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Defend your data: Breaking down the business basics of cybersecurity

Cyberattacks have riddled headlines for the last few years. New infiltrations are being reported on a daily basis and losses continue to mount as a result. A new wave of cybercrime has taken off, targeting every organization size from micro family businesses to corporate giants and everything in between. 

According to CDW Canada’s 2022 Security Study, a staggering 90 per cent of Canadian  organizations reported that they experienced a cyberattack in the past year. In addition, 73 per cent reported a data infiltration attack with a ransom demand, and 76 per cent reported repeat ransom demands.

“Every day we hear from people whose organization has been hacked. They all say the same thing: ‘I never thought it would happen to me,’” says Theo van Wyk, head of cybersecurity and solutions development at CDW Canada, a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and health care organizations. “These threats are real, and they aren’t going away.”

It is easier to unlock the door than to kick it down

Hacking has never been easier, and cybercriminals are becoming more creative with their methods. By sending fraudulent links, malicious emails or intercepting password changes, bad actors can trick a person into downloading malicious software or revealing sensitive information. Once they gain entry, hackers easily muscle their way into your entire system, overriding existing firewalls and holding proprietary possessions captive. 

“Anyone with a device is vulnerable, and every day the number of devices in use expands,” says van Wyk. “Think about the number of devices in your own home, both personal and professional – from smartphones, to laptops and tablets. These numbers multiply for bigger organizations, leaving them even more exposed as a target to cybercrime.”

How to fend for yourself

Data is currency, and this proprietary information should be your organization’s most protected possession. The web, however, is not policed, leaving organizations to fend for themselves. This means that, unfortunately, many business owners and employees find cybersecurity intimidating. However, the principles of cybersecurity are similar to those of home security. 

To help organizations be more cyber secure, CDW Canada uses its “prepare, defend and respond” framework.

To prepare, CDW Canada helps clients create a cybersecurity roadmap to address the changing risks facing your business. If something goes wrong, you need to know how you can defend what is most valuable by implementing the right technologies. Finally, you need to be able to respond to incoming threats, by knowing who to call and by having a capable team at the ready, 24-7, to rapidly regain control of your systems. CDW Canada begins with a cybersecurity assessment which analyzes an organization’s cybersecurity controls and identifies vulnerabilities in order to barricade the weak entry points. 

Be on the lookout

A comprehensive cybersecurity system begins with being able to quickly identify an incoming threat. To do this, organizations must have a well-trained team of cybersecurity experts, either internally or through a third-party provider such as CDW Canada. Similar to your home surveillance system or neighbourhood watch, cybersecurity experts are the eyes and ears of your company. These experts are trained in detecting unusual activity and invasions into the internal system, before ringing the alarm to act fast and remove them. 

Prevention is the best protection

Begin by hiding the items of value, meaning the data most essential and confidential to your organization. To determine what is most important to protect, CDW Canada starts by figuring out where the “crown jewels” are on your network and reinforcing the crucial cybersecurity around them. 

Lock the door

Locks are the most rudimentary of security measures, but are effective, nonetheless. These are the firewalls, strong passwords and multi-factor authentication systems of your organization’s internal systems that you interact with daily to keep the bad guys out. 

“When it comes to cybersecurity, it is about working smarter, so the hackers have to work harder,” says van Wyk. “I’ve said it before and I will say it again: never use a default password, don’t use the same password twice, and always use a strong password. Ensure that you’re using a unique login for each of your accounts as repeating the same passwords or using weak passwords can leave you very vulnerable.”

Be careful about who gets a copy of the key

Cybersecurity is about making small and smart choices every day, and as your digital key holders, employees are the first line of defense. CDW Canada can teach your employees on strong cybersecurity housekeeping and habits, including tips on how to identify phishing scams and untrustworthy links and how to keep your internal infrastructure secure.  

To get started and learn more about your organization’s security level, try CDW Canada’s security self-assessment tool.