Have you ever thought about the digital risks your business faces? We’re not just talking about computer viruses or replacing old laptops, there are issues which could have a serious effect on your business if they occur. It’s never been more important for businesses to effectively manage and assess their digital risks.
Businesses are buying more and more into the idea of digitising their processes. To do this, you’ll inevitably need to be open to risks that you may not have considered before. These risks are not new. What has changed is that the way organisations operate can amplify these risks if they are not managed well. Knowledge is power and knowing what you’re up against must be the first step in mitigating risk within your business.
This article will discuss some of the main digital risks to your business and give you some practical advice on how to mitigate these risks.
Risk: Hardware Failure and Data Loss
In both our personal lives and professional lives, we fear hardware failure. It always seems to happen at the most inconvenient moment, like just before an important meeting is about to start. When we’re on the receiving end of technological problems, it’s one of the most frustrating things in the world. If there’s no obvious fix, then you’re left feeling totally helpless.
Hardware failure and redundancy is a costly inevitability, but careful business planning and regular backups can save you a lot of time and stress.
Data loss can be catastrophic without regular backups, people have lost their valuable work, studies and even irreplaceable memories.
Risk: Cyber Security Threats
Cybersecurity attacks are always evolving and changing. Businesses must adapt and stay up to date with new and emerging threats.
DDOS Attacks, SQL Injection and Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
These threats may sound high-tech and difficult to understand, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous to your business.
Attacks such as these can make your infrastructure unavailable to both staff and customers, causing you to lose revenue and possibly damage your professional reputation.
Also, physical hardware can become damaged by such attacks. You may also lose data or need to deal with corrupted data and files, so having recent backups is extremely important and can protect you from a range of cybersecurity threats.
Ransomware has plagued computer systems in recent years, and it can be an incredibly scary situation for any business owner. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to protect your organisation against potential ransomware attacks and ensure your data is safe.
You should never have to pay a ransomware demand, especially if you’ve got an up-to-date backup. Ransomware and other viruses are spread through phishing emails, so training is important to help you and your staff recognise the tell-tale signs of spoofed emails. Firewalls and antivirus software also play a role to block emails like these from ever hitting the inbox in the first place, but you should always be vigilant when it comes to clicking on links in unsolicited emails.
Zero-day exploits are computer vulnerabilities that are exploited before a patch is released. These can include exploitable code in the web browser when visiting websites with the vulnerability.
Zero-day exploits can affect your own software and services as well as other software that you rely on.
Out of Date Software
Did you know that out of date software is considered a risk to your business? Not only does it mean you’re missing out on new features, but you could also be missing security features.
Often, cybersecurity experts can identify security issues so that software developers are able release an update before the hackers have the chance to exploit them.
It’s easy to ignore those pop-ups and reminders, so this is your sign to update your apps and software when you’ve finished reading this!
Risk: Data Privacy and Breaches
Data privacy can be considered a digital risk as almost all data is now stored electronically. In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office can issue large fines for data breaches. There may also be some reputational damage to deal with in the fallout of a data breach, customers will be less trusting and there could also be some negative media attention.
You can reduce the risk of data breaches in your organisation:
- Regular training for staff
- Strong passwords that are not used elsewhere
- Auto device locking
- Encrypted data
- Remote device management
Risk: Internal Threats and Employees
Employees, both current and former, can be a risk to your business. Former employees may still have access to certain systems if their accounts are not immediately deactivated. However, current employees also pose a risk.
Members of staff may be careless, such as leaving their devices logged in and unattended in public places or accidentally deleting a directory. This could be down to lack of training.
Alternatively, you may have employees who are malicious or knowingly cause damage if they have a perceived grievance against you or another member of staff.
These threats can be reduced through regular training, supervision and monitoring.
Risk: Natural Disasters and Force Majeure
This may seem the least likely risk, but the pandemic has shown us just how quickly things can change. Disasters such as flooding, or fires are becoming more common during extreme weather. Many businesses in South Wales were flooded during Storm Dennis, where stock and equipment was damaged.
Where computer equipment and electronics are involved with water or fire damage, replacement is usually the only option.
In this situation, having a backup of your files and data will not be enough. You must have an off-site backup or cloud backup, or your on-premises backup could be rendered useless after a flood or similar disaster.
Summary: Protecting your business from digital risks
Some of these risks may seem unlikely, but it’s important that you have a process in place to protect your organisation.
Here is a summary of the main steps you can take to protect your business:
- Keep regular backups of all your files
- Ensure at least one of your backups is store off-site or in the cloud
- Hold regular training sessions for your staff
- Maintain your computer equipment and understand the signs of hardware failure
- Never click on links in unsolicited emails
- Keep yourself up to date with the latest cybersecurity news and emerging threats