Cybersecurity challenges in the new normal!

by Angus Jones

2020 will be remembered for many things. And while many global communities still face enormous challenges, an important legacy of the pandemic is the acceleration of what was considered futuristic technology into mainstream adoption.

Almost overnight, our homes were turned into offices, classrooms, gym studios and social spaces, pushing technology reliance to a new level. All the evolution fostered over the past 30 years was incorporated at a broad scale and almost overnight. From video conferencing and streaming to massive eCommerce adoption and, even further, incredible digital tools for business management, healthcare and schooling, it all became essential in the ‘new normal’.

As we all adapted to this new reality, companies of all sizes began to see remote work as a new opportunity for the future. A recent Gartner CFO survey revealed that over two-thirds (74%) plan to permanently support employees working from home after the Covid-19 crisis ends.

Unfortunately, the new world of remote workforces drove a surge in cyberattacks and the risks continued to grow way into 2021. Check Point Software Technologies, a leader in cybersecurity solutions globally reported a 24% increase in cyberattacks in Australia.

During the Jan-Feb period of 2021, Check Point Research revealed each Australian organisation faced an average of more than 1,500 cyberattacks monthly compared to the previous four months, no organisation was spared. Check Point Research data also reported Australian SMBs experience an average of 50 cyber incidents each month, with 63% having accessed a malicious website in the last 90 days.

Are you prepared to conduct your business safely over the internet in this new world? There are many ways to transform challenges into opportunities.

How did this happen?

Both employees and businesses also faced numerous challenges with this new work-from-home environment. Suddenly, devices were being shared between different family members, homes had low complexity passwords to their Wi-Fi networks, and business data was being spread everywhere.

SMBs had it harder, but the lack of cybersecurity best practices and policies cannot be ignored. In fact, most institutions still rely on cybersecurity technology that dates back to the 2010s – what we call Generation III security that’s based on intrusion prevention systems (ISP).

For those unfamiliar, the First Generation of cybersecurity tools dated to the late 1990s and mainly comprised anti-virus software. In the early 2000s, the increased use of the internet drove the creation of firewall platforms evolved (Gen II). Since then, technology developed faster: around 2015, it incorporated behavioural analysis (Gen IV). Over time, detection-only based solutions stopped being enough against fast-moving attacks, which led to the current multi-vector prevention approach (Gen V) we see today.

Many Australian businesses only have third generation security deployed but this outdated technology can be just as dangerous as not having security at all. This is largely because the architecture in previous generations (i.e Gen III and IV) can’t protect against 5th generation attacks on today’s IT devices and networks.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the working-from-H\home necessitated that companies need to reconsider their cybersecurity approach. So how can businesses bridge this security gap?

Adopting a new mindset: Prevention vs (attempted) Remediation

Adopting to a preventative mindset will help improve your security posture. Here’s an easy guide to help you get started:

  • Make it Secure – the longer it takes to identify and deal with a cyber-attack, the bigger the cost to business; this is why it’s crucial to prevent threats in the first place. By taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity, you are closing the security gap and protecting yourself against the rapidly evolving and expanding threat landscape.

  • Implement Automation – automating your security policies can help you better manage and prevent cyberattacks, this is especially true for small businesses that don’t have the human resources or skills to navigate cybersecurity challenges. At Check Point, we provide businesses with automated security checks to help identify the gaps and assess the best solutions.

  • Make it Simple – cybersecurity doesn’t need to be daunting. Easy plug-and-play tools such as Check Point Quantum Spark SMB can be an affordable, all-in-one solution to help protect your business from the latest security threats.
  • Apply Integration – it is important to look at your systems from a holistic perspective, protecting servers, cloud applications, front-end computers, employees mobile and other devices. Unprotected endpoints expose an entire business to threats and unauthorised access, making your business as easy target. An integrated approach, combined with cybersecurity awareness training for your employees, will help you implement a Zero Trust safe approach.

Cybersecurity isn’t inaccessible, and Check Point Software offers high levels of threat intelligence to all organisations, from larger companies to SMBs. Speaking to a cybersecurity expert can help you identify your path forward to prevent cyberattacks and protect your bottom line. We also provide Incident Response via the following hotline.

Contributor bio:
Ian Raper is the Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand for Check Point Software Technologies. With over 30 years of experience in sales management, business planning and partner management in cloud, network and security, he is responsible for growing the business in the region.

For more information, see Small Business Answers guide on Internet Security

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