Three months into 2023, companies need to think about what to prioritize and invest in over the coming months. These days, investing in cybersecurity may be the best option for any company, regardless of size.
Every year, more and more companies are being victimized by the actions of cybercriminals. According to a report published by Click Point Research, the global rate of cyber attacks increased by 38% in 2022 compared to 2021 figures.
Which industries were targeted the most?
2022 was particularly fruitful for cybercriminals, as many people had to use modern technology to perform their everyday tasks. According to CPR, the education and research sector was targeted the most. This is because even two years after COVID-19 spread, many institutions were still unprepared to operate securely online.
This allowed hackers to infiltrate school and university networks and use popular collaboration tools (such as MS Teams) to launch attacks. Schools had a particularly tough time, not only having to switch to e-learning but also dealing with children and teenagers who, due to lack of knowledge, sometimes compromised their own security.
The U.S. healthcare industry has suffered greatly from the activities of cybercriminals. Hackers targeted institutions that could offer them a wealth of valuable personal data, and hospitals working with health insurance information and thousands of social security numbers were ideally suited.
Modern technology and cybercrime
Experts worry that the rise of modern technologies such as AI and machine learning could significantly affect global cybersecurity. Tools such as ChatGPT are widely available, and while they may be helpful to some, they also pose a threat.
Improving AI technology means that results generated from simple prompts will become increasingly complex and accurate. ChatGPT, a generative AI, can already generate simple program codes for anyone who is interested. While they are not perfect (yet), a knowledgeable hacker can improve them while increasing his own efficiency. That means more automation options for hackers and, as a result, the ability to launch even more attacks.
What are the most popular threats?
2022 was the year of social media and ransomware attacks. Experts say that up to 82% of breaches involve the human factor. Some of these were phishing campaigns.
Phishing is an attack that exploits people’s gullibility and needs to act. Aggressors pretend to be someone else – for example, company executives or co-workers. They often reach out to carefully vetted employees and can get their information from social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
This gives them credibility and trust, allowing them to ask for sensitive data or convince the victim to download a malicious file and compromise the company’s safety.
Ransomware attacks also increased in 2022 compared to the previous year. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files and renders them useless. Hackers deploy ransomware in companies so that they can later demand a ransom to decrypt the files. The world’s largest companies often have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their information back.
How can I protect my business?
Remember that even small companies fall prey to hackers. Although they do not operate with the biggest budgets, they are less secure than large corporations. Fortunately, if you own a business, there are ways to protect it online.
- Educate your employees. Human error is often the biggest threat. As we stated above, the vast majority of attacks start with the human factor. That’s why every company should invest in education.
It’s also a good idea to implement a VPN, especially if your employees work fully or partially remotely. A VPN creates additional encryption and protects valuable data – and that’s just one of its many benefits. If you’re unsure about it, try a 30-day free trial VPN and see its benefits.
- Back up your data. Ransomware attacks may be slightly less common than other types, but they carry the greatest consequences. If your data gets encrypted – there is no way to get it back without paying the ransom, and let’s not forget about the loss of reputation and trust among customers and clients.
Companies go bankrupt every year due to ransomware attacks. You can defend yourself but must act before something bad happens. Back up your data regularly so that you can recover your most important files after an attack.
- Invest. It can be challenging for a small company to find a budget for cybersecurity, but if you can improve it – do it. Make sure everything is up-to-date, your business has strong firewalls, and you are not using old and outdated hardware or software.