In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack locked businesses out of their data on more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries. The cyberattack took data hostage, demanding that organizations pay a ransom in bitcoin to regain access to their own information. The attack was one of the largest to date, and it paralyzed companies in nearly every industry, including hospitals, banks, and warehouses. In fact, businesses that relied on a network, such as schools, hospitals, and companies were particularly vulnerable, and continue to remain at high risk of cyberattacks. Damages from WannaCry are reported to range from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.
The malicious actors behind WannaCry encrypted data and sent a message to businesses demanding payment in three days or the ransom would increase. Those who refused to pay would lose access to some or all of the encrypted data. The attack targeted something very common: computers powered by Microsoft Windows.
No single industry is immune to attacks like WannaCry – ransomware and other cybercrimes affect organizations of all sizes, including highly connected or relationship-based businesses like law firms and financial services firms. A recent report suggests that the costs associated with cybercrime will hit $6 trillion annually by 2021!
We remind you of the massive WannaCry attack not to scare you. While cyberattacks are a real and growing threat to businesses like yours, each incident also serves as a powerful reminder about the importance of cybersecurity, whether that’s something as simple as updating software or something more robust and proactive, like instituting an end-to-end cybersecurity solution.
What is cybersecurity?
A cyberattack is any attempt by malicious actors, or hackers, to inflict harm against a network system or to access data without authorization. The antidote, then, is cybersecurity. Cybersecurity encompasses the technologies, processes, and practices that can be put into place to protect computers and networks from the growing threat of cyberattacks.
The harsh truth is that without a comprehensive cybersecurity plan in place, your business is at risk of a breach. An attack can shutter your operations and the cost to recover from a breach can be substantial, including, in some cases, crippling fines. But there are also non-financial risks to your business that you may not have considered, including theft of confidential data and reputational risks like decreased customer trust in your brand and services following a breach. This is especially important for professional services firms that rely on customer confidence and relationship-building to achieve business development goals.
For legal and financial services firms, the right cybersecurity solution can not only help your business ensure continuity, but also can help you comply with stringent industry or regulatory requirements. Today, cybersecurity comes in many different shapes and sizes, which is a good thing for you. At N8 Solutions, for example, we believe that IT should be simple, relationship-driven, and deliver a positively pleasant experience. Our approach is to take the time to truly understand your business and unique needs to deliver the right solution for you.
The Three Pillars of Cybersecurity
The best way to combat cybercrime is to block intrusions before they even happen. To help, we’ve identified what we call the “three pillars of cybersecurity,” which are desktop security, internet security, and infrastructure security. These three core areas form a robust and flexible cybersecurity solution to align with and proactively protect your business.
Desktop Security: An Entry Point for Intruders
Consider your desktop technology as the entry point to your organization’s information resources, almost like a front gate. Your desktop environment, which includes notebooks, laptops, and mobile phones, is the first obstacle to thwart intruders. If your desktop security is weak, so is the protection of your critical information.
Desktop intrusions can range from basic “shoulder hacking,” in which nefarious actors may visually observe passwords or other sensitive information like user names. Generally, there is a perception that cybersecurity attacks originate from shadowy foreign actors, but the attacks also can originate from within a business, by trusted staff with access to critical systems. Other desktop security risks may be unintentional, such as staff sharing files and information in an insecure manner.
The good news is that there are numerous desktop security guidelines, policies, and recommendations to improve desktop security. The goal here is to ensure the security of all of your business desktops for you, your staff, and your customers. This includes measures like anti-virus and anti-malware systems, firewalls, and email security. But how do you know which measures will keep your desktop environment secure? How do you ensure that all staff, both in-office and remote, have effectively installed the measures? And do you have the IT staff, resources, or expertise to maintain and update these procedures over time? In our experience, the answer is often no, even at very large professional services firms with dedicated IT resources.
Internet Security: Keep Your Web Services Secure
You rely on the internet to run your business, from your company website to your web-based applications and services. Despite its power and potential, the internet can be a vulnerable channel when it comes to sharing and storing business data. Malicious actors and hackers know this, too. All of your internet-facing applications and browsers must be properly set up to protect against the latest cyber risks, including malware, phishing scams, and ransomware attacks like WannaCry. Doing so will help your business reduce the risk from DDOS and other malicious attacks. As with desktop security, there are measures you can follow. The goal here is browser security and risk reduction, to institute rules and practices that prevent attacks over the internet.
Infrastructure Security: Take an End-to-End Approach
As with traditional infrastructure, your businesses’ infrastructure security is your entire security architecture, from your business and operational policies all the way to your technical controls. Infrastructure security looks at all of these components as a whole to ensure that your business is constantly protected against attacks. Because infrastructure security encompasses so many aspects of your technology, the right cybersecurity solution will take an end-to-end approach to protect your assets.
There are steps you can take, like multi-factor authentication, email security, firewalls, and network security layers. But, as with desktop security, what measures will be the most effective? How do you institute them among your staff? It can be difficult to know what steps to take right now. At N8 Solutions, we get this. Before we do anything, we first assess your network for weaknesses. Then, based on our findings, we configure, support, and proactively monitor the integrity of your entire infrastructure.
Cybercrime is on the rise, and attacks are growing more frequent and damaging, especially among relationship-based industries like professional services firms. You need to protect not only your own internal assets, but also the privacy and security of your important clients. It can seem daunting. But help exists! That’s why we started N8 Solutions. While we focus on the three pillars of cybersecurity for robust and flexible protection, we also focus on you. We like to say that we focus on the people using technology, rather than just the technology itself.