The unseen business threats lurking behind virtual doors


Charl Ueckermann, CEO of AVeS Cyber security Joined Fred Roed to talk about cyber threats facing all small, medium and large businesses. The IT and cyber security landscape is changing rapidly and many underestimate the risks.

Viruses and malware pose the biggest threats to company information and data security. “There are currently four to five new viruses or pieces of malware launched every second of every day. This means protection against them has to evolve equally as fast. Trying to keep up, can be an enormous challenge,” says Ueckermann.

Breaking through virtual protection is not that difficult. Charl and his AVeS teams are often challenged to gain access to company data as a test case. “I would say in 99% of the cases, we take about half an hour to gain access. By then, we will also have between 20% and 30% of people's passwords, because employees make a company vulnerable,” he says.

It’s true, when you work in a mine or factory, you don’t start working until you know all the health and safety requirements. Yet, in a business, people access networks without going through IT security induction. Becoming more aware of the cyber threats is vital.

Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there

Working in cyber security means you have to adapt quickly and keep learning. “For us, the satisfaction comes from giving people better cyber protection,” he says. What they have seen is that people do not always understand what the risks are or why cyber security is so important. Euckermann warns, “Just because it’s something you cannot see, it doesn’t mean there is no risk to you or your business. People find it difficult to make sense of the high risks they are open to through technology.”

An example of how things have changed and why the risks are greater:

Before WiFi and the Cloud, you could only access a company’s network from inside its building. Today, with the connected world, you can easily access a network from anywhere. “If you don’t make sure you put the right checks and access management in place, it is really easy for someone to gain entry to your business data. Especially with more people moving to the Cloud. It opens opportunities to be hacked,” explains Ueckermann.

Public WiFi at your local internet café or your favourite coffee shop is not secure. It’s here, where you’re not aware of the risks, that hackers gain access to everything on your mobile or laptop. “People don’t realise the risks in these public settings. You must have proper protection mechanisms installed – but even then, it is a risk,” Ueckermann says.

The financial knock from a cyber-attack

Ueckermann says for an individual, it can range from credit card theft to stolen data. Besides the financial loss, it can be emotional. For a small business, not including the reputational damage, the cost of a compromise can be upward of R1 million rand. For larger organisations, it can be about R16 million for an incident. It’s vital to avoid it in the first place.

Five cybersecurity pointers for the small to medium-sized business

Ueckermann suggests that small businesses take these minimum steps to spruce up protection against cyber-attacks:

  1. Buy a proper and reputable anti-virus product. Do not download free versions. These free anti-virus programmes are often designed by the very people you want to keep away from your network. When you download it, they get access to your information. With Discovery Business Insurance, you get a best-of-breed anti-virus product as part of the insurance package.
  2. Always do updates to your anti-virus software. The cost of a cyber-attack far outweigh the data or time you will use to do it. Manufacturers of software identify vulnerabilities in the software, which hackers often get to know of, and they give you a patch or code to harden the software from exposure.
  3. Make a backup of your critical data. The livelihood of a business lies in data, including customer details, product formulas, logistics and more. If it is compromised on a server because of inadequate access controls, you need to have a backup to help minimise the effect of the breach.
  4. Set strong passwords. You don’t use only one key to open your car, house or safe. Your passwords should be the same. Be creative when you choose a password and use a mind map to remember them.
  5. Never click on emails from sources you don’t know or that look suspicious. Always question emails you receive or phone calls asking you to open a link. It could be someone posing as an employee or supplier to gain access to information. Be aware and ask yourself, does this make sense?

Ueckermann’s advice is, “Use technology wisely to enable your business. Proactively monitor your environment so you can respond. A part of our service, in partnership with Discovery Business Insurance, is to go out and assist clients to recover data and to get up and running in the shortest space of time.”

Listen to the HealthyBusiness podcast: Robocops and cybercrime as Charl shares more about hackers and hacking, and what help you can get to stay safe.

Be sure to read upcoming articles on types of cyber-crime and how you can protect your business.

Get innovative business cover, including cover for the risks of today

Discovery Business Insurance, in partnership with specialist companies, give you cover and services to manage the evolving and modern risks your business faces, including cyber risks, reputational risks and legal risks. Our cyber insurance cover provides a holistic approach in helping you to both understand and mitigate the cyber-risks of your business. As part of our partnership with AVeS Cyber Security, you get access to protection packages at discounted rates to know and address the risks and to protect your business from the effects of a cyber-attack. Get more information here.

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