With each new year, the world of technology grows more advanced and capable. Developments in technology have allowed us to work faster and more efficiently than ever before, leading businesses into tremendous growth. But, as technology continues to develop and grow, so do cybersecurity risks. In 2021 alone, the cost of cybercrime totaled approximately $6 trillion worldwide. To ensure the longevity of your business in future years, you must learn from the mistakes of 2021 and prepare for the cybersecurity threats of 2022.
Prominent Cybersecurity Attacks in 2021
Cybersecurity attacks are a prominent concern in any industry. As technology grows more advanced, the threat of cybersecurity and malware attacks grows more prevalent. Particularly in recent years, the threat of these attacks has grown - as have the consequences. If an attack or breach is significant enough, it could compromise both a company’s reputation and financial stability. These consequences could then result in the downfall of your business, no matter how seemingly secure you may be now.
While cybersecurity is a significant concern - more so every year, there are ways to strengthen your organization against such threats. But, before diving into the best cybersecurity practices to adopt in the upcoming year, it is helpful to acknowledge the mistakes made in 2021. To do so, we will review some of the most prominent cybersecurity attacks from the past year.
In May of 2021, the media was dominated by news of a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the US. As a result of the cyberattack, fuel deliveries were disrupted for several days in 12 states, causing a significant backup for fuel. To prevent further damage, Colonial Pipeline company shut down its operations. Still, ultimately the company’s CEO paid $4.4 million in ransom to end the attack.
Another significant cyberattack in May of 2021 was on JBS Foods, the world’s largest meat processor. A hacking group breached the company, forcing the temporary closure of operations in Australia, Canada, and the US. While fortunately, this event did not lead to any major food shortages, JBS had to pay $11 million in ransom to prevent further disruptions.
One of the largest insurance firms in the US also experienced a cybersecurity attack in 2021. In March, CNA Insurance’s network was hacked, resulting in the encryption of 15,000 employee devices. This attack resulted in the compromising of 75,000 employees’ data, including Social Security numbers, health benefit information, and family members’ names. Due to the severity of this breach, trading was temporarily halted, and CNA Insurance agreed to pay $40 million to regain network access.
These instances were only the tip of the iceberg of cybersecurity attacks in 2021. For organizations of any size, the financial burden of a cyberattack of these sizes is damaging. But, for smaller businesses, such a loss could result in the end of your company’s lifespan. To avoid the consequences of a cybersecurity attack and learn from the past year's mistakes, it is critical that you implement these cybersecurity best practices.
Best Practices to Adopt in 2022
Many companies make the mistake of believing that all they need to defend themselves against cybersecurity attacks are antivirus and antimalware software. While these are essential tools, relying only on these measures to protect your entire organization is not enough. In reality, information and cybersecurity should be practiced in every aspect of your organization, and you can do so by adopting these practices.
The first step to improving your company’s cybersecurity measures is by performing a risk assessment. While this process may be time-consuming and somewhat tedious, it is well worth the hassle. The risk assessment essentially serves as an internal audit of all of the security risks your organization is currently facing.
Once risks are identified, you should rate risks based upon their threat level and determine methods of mitigating each risk. This process is excellent in helping you identify areas for improvement, and you may even discover a risk that you didn't know existed.
Zero Trust Security
Another excellent way to enhance cybersecurity is by adopting the zero-trust security method. This is a concept based on the idea that companies should never automatically trust anything, whether inside or outside their organization. Instead, everything and everyone attempting to access your system should be verified before being granted access.
Incorporating multi-factor authentication and single-sign on are great ways of practicing zero-trust security, ensuring that the users gaining access are who they claim to be. As a result, no users or devices can access your system until authorized, significantly reducing the risk of breaches or unauthorized user access.
Cybersecurity Awareness Training
A simple and effective yet often overlooked method of improving cybersecurity within your company is by training your staff. More than half of cyber attacks and breaches occur due to human error, and more than 80% of reported security incidents are due to phishing attempts.
Particularly for employees working remotely, it is crucial that they understand the risks of using their devices on a public or insecure network. Attacks could be significantly reduced if employees were provided proper training on cybersecurity protocol and what to look for in a phishing attempt or breach.
Even prior to training your staff, you can strive to recruit professionals already experienced or certified in cybersecurity. More and more IT professionals are looking to boost their careers, and many are doing so by obtaining certifications. By recruiting individuals with cybersecurity training, and cloud security in particular, you can equip your company with team members who value cybersecurity and will help root it in your organization.
Companies can even get certified themselves from an organizational level. Certifications such as ISO 27001 can be achieved at an organizational or individual level, demonstrating a heightened level of information security.
Outsource Your Cybersecurity Needs
For organizations looking for heightened cybersecurity with a team of experts to supplement their preexisting workforce, outsourcing your cybersecurity needs is the solution. By partnering with an MSP, companies can obtain cost-effective cybersecurity services, ensuring that they adhere to the most enhanced cybersecurity measures and remain in compliance.
MSPs are equipped with a team of cybersecurity experts, fully prepared to protect your company from any cyberattacks, breaches, or misconfigurations. With 24/7 service, you can rest assured that your provider will stop and resolve any cybersecurity threats if not avoid them altogether.
Cybersecurity is a serious matter and should be treated as such. With the right cybersecurity practices, you can avoid the devastating consequences of a cybersecurity attack - ranging from a hefty fine, damaged reputation, legal consequences, and the loss of your business. In learning from the mistakes of 2021, your company can practice heightened cybersecurity in the upcoming year.