2019 – The year of cyber-attacks: The formula to fight cybersecurity breaches

Simon Kelf, BCN | Data Economy Simon Kelf, BCN co-founder

Cybersecurity was one of the biggest threats that businesses faced in 2019. The number of UK firms reporting a cyber-attack is ever-increasing, particularly those of an SME size. According to a report published by the BBC, more than half of British firms reported cyberattacks in 2019, up 40% from 2018.

SonicWall’s Cyber Threat Report 2019 revealed that a staggering 7.2 billion malware attacks were launched in the first three quarters of 2019 as well as 151.9 million ransomware attacks.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of this persistent threat and know how to overcome it. We take you through what cyber-attacks are, the main types used by cybercriminals, and give you the formula for winning the battle.  

What is a Cyber-attack?

 “An attempt by hackers to obtain personal data for financial gain, or to damage or destroy a computer network or system.”

There are four main types;

1.           Phishing: Fraudulent emails sent by hackers masquerading as reputable companies or work colleagues, in order to obtain personal data such as passwords or credit card details.

2.           DoS attacks: denial of service attacks are used by hackers to shut down a machine or network, making it inaccessible to its intended users. They do this by flooding the target with huge volumes of traffic or information to overwhelm the system and render it unusable. 

3.           Personal devices: employees often bring their own devices (laptops, smartphones, flash drives) to work. Home security software might not detect a virus-like malware, which is then transferred into your system.

4.           Insider threats: Employees are often the biggest threat to an organisation’s cybersecurity. To mitigate this risk, regularly train staff and make them aware of the latest threats.

IT Management Today

Whilst cyber-attacks are not new, they are becoming more complex and more targeted. The most vulnerable are those who think they are not a target, such as smaller organisations.

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In reality, SMEs are the perfect victim of hackers. 

They don’t expect it as much as a larger organisation and often do not have a cyber protection policy in place. This is why security should be top of the agenda for all business owners, regardless of the size of the organisation.

As the role of the IT manager continues to evolve, they are forever being challenged. It is no longer working within a single department, but a role that introduces digital transformation and training across the entire business.

The Formula to fight cybersecurity breaches in 2020

Hackers have a multitude of resources and tools at their disposal but by being prepared, layering the right technologies and training employees, you can protect your business.

Part 1 – Software

Without the correct software, you are making it easy for cybercriminals. Implementing the right technology is your first line of defence.

Start with a firewall. A firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic.

The firewall acts as a barrier and can monitor, detect, report and investigate a breach on your network. If it is more than two years old then it might not be fully up to date, this increases the risk that some threats may pass into your system.

Most security attacks originate from email. Protect your business from email born attacks such as phishing, malware and malicious content with email security software.

Adding in security measures such as subject line warning alerts will make external messages easily identifiable. Combined with effective anti-virus software, they will protect your network from threats such as viruses, rootkits, worms and spyware.

In a world of flexible working, the cloud is a welcome solution to enable people to work from any location, on any device.

However, as a minimum, do not compromise security, devices used must have extra security measures installed such as multi-factor authentication, mobile device security and anti-virus software.


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Lastly, a correct data backup and a data loss prevention strategy will help to stop the threat of data breaches. This will protect and track your company’s data to prevent malicious or accidental loss.

Part 2 – Insider Threats

Security software is designed to be inherently safe, however, that is only half the battle, human error is the cause of 1 in 5 breaches according to specialist security trainers, KnowBe4.

The ‘insider threat’ is one that most businesses may not be aware of. Lost devices, mislaid documents, ignored security software updates, unlocked documents and clicking on or opening phishing emails can cause major security breaches. 

Cybersecurity is much more than software alone, businesses need to ensure they are putting in place the right policies, procedures and training for employees to follow. One without the other is essentially ineffective.

To really improve your cybersecurity, you need to ensure your employees are aware of and stick to your security policies. Regular training of staff to make them aware of the latest threats and what to do in the event of security breach will mitigate your risk and reduce the potential damage caused.

Correct Software + People Management = Anti-Threat Formula. Business needs both of these to protect the company and network security.

This approach will ensure your defence technology solution is concrete, up to date, multi-layered and reviewed regularly, whilst minimising the opportunity for employee breaches by making them security-aware.

Finally, work with a managed IT partner. They can provide the technology, training, workshops and ongoing advice you need to create a robust framework that protects employees and your business.

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