With phishing, ransomware and other cyberattacks on the rise in South Africa, appropriately budgeting for cybersecurity is a must, as the benefits of having strong measures in place far outweigh the assumed expense of digital security, says Steve Flynn, Sales and Marketing Director at ESET Southern Africa.
With a shortage of experienced cybersecurity personnel in South Africa and across the globe, cybercriminals have an advantage with access to significant skills and resources – and determination and persistence to match. Businesses often spend as little as possible on cybersecurity. SMEs often mistakenly believe that they don’t require paid cybersecurity as their business isn’t an attractive target for cybercrime. However, if the average consumer or end-user is vulnerable to cyberattacks, the stakes are much higher for businesses. According to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), about 60% of SMEs go out of business within six months of a data breach or cyber-attack.
This means IT security should be viewed as an essential cost rather than a grudge purchase, as there is an inherent risk in modern offices where employees are susceptible to gaps in password management, phishing attacks through opening malicious attachments, and other scams. Ransomware is another growing concern to which no business is immune. This is where hackers encrypt a victim’s files and demand a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. More companies are now moving their data and applications to the cloud, which is critical to secure for business continuity.
As the new financial year gets underway, it’s important that organisations, irrespective of size, have a clear security plan, understand their business vulnerabilities, and plan their budget work from there. Having solid cybersecurity measures will empower organisations to protect their data and their customers. By implementing leading digital security measures, companies can reduce their risk and protect their bottom line.
Digital security can enable businesses to not only protect and maintain their everyday operations, but grow their market share as a reputable organisation. Even home-based entrepreneurs and SMEs can start the new financial year the right way with these top security tips:
- Use strong and unique passwords: Use different passwords for each account. Use a password manager application if it helps you to keep track of all your passwords.
- Keep software and systems updated: Regularly update your operating system, web browsers, and any other software you use to ensure that you have the latest security patches and features.
- Be cautious about sharing personal information online: Be careful about what personal information you share on social media or other websites, and only share information that is necessary.
- Protect your business: Install and regularly update anti-virus software to protect your devices from malware and other types of malicious software. ESET PROTECT, for example, offers complete, multi-layered protection for endpoints, cloud applications as well as email.
- Be careful when clicking on links: Be cautious when clicking on links in emails or text messages, as they may lead to phishing websites or other types of malicious content.
- Use two-factor authentication: Use two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
- Use a VPN: Use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to the internet to encrypt your online communications and help protect your personal information.
- Backup your data: Make sure to regularly backup your important files to a separate device or service to ensure that you don’t lose them in case of a cyberattack.