It’s estimated that cybersecurity breaches will cost approximately $6 billion in damages by 2021. In recent years, corporations like Marriott, Toyota, Equifax, Anthem, and most notably Yahoo! all suffered attacks, costing them millions and sometimes even billions of dollars. That comes to show that no one is safe when it comes to cyberattacks, nor even huge companies with colossal budgets.
This year, Cyber Security Hub surveyed executives about their top priorities, and security awareness headed the list. So, what safety measures can you and your business take in 2020? From software testing to hacking as a service, here’s what to do.
Make software testing your first line of defense
The reputation of your business depends on the products or services it sells. If they aren’t secure, that’s a huge concern. A data breach, for example, could turn away current and prospective customers forever.
The first thing you can do as a business is to employ a rigorous quality assurance (QA) process. A software QA tester or testing service will take numerous measures, including running security tests, to make sure your product is up to par before you launch it. Security testing, in particular, will help eliminate the risk of threats. While software testing can’t guarantee that absolutely no bugs or defects are present, it can dramatically reduce their occurrence.
Pro tip: Don’t just have your developers do the testing. QA testers have special expertise and experience for just this purpose, and their skills often differ from those of developers.
Use artificial intelligence (AI)
Sometimes, humans are not enough. As AI becomes more sophisticated, it will become a helpful tool for protecting businesses and their customers in 2020. In fact, there already are several cybersecurity tools that depend on AI. IBM’s QRadar Advisor, for example, performs functions like analyzing threat risks from suspicious files and IP addresses and noticing patterns and evaluating the risk they pose.
Cybercriminals are using AI in attacks as well, making malware all the more powerful and sophisticated. In this case, it’s necessary to fight fire with fire: AI must be used to prevent malware that’s been made more intelligent by the same tool.
Install a VPN
Virtual private networks (VPNs) hide your IP address when you use a public, unsecured network, lending you privacy and security. They prevent others from accessing important data and information, such as locations and browsing activities. That’s why you should invest in one of the many alternatives on the market.
In addition to installing a VPN on your company-owned equipment, you should also advise employees on using one on their private devices. They could be accessing sensitive company data via an unsecured WIFI network, opening the door for potential breaches. For example, even if they’re merely checking their email in a hotspot, they might be putting your company at risk.
Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is becoming more common, and it will prove to be an essential tool for cybersecurity in 2020. Companies that deal with particularly sensitive data, such as banking services, already employ it regularly.
The premise is fairly simple: in addition to the typical login information, they must provide something additional. For example, rather than just logging in with a username and password, a code is texted or emailed to the user, who must enter it along with their login information to access their account. In other instances, facial recognition software or other tools might be used.
Stay abreast of phishing schemes
Phishing schemes have been around for a long time, but that doesn’t mean they’re disappearing anytime soon. They can be dangerous and costly — the FBI’s 2017 Internet Crime Report estimated that people lost $30 million due to phishing schemes in a single year.
Usually via an email or text message, phishers will attempt to solicit personal information by getting you to click on a link or download an attachment that will prompt malware to be installed on your device or asking for data directly. There are many notorious phishing schemes — such as the common prince-from-a-foreign-country-needing-you-to-send-money story — that end up being costly for individuals and businesses.
In order to prevent them from impacting your company, be on the alert for phishing schemes and educate your employees about how to spot them. For example, remind them to be on the lookout for emails with misspellings or those that specifically ask you to provide personal information.
Consider hacking as a service
Like AI, hacking as a service is an example of using the same tool the cybercriminal is using to wreak havoc on your business to defend yourself against them. You can employ highly-skilled professionals to attempt to hack into your systems and find potential areas of concern, revealing vulnerabilities. Once you’re aware of the holes that need addressing, you can begin to take steps to fix them.
Technology is becoming more and more advanced every day. In many ways, this is good for society. However, these sophisticated tools are also being used for harmful purposes, detrimentally impacting people and organizations. That’s why in 2020, cybersecurity must be a top priority for every business, including yours. The steps described above will be essential to up your security game, so be sure to implement as soon as you possibly can.