The tide is turning. The last couple of years have seen infamous hacks of household names including Experian, Facebook, Amazon and HSBC. Now, however, cybercriminals’ attentions are turning to smaller businesses. If you think about it, it’s obvious: SMEs don’t consider themselves targets so have lower (sometimes no) defences.
Digital agencies are a prime example. Chances are, you hold vast reams of detailed customer data – the kind that would sell for good money on the Dark Web or allow them to clone individuals’ identities. Digital agencies are also increasingly the victims of ransom attacks, where access to vital data is withheld unless a ‘ransom’ amount is paid to the hackers. Here’s what to look out for as we approach 2020:
Apps aren’t always what they seem, even if they appear on the Google Play or Apple’s app stores. Malware downloaded by an unsuspecting user can have a devastating effect on an individual – not to mention an organisation if the device is also used to access company systems and files. ZooPark, a new Android malware, caused chaos particularly in the Middle East this summer. It’s a trend for cybercrime that continues to pay dividends for criminals, so it’s unlikely to die down next year.
Employees, freelancers and contractors bringing in their own devices to work is on the rise. But, if anyone you employ is using their own phone, tablet or laptop to gain access to your company systems, they could be placing your network and data at risk. Are they connecting to public wifi networks when out and about? They could be leaving the door open to anyone else using an unsecured network to steal your business’ login credentials.
Personal use of company kit
It’s not just BYOD you should keep an eye on; keep vigilant about how your employees use your company devices. For instance, if an employee uses a company-owned phone for personal activities outside of work, they could be compromising your business’ security – and hackers are well aware of this.
Preventing an attack in 2020
So, we’ve heard about the three biggest threats to your creative small business. What about the solutions? Here are some essential steps you should take to protect your digital agency:
• Put your staff on high alert
Invest in continuous employee training so they can be your first line of defence in the fight against cybercrime. By making them more aware of the risks, you’ll also be reducing the ‘human error’ factor, which is still the single biggest reason for most breaches. We can come in and run regular training, offer continuous education online, or organise a penetration testing session where we’ll ‘stress test’ your resilience and point out any weak points so you know where to concentrate your efforts.
• Limit BYOD
Tell your key employees not to use their personal devices to access your systems, particularly if they have access to sensitive data. These employees are the likely targets of spear phishing campaigns, where legitimate-looking emails arrive in their inboxes. Highly convincing, they may include links or downloads which, if clicked, release a virus onto your network.
• Double-down on passwords
No one likes remembering long or complicated passwords, but they’re still a key line of defence for your business. Enforce regular password changes, implement multi-factor authentication, and make sure you keep tight control on access when an employee leaves the business.
Don’t rest on your laurels. Small businesses are under real threat from cybercrime. Creative SMEs – like London’s digital agencies – are under more threat than most, thanks to holding plenty of valuable customer data.
Cybercriminals are always looking for the next way in, so security shouldn’t be seen as a one-time thing. To keep your business protected, it’s worth staying aware of the latest threats, putting next-gen cybersecurity measures in place, and using a specialist IT company like ours.
We make it our business to stay on top of cyber risk. We’re also well-versed in the specific challenges faced by creative SMEs, serving media, marketing and advertising companies across London. Contact us to find out more.