Why Cyber Security Will Remain Vital In 2024

As the year draws to an end, individuals will be making their own New Year Resolutions. But while these can be frivolous – and we all know they don’t usually last beyond January, deciding what your firm’s priorities are in 2024 is a task no small business can take lightly.

The list of major goals for a new year can be long or short, but any firm with an online presence it has to include cyber security among its IT support priorities.

Whether it is your email systems, your website, your data storage, or your passwords, it is important to take a fresh look at it. Indeed, given the developing nature of new threats, this should happen more than just once a year.

If small business owners imagined that it was only large institutions like The British Library or government departments that were targeted by cyber criminals, the latest data shows this is far from being the case.

As Business Matters Magazine recently noted, government data has shown 53 per cent of SMEs have been targeted in 2023. Writing for the magazine cyber security specialist Steve McCormack of cyber security firm Incognito said the very reason the number is so high is the tendency of smaller firms to think they are less likely to be targets.

This does not necessarily mean the typical SME will not have any cyber security, but the anti-viral software packages it deploys may be quite basic, which makes it easier for sophisticated and skilled crooks to break through the defences. Moreover, this may give them an avenue for targeting larger companies in the supply chain.

He warned that ransomware is the most common threat companies face, where a virus can infect software, which may see data seized or functions blocked (known as a denial-of-service or DOS attack). Cybercriminals will then demand that they be paid a large sum of money to either hand back stolen data or end the DOS attack.

Mr McCormack listed some of the attacks on SMEs he was familiar with, often coming from what seemed innocent sources like an advert, or a faked invoice. He concluded that getting specialist help with cyber security is vital to protect firms from such calamities.

The warning about ransomware was recently echoed in an article by the Royal United Services Institute. It said that as the cyber security environment changes, ransomware has grown to the point where it has actually become a threat to national security.

This wider threat, it noted, has come from the way it has been used to target essential services like health provision or social security. Even so, it still noted that this is part of a wider picture in which individuals and businesses are targeted at all levels.

Perhaps most alarmingly, it pointed to research published earlier this year by Sophos showing that the average amount paid for ransoms in 2023 was £1.6 million.

Therefore, while you may have many exciting and ambitious ideas about where you want your company to go in 2024, not being held to ransom should still be a top priority.

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