We probably don’t have to tell you twice. You already know by the fact that you once mentioned wanting to take up tennis, and your Instagram feed is now full of racquet adverts. We’ll say it anyway; one of the most highly valued commodities today is personal information. But with so much out there and available online, our data has become the target of organised crime, as well as hackers that attempt to harvest massive amounts of the stuff to the highest bidder on the dark web. Dystopian, sure, but also avoidable.

Last year, almost 70% of small businesses suffered a cyber attack, showing that hackers and data thieves have begun to move away from targeting large corporations, instead attacking the databases of businesses that might not have the same level of security and protection that larger companies can afford. Don’t be one of those guys. Think bigger. But first, read on; our IDEAL guide to protecting company data in 2019.

THE DAMAGE DONE BY DATA THEFT

Many of the world’s largest corporations, such as Sony and Microsoft, have suffered attacks that gave hackers access to customer payment information as well as the content of personal emails. These high-profile data breaches cost the companies consumer confidence and trust, and a major overhaul of their security systems quickly followed. We all read about it in the news, but for every well-publicized occasion that a major company has been attacked, there are dozens of less well-known online attacks to smaller businesses and online services. There may be fewer customer records to steal, but the data is just as valuable to fraudsters online. 

A DIVERSE RANGE OF ONLINE THREATS

Online attacks come in many forms, and hackers continue to develop and evolve their methods to try and breach the latest security software and stay one step ahead of both the police and anti-hacking software. One of the most popular methods used is ‘phishing’. Here, hackers use emails posing as a company to convince businesses to grant access to data or reveal valuable personal information.

This email will typically include a link to a website that greatly resembles the login page for the business, along with a believable contact address and even tone of voice. When the customer or employee logs in the hackers also gain access to a company’s system and its databases. This can quickly spiral into something very serious indeed.

SO HOW CAN A BUSINESS PROTECT ITSELF?

Some of the world’s most well-known and highly regarded cybersecurity companies have security solutions to suit a business of any size. Businesses big and small have a duty to protect their customers’ data and protecting their business from online threats is becoming a bigger concern for companies of all sizes, not just large corporations.

There is an endpoint security solution available at mcafee.com that gives business owners and their system administrators in-depth reports on the security of their network. This can protect organizations across a wide variety of devices, including when they are using a cloud service. There are more online avenues than ever for hackers to attack businesses large and small, and cloud services are the latest in a growing list of online conveniences that give data thieves an opportunity to steal consumer information.

It’s estimated that a company is attacked online every 40 seconds. This frightening statistic underlines how important it is for businesses and consumers to protect themselves from online threats and think twice before clicking a link in unsolicited and odd-looking emails. The information stored on databases is more valuable than many people think and needs to be protected by specialized software that is regularly updated with the latest solutions to online threats.