountability, but your team must also fortify your internal systems in line with industry best practices.

  1. Insider Threats

Finally, internal threats represent some of the most frequent cause of cyber incidents. These incidents can result from a variety of sources, such as a disgruntled employee, ex-colleague, or even an innocent mistake. You can minimize the risk of insider threats with a few simple measures. First, develop and implement a thorough onboarding and offboarding process, with particular attention to quickly eliminating access and recovering data in the possession of someone going through offboarding. Relatedly, you should ensure that users have access only to the data and systems required to complete their work during onboarding.

These are just a few key threats likely facing your business. A proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity—from addressing the risk of social engineering to insider threats—is crucial for your organization’s defense. By remaining vigilant and strategic, your business can not only protect itself but also maintain the trust of your customers and business contacts.

Sarah M.D. Luth is an Intellectual Property Attorney in the MVS Biotechnology & Chemical Practice Group. She is also Co-Chair of the MVS Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group. To learn more, visit our MVS website.

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