With high-profile security breaches appearing regularly in the news, consumers have more reason than ever to want to safeguard their financial information. But you might not be aware that financial data is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to information that is vulnerable to hackers. If you work in a specialized field such as healthcare and do not handle financial transactions and banking information, you could reasonably assume that security is less of an issue for you.
However, cyberattacks target far more than just financial data. Any personal information can potentially be valuable to hackers, and they will go to surprisingly great lengths to get it. Here is what you need to know about maintaining network security in the face of growing cyber threats.
Types of Personal Data Targeted by Hackers:
Any personal details about employees and clients you have on file could be threatened by criminals online. Although the rewards are not as readily apparent as they are in the case of financial data, many types of personal information still have considerable value to hackers.
Usernames and passwords are frequently sought after because they can be used to carry out a number of targeted attacks. For example, cybercriminals could gain access to a CEO’s login information and use it to send phishing emails throughout the company—because of the credible source, many people would be taken in by the scam. Hackers could also impersonate customer service personnel and solicit information from customers via email, or use their access to an employee account to aim for larger targets within the company. Even if no financial data is lost in the breach, compromised login credentials can still wreak havoc within a small- to medium-sized organization.
Healthcare records are attractive to cybercriminals because they contain a lot of sensitive data, such as Social Security Numbers and insurance identification numbers, but they are typically not as well-protected as financial information. According to Data Breach Today, the FBI estimates that $80 billion of the roughly $2.2 trillion spent on health care each year in the U.S. is associated with fraudulent charges. Criminals who obtain patient data through inadequately secured healthcare records can use it to commit fraud or sell it to the highest bidder. External attacks are steadily increasing, and the healthcare industry must adapt to protect patient data.
SSNs and Other IDs
Hackers who gain access to Social Security Numbers, driver’s license numbers, passports, and other forms of identification can use them to commit identity fraud or sell the information to identity thieves. Even if the victim’s bank account and credit cards are not directly affected by the breach, this type of fraud can ruin their credit rating and make it difficult to apply for loans, or even find employment. In addition, ransomware attacks often target personal information of this nature, encrypting the data and demanding payment to release it. Attacks in which no financial information is directly compromised can still have a disastrous effect on your time, money, and reputation.
What You Can Do to Secure Your Data:
There are several proactive steps you can take on your own to make sure your data stays safe. Each security measure you enact makes it that much harder for your organization to become a target, so be aware of the options available to you.
Train Employees to Recognize Threats
The first line of defense against threats to cybersecurity is a well-trained workforce. Phishing and spear phishing attacks are common methods that target employee inboxes, so train them to recognize suspicious emails. This includes any communication from an unfamiliar source they did not initiate, and often these emails include links to suspect URLs, prompts to download attachments, or requests for personal information.
In addition, employees should be made aware of best practices for avoiding malware, such as keeping antivirus software up to date and avoiding opening suspicious email attachments or visiting risky websites. A managed service provider (MSP) can partner with your company and give workers actionable strategies to improve cybersecurity.
Set Up Multifactor Authentication
You are probably familiar with this process, which most banks employ to secure customer data. After one successful login, a temporary code is texted to the phone or sent to the email associated with the account, and the customer logs in a second time using that number. This ensures that the person accessing the account is really who they say they are.
How to Improve Network Security:
Protect Mobile Devices
Be sure that any mobile devices that come into contact with your company network are protected at all times. One way to keep devices safe is by ensuring your employees use VPNs when operating online via public Wi-Fi networks. Mobile phones should also have remote wipe capabilities enabled, and their operating systems should be kept up to date.
Create a Disaster Recovery Plan
Putting a recovery plan in place provides added security by making sure you will be prepared in the event of a data breach. All important information should be automatically backed up, ideally on cloud servers, ready to be accessed in the event of a disaster or other unforeseen event. There are obvious benefits to having a plan like this in place in the event of a ransomware attack. For example, if all your data is backed up and accessible, then hackers have no leverage over your company.
Foster a Security Culture
If your employees are empowered to anticipate cybersecurity concerns and respond to them, they are much less likely to fall victim to phishing scams or other targeted attacks. It is a good idea to regularly go over security protocols with employees and make them aware of emerging threats that have affected others in your industry. Having a strong password protocol in place will also help to prevent password attacks. An MSP can work with you to develop a cybersecurity strategy that fits your organization.
JMARK has been providing network security solutions for organizations of all sizes for 30 years and was recently named one of the Top 100 Security Service Providers in the world. Strong security measures are “baked into” the infrastructure of every I.T. solution we provide. For more information about how to secure your network, contact us today by calling 844-44-JMARK, sending us an email at [email protected], or through the Contact Us page of our website.