Lockdown has encouraged all businesses to implement and pivot fast, moving at an incredibly quick pace to maintain a healthy workforce and create a working environment that encourages productivity (opens in new tab). From adopting virtual meeting tools such as video conferencing (opens in new tab) to saving documents to the cloud (opens in new tab), the focus has been on getting the day-to-day business up and running which may have come at the cost of putting cybersecurity on the back foot.
John Chambers is the Director of IT, Communication, Workplace, Business Process & Application Services at Ricoh UK.
At Ricoh, we’ve seen an uptake in the use of ransomware (opens in new tab), and it’s clear that cybercriminals have been using this moment of upheaval to their advantage. From the stories that dominate the news, such as Ryanair’s data breach and Honda’s ransomware attack, to malicious news story links. Cybercriminals are targeting businesses from all angles at an exponential rate.
So how can you protect your business, especially as you begin to look at returning to the office? At Ricoh, we believe a people-centric approach to cybersecurity (opens in new tab) is critical for companies looking to make their businesses safer. An employee base who is fully equipped to protect themselves from cybercrime is the front-line defense which can leave your IT service teams with more time to tackle any more significant attacks coming through.
This article will look at the ways you can equip your employees, and IT teams with the right technology to defend your business and the contingency plans and processes that can help protect your business as your transition back to the office.
The impact of ransomware on all types of organisations
In the early days of early 2020, you had corporate-grade security measures and data centers protecting office locations. While there would have most likely been some remote workers, it would have most certainly been a minority of any business. These days, your business is likely to have hundreds of unofficial offices with a significantly weaker safety perimeter devised of routers (opens in new tab) or home hubs, both of which are a much more accessible entryway for would-be attackers.
This weakened defense perimeter, alongside an increase in phishing emails and malicious news site links floating around the web, put your business at risk. All it takes is one employee to click the wrong link for a cybercriminal to deploy malware onto their work device, before rapidly spreading throughout the entire organisation’s system and ceasing operation.
Not only can ransomware leave your business unable to proceed, locking you out, reducing productivity and costing you more money than you could imagine, it can also impact your future business. Clients want to know their information is secure, that the projects you are working on for them are safe, and that their valuable data is protected. Not only can a ransomware attack lead to the loss of current clients but also to the loss of future customers by damaging your reputation. The effects can be devastating and long-lasting and given the uncertainty the business world is in, it’s not a risk or a cost any of us can take.
So what can you do to protect your business?
Protecting a business from Ransomware catastrophe
At Ricoh, we are firm in our belief that its people who make IT work, which is why IT must be people-centric. According to the Cyber Security Survey, 63% of disruptive breaches were discovered by employees, not by technology. An alarming statistic that in the UK, we spent 4bn on cybersecurity last year.
Traditional business tends to adopt a prevention-based perimeters approach, which while important, might not be as effective as they could be. As such, the use of innovative and disruptive technologies is a great way to increase the number of threats being picked up by technology as opposed to your employees. The first thing any business needs to do is review their posture and think about the ways they can currently respond to an attack. All companies should make sure they have two lines of defense.
The first is identification and protection. This is technology such as email scanners, DNS blockers, firewalls (opens in new tab) and sandblockers, and they act as your outer perimeter working to protect you from incoming attacks. However, it is the second line of defense which is crucial, and often forgotten or looked at as an afterthought.
The second line of defense should be technology which detects, responds and recovers. When it comes to cyber-attacks and ransomware, there is a critical time gap from the moment ransomware infects the system to the moment it is noticed. The faster it is detected, the more you can save, and the less you are likely to have lost. Remember, malware (opens in new tab) can begin to encrypt 8-10 thousand files per minute once it’s on a system, so time is of the essence.
As such, businesses must invest in technology which can notify them immediately if there is a breach of their initial cyber perimeter, shortening the time gap between infection and detection. It’s not enough to simply build a firewall and hope nothing gets through. You need to be alerted immediately if there’s an issue with your defenses and if malicious software has infected your system.
Digital experience assessment and your cybersecurity
Another way of looking at it is this. The first line of defense protects your employees from clicking phishing links and opening attachments from suspicious senders. The second line of defense gives your business the power to act quickly, making sure you’re not relying on your staff to notify you of strange and unusual happenings; but is there another step you should be including? The answer is, yes.
A recent study found that 66% of remote workers have not received cybersecurity training (opens in new tab) in the last year. The same study also found that 60% of employees used personal devices to log in to business applications. These statistics, coupled with the increase in cyber attacks, demonstrates just how important it is to make your approach to cybersecurity people-centric.
An organisation made up of educated and informed employees is a safer one, there is no doubt about it, and while training is an investment in time and money what it could potentially save you is nothing in comparison.
As such, the investment in cybersecurity – from the technology your business employs, to the training you offer – is more critical than it has ever been as our defences are more exposed than they’ve ever been. The speedy digital transformation (opens in new tab) of day-to-day business which I mentioned earlier may seem like an upheaval to you. Still, it should be looked as an opportunity to increase your defense and protection, because the criminals are looking at it a chance to attack you. Ultimately it would be best to take this time to look at what you have currently at your disposal and use that to identify areas where you’re lacking.