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What is cybersecurity and is it essential?

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o understand cybersecurity, you should first be aware of what cybercrime is. In simple words, cybercrime is any kind of crime carried out using computers. For instance, a person who uses the internet as a medium to steal your money is a cybercriminal, and their crime can be defined as a cybercrime.

Cyberattacks come in many forms. Phishing, the most common type of cybercrime, involves the theft of private information via email scams. Malware, a portmanteau of words malicious and software, is another popular tool designed by cybercriminals that is used to gain unauthorised access to computer systems and networks. Malware comes in many forms, such as ransomware, spyware, viruses, trojan horses, worms, adware, scareware, wiper, and rogue software. It is essentially a software program designed to harm a computer system or network. After infecting a system and gaining access, malware can perform various operations such as erasing, encrypting or stealing data. Although cybercrime poses a threat to everyone, be it an individual or an organisation, enterprises are more vulnerable for the simple reason that they stand to lose way more than an individual would.

Data is the electricity powering the business world today. It's the fuel that drives business growth. It's the medium that makes efficient communication and productive collaboration a reality. The invention of the concept “big data”, which then went on to spawn fields such as data science and business analytics, has radically changed the way that business is conducted. The term "big data" describes gigantic amounts of data that are so huge that they are measured in terabytes or petabytes. These enormous mountains of data are generated by both business and customer activity. They are then put through artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to be translated into actionable insights. In other words, businesses today are reliant on data for the most minor of day-to-day tasks. Today, businesses have the resources to take measured, well-thought-out, and fact-based decisions supported by insights derived from data analysis. It is also easier for businesses to find root causes and fix operational errors with higher efficiency, thanks to data analytics. 

The various roles of data don't end here. On the contrary, the capabilities of data only seem to be limited by human imagination. Data can also help businesses understand themselves and their performance better. It also helps them improve processes, understand their customers, and enhance customer relations. With data analytics, businesses can also track new customers, increase customer retention, improve customer service, upgrade marketing efforts, and predict sales trends. 

This dependability on data for almost all business operations in today's atmosphere doesn't fare well for the businesses that have a lack of cybersecurity. Any disruption to the seamless flow of the data would be incredibly detrimental to these businesses. 

By now, it's crystal clear why cybersecurity is an imperative necessity for businesses of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. Cybersecurity is a set of tools, techniques, and practices exercised to protect and defend data. A threat to business continuity is not the only thing that a cyberattack is, it's also a danger that possesses great potential to cause devastating financial and reputational loss.

Today's cybersecurity threats have been accelerated by a multitude of new factors. The COVID-19 lockdown has made concepts such as Work from Home (WFH) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) the norm, significantly increasing and diversifying the number of endpoints for hackers to infiltrate. Additionally, 5G is expected to increase the bandwidth of internet of things (IoT) devices, making them more vulnerable to cyberattacks. According to official statistics by cyber security breaches survey 2021, security breaches have significantly increased in the last year for large and medium-sized businesses in the UK. The report also stated that businesses are experiencing attacks at least once a week. Moreover, it revealed that small businesses are failing to adequately protect themselves from cyber threats. 

Now, seeing how crucial data is to businesses and how vulnerable it is to threats in today's evolving cyberspace, cybersecurity should be every business' top priority. But is it possible for a business to get fixated on cybersecurity more than it's necessary to be? Can the necessity for cybersecurity be really overstated? Can too much focus on cybersecurity hinder other areas of business? Below is a detailed, fact-based discourse on whether cybersecurity concerns can be exaggerated.

Here's what the stats say: 

In a survey conducted by Accenture, 68% of business leaders reported that they felt cybersecurity risks are progressively increasing.

A report by Varonis also found that in 53% of companies, over 1,000 sensitive files are open to every employee to access, and that in 15% of companies, more than 1 million folders are accessible to every employee. The report estimated that every employee has access to 11 million files.

Although it's an irrefutable fact that both awareness and expenditure on cybersecurity has significantly increased over the past few years, the stats make it abundantly clear that there is still work to be done. If anything, the stats show that most businesses are still incredibly vulnerable and lack proper planning, prevention, and a response plan to cyberattacks. 

Potential drawbacks of excessively rigid cybersecurity policies:

An impenetrable and robust stance against cyberthreats is an essential business feature today. However, too strong of a focus on cybersecurity can potentially be detrimental to other business operations. 

One reason for this is that a dedicated IT team, whether hired by an IT solutions firm or employed directly, can become overburdened when enterprises fail to understand that cybersecurity is a collaborative effort. When you put all your company's IT duties on a single team, it's natural for the team's working capacity and efficiency to become affected. Enterprises should instead aim to educate their employees and help them understand their role in the grand scheme of things.

It is a well-understood and well-established fact that human error causes 95% of cybersecurity breaches (Cybint). Due to this, it would be more logical for enterprises to invest in cybersecurity awareness training for their employees rather than impose all cybersecurity and IT responsibilities on a single team. Cybersecurity awareness training programs can help employees understand and spot cyber threats which will help enterprises to avoid cyberattacks. 

Another possible side effect of an overly aggressive approach to cybersecurity is agility interruption. The more layers of security you add, the more layers of protection your employees will have to pass through in order to complete the most basic of business operations. In the long run, this is sure to harm innovation and agility in your company. A practical solution to this issue would be to identify threats that your business actually faces and prioritise defence against them. 

Conclusion:

Although cybersecurity in itself isn't a threat to productivity and agility, your approach to it can make it less effective or potentially detrimental to other business operations. You can overload your IT staff with too much work that impedes their efficiency and makes them less competent. Or you can impose needlessly strict security protocols to make your IT systems extremely rigid.  

While talking about cybersecurity, you as a business must understand that it's not something that can be dealt with separately. Every business decision should be made with its cybersecurity implications in mind.

Understanding your cybersecurity needs can be a task that requires experience and knowledge. At Gemraj Technologies Ltd, we can help. Our experts can build up a defence that protects your digital assets without interrupting your business flow. We understand the importance of agility in today's cut-throat and ever-changing market. Businesses need to be scalable and offer services that can strike the perfect balance between security and flexibility.

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