Global cyberattacks and vulnerability threats are increasing every day. Just look at some of the recent headlines where companies like Marriott International, Equifax, and Target were impacted by hackers and data breaches, compromising technology and infrastructure for major companies, as well as personal information for over 3 billion people. With these breaches, everything from social security numbers to birth dates to credit/debit card numbers are now in jeopardy. In addition to the loss of confidential information, costs associated with crimes such as these are expected to quadruple, with CNBC reporting last year that the “pandemic” may have cost the world as much as $600 billion.  

Cybercrime can affect any business in any industry, but it is proving to be a never-ending challenge for telecommunications as the landscape continues to broaden in response to new technology and shifting consumer demands (think 5G wireless networks and the widespread use of smartphones). Although the retail, healthcare, and financial sectors have experienced the brunt of recent attacks, telecom remains particularly vulnerable. As we continue to rely on mass communications as a culture, the possibility of large-scale data breaches and even catastrophic damage to infrastructure is a serious concern.    

To give you an idea of how wide-reaching cybercrime can be, the University of Maryland has estimated there will be a cyberattack every 39 seconds. Additionally, 43% of cyberattacks will target small businesses and global cybercrime is expected to exceed $2 trillion. Concerns are becoming so prevalent that recent Gallop research found that more Americans are worried about cybercrime than violent crimes, including terrorism, being murdered, or sexually assaulted.

Whether you're an independent company or a large business with multiple locations, now is the time to start thinking about solutions you can implement to secure your business and ward off the potential for unwanted hackers. Not only are your customers at risk, but viruses can slow devices to a crawl and make work almost impossible. Enacting comprehensive protection ensures your business stays ahead of the game and is not at risk from potential threats from ransomware and adware.

 

Conduct a Security Assessment

The technological landscape of most businesses can change drastically over the course of a year. It is important to designate a specific time annually to conduct a security assessment of your infrastructure, devices, software, and anything else your business relies on day-to-day to stay connected. Aging equipment and neglecting to keep software updated is one of the most common ways a network can be compromised. Once an assessment is complete, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re working with and the steps you should take for the future.   

 

Invest in Endpoint Security Protection

One of the best ways to prevent cyber-attacks is to invest in a comprehensive endpoint security protection plan. Although it is often confused with antivirus software, which generally scans, detects, and removes viruses from a single PC, endpoint protection is wide reaching and covers the network as a whole. With today’s technology, a variety of devices, including laptops or smartphones, are connecting to a network at any given time. Endpoint protection acts as an all-encompassing tool to protect your entire network and employs other applications such as device management and intrusion detection.    

 

Multifactor Authentication Is a Must

Whether logging into your bank account or setting up a new password to access your email, you have most likely encountered multifactor authentication at least once in the last week. Multifactor authentication is the process of verifying an online user’s credibility by validating two or more claims presented to the user in a variety of forms. This can range from entering something a user knows like a special code or password to retrieving a passcode sent via text or app to scanning a fingerprint. As it’s becoming more commonplace and accepted by the public, multifactor authentication is a worthwhile tool to consider keeping data secure and protecting your company.

 

Back Up to the Cloud

We all know that cloud computing is an efficient way to back up data and can reduce costs, but did you realize it can be one of your best defenses against cybercrime? Some of the main providers of cloud solutions, such as Microsoft or Amazon, have made significant investments in securing their infrastructure from potential hackers. Although it is impossible to prevent all threats, you are much safer using a cloud platform for your core business than maintaining your own infrastructure. When a premises uses a unified cloud, IT professionals are able to approach network security threats more efficiently and as they happen.     

 

Create a Security-Focused Workplace Culture   

We tend to think of cybercrime as something that is inevitable, but in many cases, employees are the culprit because they do not understand how their actions could leave the company vulnerable to a cyberattack. Consider dedicating time for professional development to educate your team about cybersecurity best practices. Providing simple tips for updating passwords and education on evolving threats can make a big difference in getting people to think differently about their online habits and cybersecurity due diligence.  

With the number of cyberthreats reaching new highs, it is likely everyone in the telecommunications community will have to deal with cybersecurity issues at some point. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, incorporating just a few of these suggestions can yield positive results. This week, as we focus on innovations in telecom technology, take a few moments to explore ways you can approach cybersecurity and get positive results.