The importance of cybersecurity

What is cybersecurity? 

Cybersecurity embodies a set of systems, processes, and actions that protect businesses from digital attacks. It is also known as information technology security or electronic information security. Using technology and digital platforms for commercial activities exposes companies to cybercrime like phishing, malware, or data and identity theft. To counteract these cyber threats, training and protocol cybersecurity can protect your digital networks, data, and systems. Cisco and Kaspersky both offer more in-depth information. 

Why does cybersecurity matter for my business?

An increasingly interconnected world through digital networks has enabled businesses to collect and share more information, which in turn allows them to reach new customers and innovate. But it has also led to a rise of criminal activities that profit from steeling customer data and spying on business practices. In 2019, a report from Risk Based Security found that about 7.9 billion records were exposed globally by data breaches, an increase of 112% from 2018 and a record number. Small businesses are also often security breach victims, representing more than 40% of attacks in 2019. As cyber threats can put your assets, data, information, and technology equipment at risk, investing in sound cybersecurity systems can prevent you from suffering financial losses and corporate reputation damages. For more information, see Kapersky’s Small Business Security Tips, Verizon’s data breach report, and ESET’s Data Security Guide.

What are some cyber threats that could affect my business? 

Some examples of cyber threats that may affect your business are identified by Expert Insights and summarized below:

  • Phishing: This a social engineering tactic that lures individuals into providing sensitive data by offering fake rewards. Through this tactic, criminals often target personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details, and passwords. For more information, see
  • Malware: This consists of malicious software that comes from website downloads, spam emails and connection to other machines or devices. Hackers use malware to gain access to networks and steal or destroy data on computers. For more information, see McAfee.
  • Ransomware: This is a form of malware that encrypts business files making them no longer accessible. Criminals use it to demand a ransom in exchange for unlocking the data targeted. For more information, see CSO.  
  • Weak passwords: Passwords are weak when humans or machines can easily identify them. Criminals that correctly identify passwords have easy access to business accounts that store confidential and sensitive data. For more information, see Intego.
  • Insider threats: These risks can come from current or former employees, business contractors, or other associates that seek to access critical business data for illicit purposes. For more information, see InterGuard.

How can I protect my business against cyber risks? 

Protecting your business from cyber risks can enable you to counteract criminal activity and keep pace with emerging trends in data privacy. You can start planning on cybersecurity strategies by identifying systems, data, and users that are essential for your business operations. This mapping exercise will highlight vulnerability points that can be the subject of your cybersecurity goals and strategies as well as help you to develop a cybersecurity plan at your business. For small business cybersecurity tips and training, see the Cyber Readiness Institute.

Where can I learn more about cybersecurity? 

Some institutions offer courses that can help you design and implement cybersecurity strategies. 

  • Cyber Readiness Program (free of charge): This program guides SMEs to become cyber ready and build resilience and strengths against cyber threats. For more, visit the Cyber Research Institute.
  • ITU Academy (for a fee): The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) offers a variety of courses for a fee on cyber security aspects. Visit the ITU Academy.
  • GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit (free of charge): The Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) offers a cybersecurity toolkit designed for small businesses as well as online training courses. Visit the GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit.
  • National courses on cybersecurity: Some governments have put in place cybersecurity training and certifications schemes for companies. These include:
    1. The U.S. Small Business Agency (SBA), which provides a course with a holistic content on steps and actions that you can consider for starting a cybersecurity strategy. Visit the SBA.
    2. The United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre, which provides training and certification.
    3. Cyber Secure Canada, which is an SME-targeted certification scheme.