Cyberattacks are a real threat to a great many industries. They have cost the U.S. economy over $100 billion dollars in 2014 alone, and have put the personal information of approximately half of the U.S. adult population at risk. Some industries are more susceptible than others and are at a greater risk of becoming victims of cybercrimes than others. Cyber criminals certainly aim to get the most bang for their buck, and tend to target specific industries that offer the highest financial return for their efforts.
Targets and Methods
Every business conducted online is a potential target for cyberattacks, and those that rely on the internet for revenue can be sitting ducks for money-hungry hackers. According to a 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report conducted by Verizon, the highest data breaches by industry were those in the realm of public industries, financial services, accommodation, and manufacturing. And 29 percent of these attacks were conducted at the point of sale, with others assisted by the installation of crimeware, or as a result of cyber-espionage and insider misuse of data. This infographic titled, Who Are the Targets In Today’s Cyber War Zone?, offers a more in-depth industry breakdown of Verizon’s breach data.
Most security holes actually occur as a result of human error rather than software error, making employee conduct a highly important facet of keeping a business secure. Businesses employing individuals who are not well educated on privacy and security practices and do not conduct routine risk analyses to identify and resolve security holes run a higher risk of incurring large financial damages.
Prevention can go a long way towards maintaining a business’s state of security and data integrity. Fortunately, there are many easy-to-implement methods that industries can take advantage of in order to fight back against cybercrimes.
- Antivirus and antimalware protection should be installed on all computers housing sensitive data.
- Data should also be encrypted, especially if it is of a sensitive nature such as personal data, passwords, and financial information.
- Employees should be required to regularly change passwords on their workstations.
- Businesses should teach employees best practices for cybersecurity and be required to adhere to cybersecurity rules and regulations. These should include: not opening attachments from unfamiliar senders, locking workstations while away from desks, not sharing passwords, limiting employee access to sensitive financial and business data, and maintaining a complex password policy.
- Wi-Fi networks for businesses should also always be secured with a strong password. Wi-Fi network security is a simple preventive measure, yet most of the data breaches happen over Wi-Fi, as an unsecured network is easily exploited by malicious hackers.
- Insurance should be in place as a preventive measure to help get a business back on its feet in the event of a cyberattack.
- Businesses should do routine audits on credit card usage and limit the number of employees who have purchasing power on behalf of the business.
- A single computer should be dedicated to the company’s banking activities. This limits the potential points of entry and the amount of other risk-increasing online activities performed on that computer.
- Conduct background checks on all employees to help ensure that they are trustworthy and engaged in the business on good faith.
The frequency of cybercrimes is continually increasing as companies begin to move their businesses online and rely on the internet as their point of sale. Although some industries are at greater risk of cyberattacks than others, businesses in just about any industry have the potential to be targets, no matter how large or small. Prevention upfront, before a breach occurs is critical to help preserve integrity and prevent significant public, legal, and financial implications.
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