Data has become one of the most valuable assets any person or business has. Studies have examined the value of user data based on the valuation of a company. For example, in 2016, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for an estimated US$26.2 billion. LinkedIn reportedly had 400 million users, placing the value of a single user data point at about US$65 per user.
In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for an estimated US$19.6 billion. The messaging platform had 500 million users, placing the valuation for each user at US$39.6.
While these big businesses recognized the value of acquiring personal user data, the value has since increased as these tech companies have further refined and segmented user data to make it even more valuable to buyers.
However, the data that many corporations and businesses possess are more valuable than data points. Sensitive data, that if it leaks or is stolen by malicious actors, can cause immeasurable damage to a business. Global ransomware damage has been estimated to cost US$20 billion in 2021. This is why businesses need strict security protocols to protect company networks. Firewalls, password protections, staff training, ethical hacking, and other cybersecurity measures need to be implemented to protect businesses as more people are working online, and from home from potentially insecure networks or devices.
Firewalls remain a good first line of defense against cyber threats. Firewalls have filtering capabilities that control what traffic is allowed to pass and what could be deemed as malicious. Firewalls are a cost-effective and secure defense, but often they are not implemented correctly, updated, or monitored, and thus they become ineffective.
Cybersecurity in 2022
Cybersecurity threats will continue and become more sophisticated. Security experts predict that certain cybersecurity threats will become more commonly used by nefarious actors. These threats are known, as are the preventive methods to avert these attacks. Let’s take a look at the most common cybersecurity threats predicted to affect businesses’ online operations in the coming year.
Phishing activities are the most common cyberattacks mounted on US companies accounting for 38 percent of cyber attacks in 2020.
Phishing has become more targeted with users’ data making it possible to personalize and geo-target victims.
Many people online will fall for emails that request a user to update a password. When they do, it is on a fake page where unwitting victims enter their details. Phishing attacks often get through email security filters.
The best way to combat these attacks is to educate team members about security. Emails asking for people to update passwords are never sent unsolicited. Your team members should be updating their passwords regularly, and they should be an unrecognizable combination of letters in upper and lower case and numbers.
Network security flaws
As companies rushed to connect their workers from home, many neglected to ensure their cybersecurity was strong enough to handle the fast changes. IT teams were often ill-prepared and hackers seized the many opportunities to infiltrate companies to steal data.
Even software like Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol, VNC, TeamViewer, and Netop were found to have weaknesses that could be exploited by malicious actors.
While teams have worked to improve cybersecurity for remote workers, there are things that workers can do to improve the security of their devices. Teams should only be accessing sensitive data from computers, not phones, and they should be updating apps and software as directed to ensure that the latest versions are in use. These updates include patches for vulnerabilities, so it is crucial that teams take the time to perform updates and keep systems up to date.
Vulnerabilities in the cloud
Accessing data from the cloud has become a normal part of life. Cloud services are commonplace and many businesses use SaaS solutions, social media, cloud storage, and other cloud solutions for everyday document sharing.
However, cloud solutions are not totally secure. Some have vulnerabilities in their authentication protocols or poor data encryption. Such vulnerabilities expose a company to the threat of attack by hackers. These vulnerabilities are often caused by incorrect configurations, vulnerabilities within the network, or data leaks.
Updating systems with 2-factor authentication, consistent password updates, and system updates make your cloud more secure.
Ransomware is one of the easiest forms of attack to prevent, and one that too often threatens businesses and individuals. Downloading unsafe apps, accessing fake websites, or taking advantage of network vulnerabilities can give hackers access to company data, which hackers then use to ransom the company. Attackers lock a company out of their data and only allow the company access after they have paid the ransom asked.
Real-time threat protection, web application firewall, and strong encryption can help prevent ransomware attacks. One of the best ways to prevent such attacks is to educate workers on the elements to look for in an email, website, or link that could expose a system to an attack.
Cybersecurity threats will always exist. A report published by PBS showed that between 2019 and 2020, the number of ransomware attacks worldwide rose by 62 percent. This is predicted to increase as company data becomes more valuable and as businesses scramble to keep ahead of attack types.
One of the best ways for companies to protect themselves is through IT support and worker education. If IT teams are given the support to keep systems upgraded and protected, attacks are less likely or can be detected early and prevented or diminished. Teams need to be reminded on a regular basis to change passwords, update systems and be diligent about cybersecurity.
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