Letters

How start-ups can keep cyber attackers at bay

attack

Warning cyber attack sign on a virtual digital screen. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • Sensitising your employees and all personnel accessing or using the business database is one of the key ways to keep out most of the attacks.
  • Most cyber attacks happen, not because the hackers are smart, but because your employees are not.
  • It is advisable to spend big to keep your business safe rather than engaging in a wild goose chase after it has happened.

It is not uncommon to hear reports of cyber-attacks targeting reputable brands and businesses across the world. As a business looking to build a brand and compete with the big guns, cyber-security is a no-brainer. You have to implement it at all levels or suffer the fate of having to start all over again, multiple times, because of unwarranted infiltrations.

A cyber-attack is as bad as a bomb going off in your office. They have similar, devastating effects and recovery is expensive or never happens. Imagine building your business and getting flattened when you are feeling everything is as it should be.

The digital evolution has brought with it unprecedented dangers to the very tools that are supposed to spearhead the evolution. Hackers are now sophisticated; they unleash sporadic and random attacks.

A VULNERABILITY

This means that your website, your emails, your files and your computer system are ‘under the radar’ of malicious people waiting to pounce the moment they spot a vulnerability.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) estimates that there were at least 56 million cyber-attacks on businesses and organisations. It is a significant increase from the past couple of years.

The figure is expected to rise by the end of the year, helped by the fact that most businesses are switching to online operations without adequate training in cyber-security.

The line of defence has been stretched significantly in that if you had the team using one secure office network, you now have everyone working from home and accessing business resources on multiple networks using multiple devices.

Microsoft says spending on firewalls and antivirus software in the year following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic went up by 64 percent. This shows the urgency organisations are putting into cyber security.

According to the CA, malware and web application attacks surpassed 50 million in the year following the start of the pandemic.

Businesses must, therefore, employ necessary measures to bar a majority of these attacks.

Sensitising your employees and all personnel accessing or using the business database is one of the key ways to keep out most of the attacks. Studies have shown that most cyber-attacks are a result of carelessness of software users. Hackers need that little loophole to gain access.

When an employee logs into the business system on a shared device and forgets to log out or when they use unprotected devices, hackers get easy breakthrough to devastate your business. Most cyber attacks happen, not because the hackers are smart, but because your employees are not. So, educate your employees and ensure they understand what is at stake.

Using outdated software is yet another way hackers can get access to your business and lock you out. Always be on the lookout for when updates are available and ensure you have the right versions; some updates may come with virus attachments and malware.

If you are in doubt, seek the help. Outdated software could have loopholes that give attackers a free ride into your confidential file storage units.

CHEAPER OPTION

For your business to grow and establish your desired brand, ensure your device or devices are in good condition and firewalled. Use updated and effective virus protection software. It costs much less to purchase that antivirus or firewall for your device than it is to recover from a hacking attempt or an actual hack.

Hackers are stationed all over the world. Some have employed sophisticated software in their malicious trade that makes it hard to trace where they are located. It is, therefore, advisable to spend big to keep your business safe rather than engaging in a wild goose chase after it has happened. I do not think you have much of chance going after a hacker stationed in a remote town somewhere.

Today, hacking is a criminal enterprise. They do it round the clock. Indeed, some businesses are collectively losing more than the Gross Domestic Product of the countries they are operating in. Your business is not safe. In fact, the moment you will feel all is well is when you will be overrun. Protect your business and build your brand reputation by keeping cyber-attacks at bay.

Reuben Wanjala Simiyu, Communications & Marketing Consultant.