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 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 must evolve equally as fast. Trying to keep up can be an enormous challenge," says Ueckermann.

Breaking through virtual protection is not that difficult. Ueckermann and his AVeS Cyber Security teams are often challenged to gain access to company data as a test case. "I would say that 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 that when you work in a mine or factory, you don't start working until you know all the health and safety requirements are in place. Yet, in a business, most 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 must adapt quickly and keep learning. What AVeS Cyber Security has seen is that people do not always understand what the risks are or why cyber security is so important. Ueckermann warns: "Just because it's something you can't see, 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 Wi-Fi and the Cloud, you could only access a company's network from inside its building. Today, however, 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 easy for someone to gain entry to your business data. Especially with more people moving their information and documents to the Cloud. It opens opportunities to be hacked," explains Ueckermann.

Public Wi-Fi 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 device or laptop. "People don't realise the risks in these public settings. You must have proper protection mechanisms installed - but even then it is still risky," Ueckermann says.

The financial knock from a cyber-attack

Ueckermann says that for an individual, it can range from credit card theft to stolen data. Besides the financial loss, it can also cause emotional damage. For a small business, not taking into consideration the reputational damage, the cost of such a compromise can be upward of R1 million. For larger organisations, it can be about R16 million for an incident. It stands to reason, then, that it is vital to avoid cyber security breaches in the first place.

Five cybersecurity pointers for the small to medium-sized business

Ueckermann suggests that small businesses start with these minimum steps to start sprucing up protection against cyber attacks:

  1. Buy a proper and reputable anti-virus product. Do not download free versions. These free antivirus 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 will get the best on the market in terms of antivirus products as part of your insurance plan.
  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 update your antivirus software. Software manufacturers identify vulnerabilities in their software over time and through updates, they give you a patch or code to harden the software from cyber exposure.
  3. Make a backup of your critical data. The livelihood of a business lies in data, such as customer details, product formulas and logistics. If it is compromised on a server because of inadequate access control, 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 whether it makes 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 time possible."

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

Learn about the holistic and market-leading business insurance cover from Discovery; contact a broker today or get a quote.

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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