The pandemic forced all businesses from the giant corporations to the smallest family-owned organizations to shift their operations from in-office to remote environments. The work-from-home model came fast and hard as employers and employees scrambled to figure out how to conduct business from home using personal computers, smartphones, and any device that could get online fast and not disrupt workflow. As IT departments rushed to set up security measures for various locations and workstations, cyber criminals found an opening to disrupt these businesses and do a lot of damage.
Cyber threats increased 64% from 2019 to 2020, according to a recent study by Mimecast, an enterprise security leader. Many organizations were unprepared for the demand remote work environments placed on them and had to work on the fly to help employees set up their workspaces, create networks, and secure these environments. Adding to that, the number of personal devices they had to support was nearly impossible to measure, leaving a huge vulnerability in their security efforts. The majority of the recent cyberattacks were implemented through email. These include ransomware attacks that steal and hold important enterprise information for a price, phishing emails that lure users to send money or defraud the recipient of money, spoofing emails that make fraudulent use of a company’s brand to deceive the recipient, and data leaks or brand exposure emails that take company information and use it fraudulently. Most of these types of emails have been innocently opened by the end user and wreaked havoc on company networks.
The good news is many businesses recognized their vulnerabilities quickly and began working to find solutions to secure their digital workforce and prevent future attacks.
Cox Business has partnered with Mimecast through RapidScale, a Cox Business global managed cloud services provider (MCSP), to give businesses — especially small to medium-sized businesses — a strong digital toolkit of defenses against cyber threats that aim to endanger communities and companies.
Mimecast’s Senior Security Strategist, Jeremy Ventura and Rapid Scale’s Product Marketing Lead, Chris Pierdominici, are working together in this partnership to give businesses the solutions they need to continue to support their remote workers, while setting up barriers of protection to keep cyber criminals out.
They both discussed how many of the vulnerabilities to security are with the end user, who is often susceptible to the malicious emails that appear in their inboxes and the many ways to help them avoid clicking these suspicious links.
Security Begins with Training Protocols
The Mimecast study showed that employees are three times as likely to click on malicious emails as they did before the pandemic in today’s world. The study also showed that user behaviors such as careless web browsing, oversharing of company information on social media, inadvertent data leaks, and poor password hygiene, put companies at greater risk. Much of this can be avoided with proper training and work protocols put in place. Yet, even with all these threats, data shows that only one in five companies offer ongoing cybersecurity training in place.
“Because of this, users are three times more likely to actually click on suspicious links,” Ventura said.
Ventura suggested implementing regular security awareness training will improve end-user accountability and responsibility. Providing information on how to spot malicious emails is important in these training sessions. He recommends they be frequent, fun and interactive.
“Adding gamification can engage users,” said Ventura, who suggested skills tests and running phishing simulations to give employees hands-on training that will translate well in real world situations. “This can really help reduce and mitigate the risk to an organization”
Get Ahead of Attacks by Being Proactive with Security Measures
Email security is also an issue with a reported 13% of companies not securing their emails, according to Pierdominici.
“I think COVID was a wake-up call for organizations in many ways,” Pierdominici said. “Whether you’re talking about a small business or the biggest enterprise, many, for too long have been reactive to their security postures, oftentimes implementing measures that were progressively becoming less and less effective. COVID forced them to become more proactive, moving forward with security measures.”
Being proactive means looking at security across the board and getting ahead of the game when it comes to the needs of the end users, network solutions, infrastructure, and even cost.
RapidScale helps companies with these proactive issues such as securing the landscape, managing detection tools, and deploying response solutions, so companies can prevent and contain threats before they spread.
Understand your Risk
For many small or midsize companies, investing in proper security tools may seem like an expensive expenditure. However, when calculating the return on investment, next to the risk of a cyberattack, investing in security pays off. For instance, imagine a manufacturing company falls victim to a cyberattack and their plant is forced to shut down. The company will have to calculate the costs of a shut down, including how it will affect the supply chain, not to mention the costs associated with ransomware that could cripple even the most financially sound institutions.
“It goes back to the question, do organizations know where their assets are?” Ventura said. “Do they have the right security controls in place?”
Invest in AI Solutions
Automated security solutions can help detect suspicious emails and create alerts that help users refrain from opening them. Color codes, coded banners, and marked emails within inboxes are some of the ways these AI functions help detect possible email threats.
As more automated security measures are implemented to find and track threats, they will also alleviate the strain on many IT departments, giving them time to stay in front of risks and be proactive in their security measures.
Rolling Out Better Solutions and Increased Security
Both Ventura and Pierdominici noted business size matters when looking at security solutions, and a one-size-fits-all strategy is not always the answer for every organization. Service providers like RapidScale can help businesses of all sizes create a security plan that works for their specific needs and protect them by deploying and managing the optimum mix of proven security solutions, like those that Mimecast offers. As longtime partners in cybersecurity, Mimecast and RapidScale have more than 500 installs of Mimecast’s security offerings, protecting more than 100,000 users, adding more implementations every month.
“We’ve seen a lot of success and a lot of happy customers,” Ventura said. “Which makes everybody happy.”
Pierdominici added, “Businesses face enough challenges these days, without having to wrestle with security breaches on top of that. RapidScale’s implementation of a solution like Mimecast can be a powerful frontline protection for businesses to improve their security posture in a short space of time.”