In the fast-paced digital world of today and the increase of online services, cyber security has become a critical focus due to the rising threat of online attacks and data breaches. In fact — Check Point Software's 2023 report found global cyberattacks increased by 38% in 2022 compared to 2021.
However, despite the growing risks, GOV.UK's 2023 Cyber security breaches survey found that only 68% of small businesses named cyber security as a high priority in 2023, falling from 80% in 2022. This may be because they’re more focused on other economic worries like inflation — the consumer prices index (CPI) increased by 7.9% from June 2022 to June 2023, according to The Office for National Statistics.
To shed light on the importance of cyber security, we'll take a deep dive into what cyber security is and the dangers of cyber attacks for businesses. We'll also share valuable tips on preventing online threats, ensuring a more secure digital environment.
What is cyber security?
Cyber security is all about protecting computer systems, networks, and data from unauthorised access, cyber threats, and potential attacks.
By using various tools and techniques, cyber security keeps your business’s sensitive information safe and ensures that only authorised people can access the data.
The dangers of cyber attacks on businesses
Cybercriminals are always coming up with new ways to take advantage of weaknesses in a company's digital systems. The consequences of these attacks can be devastating, impacting businesses in various ways, including:
Financial loss — Ransomware attacks, for instance, can involve turning critical data into unreadable code and demanding hefty ransoms to decode it, crippling business operations until payment is made. And incident response and recovery can be expensive, especially for smaller businesses that lack adequate cyber security resources. In fact, according to GOV.UK's 2023 Cyber security breaches survey, in the last 12 months, the most damaging breach cost each business around £1,100 on average, regardless of their size. For medium and large businesses, this cost was around £4,960.
Reputation damage — News of a breach spreads fast, harming public perception and customer trust. And it can take years for a business to recover.
Operational disruptions — Certain cyber attacks, like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, are designed to disrupt the normal functioning of a business's digital infrastructure. These attacks overload servers and networks, causing websites and online services to become inaccessible, leading to missed opportunities to sell products and unhappy customers.
Legal consequences — Many industries, like healthcare providers and banks, have strict regulations and data protection laws that businesses must comply with. A cyber attack that causes the exposure of sensitive customer data can result in legal actions, penalties, and fines for non-compliance. And businesses may face lawsuits from affected customers, partners, or employees seeking damages for the loss of their data.
The importance of cyber security for businesses
Protects personal information
Investing in cyber security measures safeguarding sensitive data, like customer information, financial records, and proprietary data. And this not only instils confidence in your customers, but also builds trust with business partners, helping them to know that their information is in safe hands.
Protects your employees
Prioritising cyber security means you can protect your employees from unnecessary stress and worry of attack. And with a secure digital environment, they can focus on their tasks without the fear of cyber threats looming over them.
This sense of security may allow employees to work more efficiently and productively, resulting in enhanced overall performance for your business. With reduced distractions and concerns about data breaches, your team can channel their energy into driving innovation, meeting targets, and achieving great results.
Builds trust with your customers
In today's digital age, customers are becoming increasingly conscious of the significance of data protection. By demonstrating your unwavering commitment to cyber security, you not only gain trust but also foster increased customer loyalty and long-term relationships. Plus, it gives you an edge over your competitors!
For example, let's say there are two companies: Company A and Company B. Company A takes cyber security seriously, showcasing their security measures and maintaining a dedicated cybersecurity team. But, Company B lacks a clear cyber security plan and has had a previous data breach. Of course, customers are more likely to trust Company A with their personal information, giving them a competitive advantage.
Building this trust among your customers is crucial, as it assures them that their personal information is safeguarded and encourages them to engage with your business confidently.
Increases employee awareness
Investing in cyber security for your business has a positive impact on employee awareness. Through training, your employees gain a deeper understanding of how to safeguard the sensitive information they may need to handle. This heightened awareness reduces the risk of accidental data breaches, creating a more secure and reliable work environment.
Helps you stay ahead of evolving cyber threats
Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and that's why investing in up-to-date security technologies and practices is paramount. It means businesses can keep their sensitive data safe and be well-prepared to tackle any new cyber security challenges that come their way.
Helps preserve business reputation
Just one data breach can seriously damage your company's reputation. That's why investing in cyber security to protect your data is so important; it helps you maintain a positive image in the eyes of your customers and everyone else involved in your business.
Reduces the risk of financial loss
Cyberattacks can lead to costly data breaches, ransom payments, and business downtime, causing significant financial damage to a company.
Protecting sensitive data and strengthening digital defences helps avoid potential threats and ensures valuable assets and resources stay safe. This allows your business to focus on growth and success with greater peace of mind.
Ensures you comply with regulations
Many industries, like healthcare and finance, have strict data protection rules and requirements that businesses must follow. By putting strong cyber security measures in place, your business can meet these regulations and steer clear of possible legal troubles.
How to prevent a cyber attack
Educate on safe data
Training your employees on cyber security is a fundamental step in building a strong defence against cyber attacks. By investing in cyber security training, you create a culture where everyone is aware of potential threats and knows how to recognise the signs, like phishing emails, suspicious websites, and unauthorised access.
It encourages employees to be more cautious about the links they click, reducing the likelihood of falling victim to common cyber scams. And if they do encounter a potential threat, they're more likely to report it promptly to the IT or cyber security team, ensuring a quick response to mitigate the risk.
Have an incident response plan in place
When a cyber-attack strikes, you don't want to waste time trying to figure out what to do. That's where a well-defined plan comes in. With everyone knowing their roles, you can respond quickly and effectively, minimising the damage.
Cyber attacks can come in many forms, so the plan should cover different scenarios, like data breaches or ransomware attacks. It should focus on detecting and controlling the threat, ensuring your team are prepared for any situation that arises.
Just remember to regularly update and test the plan to keep up with new threats. Practising with drills helps your team stay sharp and be better prepared for real-world situations.
Regularly update your software
Cybercriminals often target known vulnerabilities in outdated software. By regularly updating and patching your systems, you can close these security gaps and reduce the risk of successful cyber attacks. This simple practice goes a long way in protecting your organisation's – and customers’ – valuable data.
Renew antivirus software
Antivirus software is a simple and easy tool for any business, providing essential protection against viruses, ransomware, and spyware.
Check that your licence is still active and, more importantly, reach out to your employees to ensure their personal devices are protected.
Consider investing in extra antivirus subscriptions to cover any mobile phones, laptops, tablets, or computers where work is conducted. This is especially important for remote workers, where device browsing and usage are typically not monitored.
Recruit cyber security staff
Hiring cyber security experts is a smart move. These experts bring specialised knowledge and skills that are essential in safeguarding your business from cyber threats. They can conduct thorough security assessments, penetration tests, and risk analyses to uncover potential weaknesses in your systems before cyber criminals do.
They'll also be well-informed about the latest security technologies and best practices. They can put in place strong security measures like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption protocols to strengthen your digital defences.
Choose Forward Role for your cyber security hiring needs
At Forward Role, we can help your business find the best talent in cyber security with our FR Cyber arm. With our extensive network and industry expertise, we have access to a pool of highly skilled professionals. And our team of recruiters understands the unique requirements of the cyber security field, helping you find the perfect fit for your business.
If you’re looking for a job in cyber security, we can also help. Whether you are an experienced professional searching for your next challenge or a recent graduate starting your career, Forward Role can connect you with exciting opportunities in the cyber security industry.
Check out our latest cyber jobs today, learn how to write a cyber security CV or prepare for your next opportunity with our guide on how to prepare for a job interview. You can also read our Job Seeker FAQs to learn more about how Forward Role can help you secure your next role.