Cybercriminals are stealing customers’ Social Security Numbers from large companies. Shameless hackers are plucking business secrets from the cloud.

As if that’s not enough, the thieves go ahead and compromise passwords so they can grab personal data from the accounts of social media users. Whether you’re the CEO of a big corporation or are a sole online entrepreneur, you never know when your site receives a blow.

Are you still asking, “ Why is cybersecurity important ?” Before we answer this question, you need to know what cybersecurity means.

What is cybersecurity?

Ideally, cybersecurity is a combination of practices and technologies that maintain the safety of electronic data and computerised systems.

A few years ago, only tech-savvy individuals and companies were worried about cybersecurity. Now, corporate leaders are giving it the highest priority in their IT departments.

If you naively think that anti-viruses, firewalls, and encryption mechanisms suffice to secure sensitive information stored in the cloud and your devices, you are very wrong. You could be so busy focusing on making money while a hacker is digging into your system to loot valuable information. As such, you cannot ignore cybersecurity.

Unless you never use the internet, you should know that data breaches and hacks affect all types of companies. The alarm caused by these damages is understandable, as it is a rampant issue in this interconnected world.

The attacks can arise from any corner as long as you have a computer or electronic data. Many times, these unfortunate occurrences make headlines, causing reputation damage that could go beyond repair to the affected companies.

Everyone should be worried about cybersecurity in this technological era in which the world has become a global village. If hackers were able to hit Equifax, imagine what they would do to a small company. Any site can be hacked any time and lose information in a matter of minutes.

You should, therefore, consider the risk involved all the time. That is why you need an effective solution to safeguard your system from potential exterior forces. These forces are especially rampant due to the increasing number of devices being used today. Most people log in to their online accounts with both computers and smartphones, making the risks even more complicated.

By adopting cybersecurity, you reduce the fears of working in this technologically advanced age.

Technological changes at a glance

Do you need more conviction?  We are living in a more advanced world than we were a decade ago. Take, for instance, the iPad that was invented in 2010. Broadband speeds have been increasing rapidly in the last ten years, allowing individuals and companies to carry out more activities online.

This revolution has further accelerated cloud services. Today, almost everyone prefers to share documents online via email, which is readily available from any smart device. Enterprises are increasingly deploying business-oriented apps in the cloud and these are some of the features that cybercriminals are targeting.

The fact that cyber-crime penetrates every aspect of life explains why cybersecurity is paramount.

Shocking statistics on cyber-crime

The rise of online crimes is preeminent. McAfee recently estimated the cost of cyber-crime at $400 billion and more. Only two years ago, the cost stood at around $250 billion, with UK companies being the most affected. Did you know that Equifax lost 147 million clients due to a data breach? The cost was estimated at $439M.

In the UK, the National Health Service was attacked by ransomware that pulled the organization behind with clean-up costs and cancelled operations. Even private internet giant Yahoo! suffered a hack that ran to about $350M. To fend off the cyber-crime, corporations are forced to heavily invest in digital security protocols, but many are still overloaded by the expenses. Now, do you see why cybersecurity makes sense?

The increasing costs of data breaches

You would be mistaken to think that your online business is immune. The truth is, the cost of cyber attacks is expensive to endure.

According to a recent report, the average cost of repairing breached data in a big firm is $25,963. But the real damage of an attack is underestimated by this figure since a data breach can cause reputational damage besides a financial loss. Customers can easily lose interest in a company whose online platform has been rendered vulnerable.

Even worse, the affected company would find it hard to win new clients or contracts.

The sheer number of cyber-crimes is hard to fathom. The expenses they leave behind are strong rationales for implementing security measures. Did you know that the estimated cost of cybercrime across the globe is $600 billion per year? The number is expected to hit $6 trillion by the year 2021.

The percentage of firms that had their systems hacked last year was 54%. If your company is yet to experience an attack, you might be the next target given that more than half of the firms were attacked.

A loss of $50,000 would take a heavy toll on a small company, and anything beyond this would be hard to recover, meaning that they would shut down temporarily or even permanently.

Evolving threats

As explained above, we are expecting a huge number of cyber-crimes for years to come. The risks involved range from loss of money, productivity, intellectual property, and personal information in order to fund embezzlement, post-attack losses, the reinvention of hacked systems, restoration costs, etc.

What most people forget is that mobile devices have become the newest targets. It is hard to predict the next tactics that cybercriminals are planning. As you try to curb these threats, always keep in mind that the security of your company is not a duty of the IT department alone.

It is the responsibility of every stakeholder to fight the spear phishing attacks. Staying alert means detecting the threats even before they cause disruptions.

What do cybersecurity professionals do?

There are many ways cybersecurity personnel can help your company. If you run a small to medium size venture, one professional can handle your data. You may consider hiring an IT consultant if you need a wide array or targeted services.

For a big organisation, a department committed to online data protection would be the ideal solution to fighting threats. Different companies define information safety in different ways.

Nonetheless, cybersecurity professionals are hired to perform specific tasks. Their duties include threat examination, and information gathering from cloud services, employee’s devices, and servers. A cybersecurity analyst checks the significance of every data in your system and figures out what might be a weak point.

If anything raises eyebrows, the analyst has to find out where it’s coming from. It could be a violation of data policy or a security breach. In conjunction with the interior IT professionals, the cybersecurity professional ensures that the system is secured. This involves both the technical knowledge and people-oriented efforts.

Remember that data breaches are not all about hacking. They could also be a stolen office device, passwords on sticky notes left in a cubicle, or a client list sent via encrypted message.

What does it mean to have a secure network? It means having strong passwords, using two-factor authentication, using the latest software, and ensuring the safety of the company’s database system.

What are the qualifications of cybersecurity professionals?

If you are considering getting a cybersecurity analyst, there are a few credentials you should look for. But the biggest question is how to be sure that whoever you’ll hire is fit for the job.

The minimum qualification for the specialist is a bachelor’s degree (IT, programming, information assurance, or computer science). In special situations, you might want an MBA holder in information systems.

You might also need someone with related work experience and make sure that there’s proof of that. If you want to keep your database system secure, look for a database administrator who is also adept in curbing security threats.

Apart from educational qualification and work experience check out if the candidate has a relevant, up-to-date certifications.

What tools do cyber thieves use?

An experienced hacker is a big threat to your online business. Even a less skilled individual can also be dangerous due to the wide accessibility of hacking tools and techniques. Hacking programmes are on the internet and anyone can get resources such as crypto mining, phishing, malware, and ransomware to launch data breaches.

Sometimes, cybercriminals use malicious mobile apps to put internet user’s privacy at risk. This tells you that not any programme or app is legit even from the Google Play Store. Always seek permission from your security system before downloading stuff. The proliferation of Internet Of Things presents a big issue, so you have to manage your device properly.

The good news is that there are methods you can use to stay safe from these attacks. When a hacker sends phishing emails, check for grammatical errors in the email address. Often, the hackers use names resembling those of well-known organisations to steal information. For instance, they can use gmall.com instead of gmail.com to confuse you. Think carefully before clicking on their links.

The other thing you should never do is connect to an insecure network. Hackers usually flood insecure networks to steal passwords and files from bank accounts and social media. They even inject malware on legitimate websites.

Consider using a VPN to prevent spammers from intercepting your information.

Backup and recovery

Every 40 seconds a company is attacked by ransomware. While more elements continue to flock the internet, the statistics of cybercrimes will leave people more shocked.

But you don’t need to pay a ransom if your disaster management and recovery mechanisms are effective. Sure, a cyber attack is a huge disruption but with a backup plan, you will not be required to pay the hacker a dime.

Recovering from a cyber attack is possible. Otherwise, almost half of the companies across the board would pay ransoms to hackers every year. A reliable backup covers all types of breaches and makes it easier to recover any stolen information.

It would be unrealistic to expect your IT department to mitigate all the online risks that everybody in the company faces. This is because most security threats emanate from web browsers, web browser exploits, user error, and social engineering. The technical team can only do so much to protect your system. Cybersecurity is thus the responsibility of everyone. A lot of incidences have resulted from employees who ignore mainstream advice that relates to clicking on malicious links and password use. Hackers are always on the lookout for low hanging fruits, so you should not let your workers be the weak points. Teach them about the security of your system.

How much does the government care about cybersecurity?

Almost every company runs a website that could be the entry point for criminals into the internal networks. With the highly complex internet risks now commonplace, the government needs to act fast to protect citizens against this malicious activity.

Far from the rising cases of cyber-crimes, the severity of attacks is alarming. In a report carried out by PwC, the issues are progressively destructive, targeting a wide range of database.

Even politicians are at risk. Hillary Clinton became a victim when her private emails featured in the newspapers during her presidential campaign. Since then, Donald Trump authorized a defence policy to address cyber threats. In fact, his Homeland Security chief has declared cybersecurity one of the biggest US threats.

Moving beyond the typical protection

Antivirus software is a fundamental aspect of IT security, but not sufficient. Your technical teams require more tools and techniques, just the way hackers are using a variety of methods to penetrate computer networks.

Some of the most effective protection mechanisms don’t come cheap. But they are certainly not as costly as cleaning up the mess of a cybercrime. Have you considered getting cybersecurity insurance? This is a concept that is worth investing in.

Cybersecurity insurance safeguards a company against financial risks and beyond. If your site is hacked, you have to contain so much damage. You might want to hire damage limitation experts who will be paid by the cybersecurity insurance policy.

Do you take the flow of information seriously in your company? What if one of your staff compromises the data of the company? It would still be a data breach if they use an unprotected device on a public network or if someone breaks into their car and steals a company tablet. That is why you need to examine carefully the significance of cybersecurity and how your company data is stored, processed, and shared.

Think about imposing strict guidelines for your employees regarding the flow of information to their devices. That way, it would be easier to remove the weak spots that potentially expose data or lead to a breach.

Looking ahead

From a recent survey by PwC, it has been found that 87% of CEOs across the board insist on cybersecurity to increase the trust that customers have on their companies. In the survey, 66.7% of the respondents had already hired a chief online security professional.

According to the report, it means that companies no longer second guess things, as far as cybersecurity is concerned. Leaders have started to recognize that this is an IT aspect worth investing in. As such, they are taking every possible preventative measure against security threats.

You don’t want to be left behind in this movement. So, the next time you hear someone asking how important cybersecurity is, be the first to explain the benefits.

Sure, the needs for cybersecurity are increasing, yet there are limited funds. But this is a feature of the cybersecurity sector. It is for this matter that government departments, organizations, and private companies will continue allocating funds accordingly to cater to the burgeoning requirements.

On the other hand, cybersecurity professionals are thinking big and strategically. They are in high demand as many industries with sensitive data are reaching out to them. Things like bank accounts and medical records should not be taken lightly. That is why they must be managed by people who are competitive, curious and well updated with the ever-changing technology. We expect more people to delve into this field of work.

Bottom line

Cybersecurity is heralded as a technology that is future-proof for IT security. Microsoft insists on the importance of this technology in staying ahead of online threats.

The automation of cybersecurity helps companies to detect attacks before they spread thereby saving the IT department a lot of trouble. This means a company can focus on the most important tasks.

Nonetheless, note that there is no one-size-fits-all method for online security. Like any other innovation, cybersecurity is not an unalloyed commodity. It is a complex landscape that requires high expertise to manage.