Hacking is the term that sends a chill down the spine of business owners across the world. Data breaches can sink a calmly cruising ship in minutes and can lead to the loss of millions of dollars. From corporate giants to small and medium-sized enterprises, the digital criminal syndicate has exploited every possible entity, and such cases are on the rise.
If you are an entrepreneur or are on your way to purchase a business for sale in Australia, then you must be aware of the burgeoning digital crime scene. According to the latest reports, cybercrime has increased by 700% in the last year in the country and has led to a massive loss of $7.8 billion. The players in this vicious game range from independent hackers to criminal consortiums backed by international governments which intend to target Australian organisations.
The Daunting Picture
Identity theft, malware, viruses, password sniffing, phishing and the likes have become common in commercial circles as the digital footprint of businesses is spreading. Organisations are being hit every day across the globe, sometimes to gain ransom and sometimes to simply destroy their systems. All industries and types of businesses can fall prey to such crimes and no business, whether big or small, is off-limits for the hackers.
The recent data theft scandal at Marriot International in the United States, which affected 500 million customers, created uproar as the hackers got hold of personal information of the hotel guests along with the credit card numbers of over 100 million customers. Back home, we have had many cases which bring us face-to-face with the vulnerability of our systems.
In June 2019, Symantec was accused of underplaying a huge cyber threat that gave access to passwords and a purported high-profile client list of Australian organisations. The company claimed that the data attacked belonged to demonstration accounts. However, this does not undermine the significance of not being prepared for the rising incidences of cyber-attacks in the country.
The Government Initiatives
In November 2018, the Government’s Chief Cyber Security Coordinator, Alastair McGibbon stated that cybercrime is the “greatest existential threat that we face today”. The attempt of the Turnbull government to boost cyber security fell short as the cyber workforce did not improve as expected during 2016-18 and government funding to promote cyber security education in Australian Universities was almost negligible.
The current Morrison government announced in April 2019 that new scholarships and recruitment programs would be initiated to advance the online security workforce. The government departments have become the focal point of such data breaches in the recent past, and this has amplified the urgency to tackle the situation. The government will be spending $50 million on workforce expansion and another $40 million on countering foreign cybercriminals.
How Do Australian Businesses Fare Against The Cyber Attacks?
A recent survey which covered close to 2000 companies in Australia revealed that 40% of the organisations did not provide any cyber awareness training to its employees. Additionally, over 50% of them had no cyber security governance in place. With the Chinese government-backed cybercrime group, AP10 (Advanced Persistent Threat) making Australian companies a soft target, this data presents a pretty grim scenario.
Countries like China, Iran, Russia and North Korea have set their sights on Australian organisations to steal intellectual property from financial, healthcare, educational, manufacturing and biotech industries. It helps them to save billions of dollars spent on research. Thus it has become imperative to prepare for cyber-attacks for businesses, and it should become a part of the risk management strategy of entrepreneurs.
AP10 has extracted classified information from corporate giants like IBM, HP and several others in the past. According to experts, it takes a long time before the hacked company realises a data breach, while the hacker can start stealing information in just a few minutes after entering their network. North Korean hackers are more inclined towards ransomware, wherein the hacker encrypts significant files and demands ransom for returning them back to the company.
Banks have been affected by phishing, which infiltrates IT systems to retrieve passwords and gain access bank accounts. Another common problem is DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) where the attacker floods the network with irrelevant request and traffic, which makes it impossible for the service to function.
These attacks not only lead to the theft of vital company information, but also compromise with the personal data of the consumers which leads to loss of sales, credibility, money, disruption in business activities and legal consequences. The theft has to be reported to the ATO, ACSC, ASIC and the Federal Police, depending upon the scale of the breach.
How To Prepare For The Cyber Threats?
According to Manish Khanna, Managing Director Business2Sell Pty Ltd, a lot of malware enters the network through the use of devices outside the secure environment of the office. With the use of Smartphones, it has become easier to remotely access data, but at the same time, it has increased the risk of bringing back viruses into the system.
Thus companies must work upon eliminating human errors and creating a robust security blanket which covers the web servers and the cloud network. Additionally, purchasing cyber liability insurance is a good way to protect your business from cybercrime.
Training your staff is another significant step towards achieving cyber security and being aware is mandatory in today’s age. Keep scanning the links being forwarded in emails to spot potential phishing attacks. To guard against DDoS, you must keep track of any spikes in traffic and check any interruptions in the system.
Also, the employees who have access to sensitive data must be monitored to catch any internal fraudulent acts. Make all your systems theft-proof by installing double authentications and firewall for all remote accessing capabilities. Also, hire cyber security experts to maintain the highest standards of digital safety.
It is quite evident that the corporate world is not equipped to handle the cyber attacks and needs to step up its security cover. If you are planning to purchase a promising business for sale in Sydney or any other region of Australia, then you must give priority to introducing a cyber security system in your organisation to safeguard its vital information.