Cyber Threat Awareness: The New Safety Training

March 29, 2016

Ask anyone in your IT department about cyber-crime, and they understand the threats. But how many people outside of your IT department really understand the severity of today’s evolving cyber-crimes? The truth is, too many organizations are still woefully unprepared for these threats. Many senior executives are unaware of the scale of the problem, while others are overwhelmed by the threat and don’t know what their response should be. Then there are countless employees connected to the Internet, using mobile devices, dealing with sensitive company and customer data, and handling transactions with suppliers. Most are unaware of how vulnerable they might be or how their actions could put the company at risk.

When it comes to cyber threats, a lack of understanding is one of your biggest risks.

The fact is, cyber-crime has become a threat too big to ignore, costing the global economy an estimated $445 billion every year. While we’ve witnessed major attacks on huge corporations, the healthcare industry, and the federal government in recent years, cyber-attacks on small and midsized businesses have skyrocketed. Those organizations are usually an easier target due to more lax security measures, which can often be traced back to a lack of understanding about the threats.

Cyber threat awareness: the new safety training

Company-wide safety training has long been standard operating procedure in most organizations. Perhaps the time has come to give security awareness training the same status. To help raise your company’s cyber threat awareness IQ, here are a few realities everyone in your organization should be made fully aware of:

  • Today’s cyber criminals are sophisticated and organized. Technology continues to evolve and cyber criminals are constantly developing more sophisticated tools and methods. On top of that, groups of criminals with varying skills actually collaborate to combine a wide variety of intelligence and attack methods. There are even cyber-criminal services that can be hired by criminals with no cyber expertise to carry out cyber-crimes for them.
  • Cyber criminals are always “phishing” for vulnerabilities. Whether it’s an unsecured device on a company network, an unsuspecting employee opening a cleverly disguised phishing email, or other approach, the bad guys will exploit any weakness to gain access to an organization’s system and steal data. Cyber criminals are also increasingly posing as company officials via email and tricking employees into sending payments, or targeting businesses with ransomware, malware that locks up crucial data or websites so a ransom can be demanded.
  • Yes, you have sensitive data. Cyber thieves target businesses of all sizes looking for data such as intellectual property and databases of personal information about employees, partners, suppliers, and customers, which can then be used for identity theft and fraud. In the end, it’s all about the money.
  • The bigger your supply chain, the bigger your risks. Businesses can have dozens, hundreds, even thousands of suppliers, and any one of those connections could be vulnerable, allowing a cyber thief to gain access and put every business in the supply chain at risk. It can be the ultimate payday for a cyber-criminal.

Make protection a priority

Cyber security starts with making it part of your company culture – think of it as just one more aspect of a safe workplace. Raise your company’s cyber threat awareness IQ by educating everyone in your organization on the growing threats and how to guard against them. Resources such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Internet Security Essentials for Business 2.0 can help.

Protecting your organization also means having the right financial protection “just in case.” Contact the business insurance experts at Heffernan about a cyber liability insurance policy that can protect your business from today’s growing threats.