When most people think of cybersecurity, they think of passwords, two-factor authentication, or one of those websites that sends a text message with a code before you can log in and do anything meaningful. However, there’s a lot more to it than that, especially for business owners.
With an increasing number of employees working from home or otherwise from outside the office, protecting sensitive data has never been more critical for businesses of all types, no matter the size.
Even Small Businesses Can Benefit
Imagine a small online retailer that specializes in making and selling shelf-stable cookie dough. We’ll call them “Edna’s Ready-to-Bake Cookies”. It becomes moderately popular after going viral on TikTok and, due to an increase in demand, the price goes up and everyone is trying to figure out the secret ingredients that make Edna’s cookies so good.
Without proper cybersecurity measures in place, a hacker could enter the company’s web server and find the recipe. He attempts to blackmail the company by demanding $500,000 in Bitcoin be sent to his wallet or he’ll reveal the secret ingredients. The company pays, but because his cybersecurity is top-notch and he hasn’t been identified, he takes the money and reveals the secrets anyway.
Edna’s Cookies sales drop off drastically when everyone learns that the secret ingredients are coconut oil and nutmeg and they can make the perfect replica at home for half the price. The company then tries to change the recipe but eventually goes out of business because the new cookies aren’t as good as the old ones.
In this case, a good firewall and proper encryption could prevent the problem. According to the federal government’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, 47% of American adults have had their personal information leaked online by hackers and one out of every three homes with a computer has malicious software.
Now, let’s say Edna’s Cookies has a good firewall and there’s no data theft from the outside. However, imagine a loner employee who doesn’t have any friends among his work colleagues and doesn’t have a good relationship with his supervisor. He spends most of his time online, talking to people on Twitter or Reddit.
Imagine he goes on Reddit one day and sees a thread titled “What’s the biggest secret everyone should know about your workplace?” He creates a new account that can’t be tied back to him and replies to the thread by saying he works for Edna’s Cookies and then he copy-and-pastes the recipe from the file on his work computer, which is then picked up the media and the secret is out yet again. According to cybersecurity expert Guy Bunker, internal leaks are a much larger problem than hackers.
A potential solution here would be employee monitoring software that could not only show that he was the responsible party, but would have alerted management that he was spending too much time on social media during work hours in the first place, which would have led to increased supervision and/or a more personal relationship with his boss, which would have prevented him from making the post.
In our final illustration, it isn’t the recipe that’s at risk. However, an angry group of Twitter users decide that they’re tired of hearing about Edna’s Cookies because every obnoxious meme account on the website makes five posts about them a day and they’ve had enough. They coordinate a plan to execute a directed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the website, which makes it (and, by extension, the online store) unavailable.
No one can buy the cookies now because the website has been taken offline and Edna’s Official Online Shop is the only place where they’re sold. The company has to create a new website, change all of its advertising to reflect the new web address, and hope everyone can find it. If they can’t, they may have to start selling on Amazon or another service that will take a bite out of the profits and may eventually end up going out of business.
Summary and Conclusion
Cybersecurity is important for both individuals and companies of all sizes. It may not be a cookie recipe, but personal or financial data, new product designs, or an upcoming sales promotion being leaked intentionally or unintentionally could be disastrous for the company and its employees. By taking proper precautions, that information can be protected and disaster can be avoided.