Cybersecurity and the Law: Data Protection Is Your Responsibility
Cybersecurity breaches are becoming more and more common, with the news reporting on more high-profile breaches than ever before. From eBay to Sony, the past few years have seen successful attackers gain access to sensitive company and customer data, often with devastating repercussions. Although it’s often the large corporations that we hear about in the news when they fall victim to cyberattacks, it’s vital for all business owners to understand that nobody is safe from manipulative and cunning cybercriminals. Because of this, cybersecurity legislation and compliance training is vital for employees of all businesses of all sizes in order to best prevent an attack.
Cybersecurity compliance training should always begin with basic, regular awareness training for employees. Although the majority of cyberattacks are carried out externally by a criminal coder who gains access to company data through malicious malware, other attacks are often made possible thanks to the negligence or even ignorance of company employees about the issue. In many cases, employees who fall foul to social engineering attacks which target human psychology to manipulate people into handing over information can put a company at dire risk or even allow an attack to happen. Ensuring that all employees are compliant with cybersecurity policies should never simply involve writing up policies and implementing them; employees should also be educated and made aware of cyberattacks and how to prevent them.
Many business owners and managers make the mistake of believing that cybersecurity policies are much the same as any other policy, such as customer service policies, which can be written, implemented, and then essentially forgotten about. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In order to ensure that your organisation and employees are fully compliant with cybersecurity legislation and best protected against any possible attacks, staying constantly up to date and regularly reviewing policies is absolutely vital. The truth is that a company that was extremely protected and practically immune from an attack last year could be at significant risk this year if they have failed to update their policies and plans of action. This is because cybercrime is constantly evolving, with criminals and hackers regularly coming up with new malware to get past updated antivirus software. For this reason, staying one step ahead as much as possible with your policies is essential to reducing risk. A simulated attack is a good way of discovering just how strong your company’s cybersecurity is.
It Will Happen to You
Too many business owners and employees have read about security breaches in the news and know that they occur, but are under the illusion that it ‘won’t happen to them’. However, the truth is that more and more businesses are at a higher risk of cybercrime than ever before, with a huge percentage of small businesses falling foul to hacking and social engineering attacks. When designing your company policies for cybersecurity, it is vital to do so with the assumption that an attack is simply waiting to happen. By having this attitude, you and your employees will be better prepared in the event of an attack, and will also be more vigilant whilst working making you better able to recognise the signs of an attempted cyberattack.
The protection of your customers’ and employees’ sensitive data should always be the first priority when preventing a cyberattack. If, as an organisation, you store data about your employees and customers such as addresses, National Insurance numbers, financial information and medical records, the protection of these is your responsibility by law. Because of this, an organisation which fails to do so could also experience severe legal consequences in the event of an attack, not to mention a serious decline in reputation and the loss of employees and customers who were affected.
Protecting data should be your most important concern, for example only giving certain, trusted members of staff authorisation to access sensitive employee and customer data and encrypting systems which store the information. Anti-virus software and firewalls on any machines or servers which store sensitive customer or employee data should always be completely up to date and regularly checked. Employees who deal with sensitive data should be trained to be hyper vigilant and highly suspicious of emails and links which could be precursors to an attack.
Cybersecurity legislation states that it is the responsibility of a company by law to protect the sensitive data of its customers and employees. Because of this, it’s vital to have regularly updated policies in place and ensure that all employees are aware of cybersecurity and attack prevention.