Businesses of all sizes face threats from cybercriminals. As the techniques and technologies employed by malicious actors become more sophisticated, IT security becomes an increasingly pressing issue for C-suite executives.
As a major business hub, financial centre and tech leader, London is clearly a prime target for cybercriminals. Hackney Borough Council was hit in October 2020.
A report addressing Cyber Security Breaches in 2019 published by the Department for Digital. Culture, Media & Sport, reads:
“From a regional perspective, businesses in London are more likely to see cybersecurity as a very high priority than others (51%, vs. 40% overall).”
The BBC reports there was a “sharp increase” in the number of cyber-attacks across the UK in 2019, with more than 60% of firms reporting one or more attacks.
In 2020, that number of cyberattacks targeting UK firms sky-rocketed to 96%.
As a matter of fact, British firms are hit by more cyberattacks and GDPR data breaches than any other European country. There are also a variety of factors that leave certain London businesses more vulnerable to breaches than others.
1. Employees Biggest IT Security Threat
The biggest security risks to London business are your employees. Cybersecurity experts estimate 40% of data security breaches are caused by stressed employees.
Malicious actors use a variety of tactics to infiltrate business IT networks; phishing emails, malware, adware, spyware, password cracking, wireless hacking and more.
Employees of London businesses are often targeted because people generally set weak passwords, mishandle sensitive data in applications, download malware or unwittingly divulge credentials to office interlopers.
Cybercriminals are becoming more adept at using social engineering techniques to fool gullible and unsuspecting employees. The British, known worldwide for their politeness, are targeted for being too trusting and could be persuaded by charming individuals with a silver tongue.
Of course, physical interlopers entering business premises are far less infrequent but is not beyond the realms of possibility. Unless employees are educated about how to recognise targeted cyberattacks, London businesses remain vulnerable to cyberattacks.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools
In the book, Implications of Artificial Intelligence for Cybersecurity: Proceedings of a Workshop, several advanced cybersecurity experts suspect artificial intelligence (AI) will pose a significant threat to businesses of all sizes.
Cybercriminals can build systems that infiltrate networks with little human involvement. All it takes is a simple machine learning (ML) model designed to predict people’s behaviours.
Malicious attacks executed with AI tend to be more successful than physical interlopers and infiltration through web-based platforms, mobile apps and malicious advertising. Once the code is installed in a network, hackers do not have to rely on human intervention and step-by-step techniques to build a library of data that enables them to access sensitive data stored on an IT network.
The good news is that AI works both ways. It is possible for a business in London to install AI-enabled security software and access IT support services that are experts in cybersecurity.
According to Gartner, 70% of enterprises will integrate AI-based solutions for network security by 2021. AI will become the “primary” threat detection option for London businesses.
AI security software surpasses human capacity for detecting and migrating cyberthreats. It automates key security processes and responds to cyberthreats faster.
However, to run the software effectively, businesses still need to use IT support professionals that are knowledgable about the data sets of AI systems.
The recent ransomware attack on Manchester United football club – a multi-billion pound enterprise – showed how vulnerable businesses of all sizes are to cybercrime.
Ransomware attacks are almost always opportunistic. These type of attacks generally encrypt files on infected systems and block users from accessing files. A message will appear demanding an extortion rate to unlock the files.
Other times, cybercriminals will advise a business they have captured personal data of customers and will threaten to release it to the public. Hospitals have become a prime target of ransomware attacks.
Ransomeware malware relies on user-initiated actions such as clicking a malicious link in spam emails, adware, or malvertising – malicious code encrypted in adverts on compromised websites.
Cybercriminals will usually target victims through an array of vulnerable devices such as laptops and smartphones that do not have effective security protection.
IT support providers can help you avoid ransomware attacks by installing advanced antivirus software together with anti-spam solutions, critical backup systems and a centralised patch management system on all your hardware, mobile devices, operating systems, software, applications, cloud locations and content management tools.
4. Remote Working IT Security Risk
The global pandemic significantly increased the number of employees working from home. But as London businesses were forced into allowing their employees to work remotely, many were – and still are – unprepared against IT security breaches.
London businesses are exposed to a variety of IT security threats including a higher risk to vulnerabilities associated with end-users mentioned above; phishing emails, malware, vulnerable devices etc.
In addition, employees have a tendency to work in cafes on open and insecure public networks. Public networks are easy for hackers to access.
IT security should be your business networks best friend but the relationship can easily be weakened if your staff are not properly educated about IT security threats.
Cybersecurity protocols and practices include multi-factor authentication, security training, and VPN.
5. Phishing Emails
Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly inventive with their spam emails. Phishing campaigns are targeting CEOs with spoof emails trying to trick people into clicking an infected link.
Impersonation tactics are the principal technique for phishing attacks – emails that appear to come from a reputable company your business may be using such as a bank, BT, EE or Microsoft.
For the most part, phishing emails appear to be genuine – at least they do at a glance. If the recipient clicks on the link it can download malicious malware onto their system where it can spy and collect critical information including usernames, passwords and configuration data.
IT support providers help to prevent phishing attacks by implementing multi-factor authentication and setting up email alerts that warn you of potential or real threats.
6. Reusing Passwords
It’s well-known that weak passwords present a security threat to any business. The same can be said for using the same password for multiple accounts.
A 2019 online security survey conducted by Google revealed that 65 per cent of people use the same password for more than one account or all their accounts.
A security issue arises when people choose passwords that are easy to remember such as birthday’s, the name of their children or pets and other information which can be detected by cybercriminals engaged in identity theft.
You would think by now, employees would be more cybersecurity savvy. But no. Eighty per cent of IT security breaches were a result of compromised passwords.
If end-users reuse their passwords, malicious actors only need to identify a password on one account and they also have instant access to other applications – and that could give them access to your business IT network.
7. Misconfigured Cloud Servers
A survey conducted by cloud infrastructure security provider, Fugue, revealed that over 300 IT and cloud professionals are concerned about how they will maintain the security of business networks, systems and devices in 2021.
The majority said the main concern was a misconfiguration of cloud applications because exploits are difficult to detect using traditional security analysis tools. 84% said their organisation may have already suffered a breach that was yet to be discovered.
Nine out of ten respondents said they have real concerns about security risks due to misconfiguration. Over half reported they experience 50 or more misconfigurations a day but alerts and remediate issues have dangerously longer vulnerability periods.
The worst security offenders are open administrator dashboards that do not require any means of authentication.
What many businesses in London fail to realise is that they have a shared responsibility for ensuring configuration is carried out properly. Most assume cloud service providers that handle the hardware and back-end portions of the cloud are responsible for every aspect of security.
Needless to say, most data breaches are because businesses are unaware of effective security policies and a lack of adequate controls. Security controls that worked well in traditional data centres do not work for the cloud.
IT support professionals help resolve these issues by adopting dedicated cloud security tools and implementing automated security solutions that can identify and remediate misconfigurations in real-time.
8. Apple Malware
Businesses in London increasingly favour Apple Macs because of the superior business tools. The also have built-in security technologies that help to make devices more secure, protect data, and prevent malware on compromised sites infiltrating devices, systems and networks.
However, in the last year, cybercriminals have turned their attention to Mac users because they reflect a wealthier user base – such as the capital’s extensive financial industry.
Apple Macs are no longer invulnerable. According to Thomas Reed, director of Mac & Mobile at Malwarebytes informed delegates at this year’s JNUC event that “Mac detections for 2019 were about four times higher than 2018,” he said. Threats per endpoint increased by more than 400%.
London-based businesses that use MacBooks are more likely to be exposed to the growing frequency of cybersecurity attacks. But Mac threats rarely involve malicious malware – most come from adware.
Although adware is not malicious itself, it can serve as a gateway for malware or spyware typically bundled in with software or apps that are then installed on your device. Knowing where the latest threats are coming from helps you to prevent security breaches.
9. IoT Devices and BYOD
The Internet of Things (IoT) will reshape the business landscape but connecting employee-owned devices in the workplace pose an IT security risk for London businesses.
Unmanaged devices such as wearables do not typically have efficient security protocols, policies or endpoint controls. Applications on many of these devices also store and transmit sensitive data, often through APIs and third-party channels. Insecure apps are the easiest gateway for malicious actors to access.
IT security solutions involves applying effective patch management protocols to a raft of devices. London businesses that neglect to apply patches to potentially vulnerable devices risk allowing attackers to move into your company network through the devices of your employees.
10. Careless IT Support Providers in London
With the increased number of cyberattacks, businesses are turning to London based outsourced IT Support providers as a top choice of protection. However, not every IT support provider in London delivers efficient cybersecurity services.
For example, London IT support providers that are too large to care about smaller firms, or have a high and rapid staff turnover can pose IT security risks in London businesses.
Another issue is the improper vetting of staff or not having an effective staff handbook or IT policy. It’s not uncommon for IT professional to use work systems after going to the pub at lunch. Focus in the afternoon declines and mistakes can be made.
The best IT support teams are proactive and use advanced behavioural analysis tools that monitor IT Infrastructure and your company’s critical information effectively. Harvested data enables experienced IT professional to research and implement best practices and security protocols.
IT security requires multiple layers of threat prevention that minimise the number of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Being proactive and applying continuous updates may be the difference between a secured business and one waiting to be exploited by attackers.
IT Support Providers Tighten Security Risks
The consequences of data breaches not only equate to financial loss but can damage the reputation of London businesses. Security breaches are likely to result in the loss of existing contracts and could harm your chances of acquiring new clients.
As a reliable provider of advanced IT security services, our job is to identify and fix weak spots by implementing effective solutions. Our advanced cybersecurity services cover every possible vulnerability including laptop encryption, managing an active antivirus, implementing multi-factor authentication, and more.
IT security risks in London businesses can be avoided by eliminating vulnerabilities that might lead to severe and costly attacks. At the very least, the damage can be mitigated.
Moreover, not every business has identical needs. There is no single IT security solution that effectively prevents malicious attacks. A London based IT support provider should examine your business network and design a cybersecurity plan based on your specific needs.
With advanced IT security tools and a team of dedicated and knowledgable IT experts on hand, MicroPro is confident we can help London businesses avoid IT security risks. Call us now to find out how we can protect your business.