Cyber Security – A Costly Threat to Business

 

  In today’s business world, companies of all sizes are constantly having to protect and monitor all forms of technology such as computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets making sure that company information is secured at work, home and on the go. In a climate of persistent threats, protecting your cyber space is no longer a requirement but a necessity. In 2010, Canada ranked 6th as the world’s most common target for cyber related crimes and cyber security threats. Canada has also experienced a 53% increase in hacking related crimes in the past year alone. A recent report conducted by the Canadian Association of Police Boards of close to 600 businesses provided some very alarming figures.

  • 49% of respondents have been a victim of cyber crime (cyber crimes include computer viruses, banking and personal information being lost or stolen through the Internet, businesses being hacked and held for ransom, identity theft and interference with critical infrastructure such as power grids, water systems or telephone services).
  • 70% of victims of cyber crime have not reported the crime as they were unsure who to report to or did not think any justice would occur.
  • 86% of respondents indicate that cyber crime has become a concern.
  • 95% of respondents believe they are being targeted for cyber crime (most respondents believe the greatest threats are identity theft, financial fraud and computer viruses).

 

Cyber security can be defined as follows:

Securing vital and confidential information such as banking information, client data, and passwords from various forms of online attacks such as hacking, virus and spyware.

The larger the business, the more complex cyber protection can become especially for businesses collecting payments via credit cards online. As millions of dollars’ worth of transactions are conducted on the World Wide Web daily, there is a growing need to impose effective protection and measures to counter and repel cyber related crimes. Businesses must continuously update their software and internal procedures since new threats are being introduced on a daily basis. A news story posted in a local Vancouver paper advised that the police authorities were looking for information on individuals that were embedding technology into Point of Sale Terminals that records credit card information and then transfers the data to purchase products/services online. When the owner of the credit card received their bill, they noticed the merchant where they purchased their product had put through thousands of dollars. The business owner is contacted about these purchases and has no idea what has happened and thus has to spend time looking into the matter that can take days while potentially getting a bad rap from customers and having services suspended by the credit card company. Ultimately this ends up costing thousands of dollars to the business owners in lost time and potential future revenues.

One way of possibly recovering these costs is having a sound insurance policy in place.There is now an abundant of business insurance policies that offer coverage for cyber security related claims. However, one must carefully seek out this coverage. An example of a traditional Commercial General Liability policy clearly indicates what is NOT covered.

(h) any loss of computer hardware or software data including servicing, programming or reprogramming, data entry or data processing, virus, hacking, consulting, advisory or related services are specifically excluded

(g) Any services meant to address any Electronic data issues.

Policies can now be obtained that removes this exclusion while building in specific coverages related to the industry sector. This added protection can provide business owners with the security of knowing that proper coverage is in place to cover their exposures on a nationwide or worldwide basis.

In addition, a few easy steps can also assist in protecting and saving vital information

Emails:

When in doubt – DELETE

If you are unaware of the source, stay clear including unusual hyperlinks and/or urgent messages

Passwords:

Passwords should be changed on average every 3 months depending on the size of the company and type of industry. For those that constantly travel with laptops/tablets, it may not be a good idea to keep passwords on file or in memory for various social media and banking sites

Logging off from the Internet:

Shutting down the internet during lunch and after work greatly reduces the possibility of an outside source accessing your computer.

Data back-up:

It is an absolute MUST to back up data. There are many ways to back up sensitive data including USB sticks, external hard drives & cloud computing to name a few. Information that has not been backed up could end up costing thousands of dollars to retrieve it.

Anti Virus software & Firewalls:

These two methods can restrict harmful data from entering your computer. Most small business owners firmly believe that extra firewall and antivirus software is not required. All it takes is one individual to click on an unknown email or link allowing a virus or hacker to enter.

Emergency Situations:

Small business owners should have a plan in place in case of a computer related emergency or threat. You or your employee(s) should know what to do in case of a breach. It is a good idea to have contact numbers handy of the following:

  • Internet Service Provider
  • Company/person handling your computer services
  • Banking institutions online support

By following a few simple rules and educating ourselves on how to use the internet in a secure and safe manner at work, home and public spaces will go a long way in protecting our technology, networks, sensitive and confidential information.
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