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How We Contribute to Successful Cyberattacks

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, it’s not just technological defences that need to be strengthened. While firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems play a pivotal role, there’s a subtle yet equally significant player in the game – the human factor. Here we will delve into the crucial role that humans play in the success of cyber-attacks and explore the various ways in which individuals unwittingly become cyberattack enablers.

Social Engineering: The Art of Deception

One of the most common ways cybercriminals exploit the human factor is through social engineering. Social engineers are akin to modern-day con artists, using psychological manipulation to deceive people into divulging confidential information or performing actions that compromise cybersecurity. Techniques like phishing, baiting, and pretexting all prey on human psychology and emotions to gain access to sensitive data.

Phishing, for example, relies on deceptive emails or messages that appear to be from trusted sources. They often contain malicious links or attachments that, when clicked, can lead to data breaches or malware infections. Even the most vigilant individuals can be fooled by well-crafted phishing attempts. According to IDG Research Services around 85% of successful attacks involve the human factor. AV Test stated that each day there are 560,000 pieces of malware detected.

Insider Threats: The Trojan Horses Within

Insider threats represent a unique form of human factor vulnerabilities. These threats occur when individuals with legitimate access to an organisation’s systems intentionally or unintentionally misuse their privileges. This could be a disgruntled employee seeking revenge or an unwitting team member falling victim to social engineering tactics.

Insider threats can have severe consequences, as those within an organisation often have access to sensitive data and systems. Organisations must implement robust access control and monitoring systems to mitigate these risks, all while balancing trust and employee privacy.

Weak Passwords and Poor Security Practices

Human negligence also plays a significant role in cybersecurity breaches. Weak passwords, reused across multiple accounts, or not changed regularly, create an open door for cybercriminals. Simple and easily guessable passwords are low-hanging fruit for hackers, making the job of unauthorised access a breeze.

Beyond weak passwords, failing to keep software and systems up to date, disabling security features for convenience, or leaving sensitive information on easily accessible devices can also contribute to successful cyberattacks. In essence, the lack of security awareness and best practices can inadvertently aid cybercriminals.

To mitigate the risk of credential theft it’s advisable to use multi-factor authentication.

The Role of Training and Awareness

The human factor in successful cyber-attacks is, at its core, a challenge in human behaviour and psychology. However, it’s a challenge that can be addressed through education, awareness, and training. Organisations must prioritise cybersecurity training for their employees, helping them recognise phishing attempts, understand the importance of strong passwords, and grasp the consequences of falling prey to social engineering.

Moreover, fostering a culture of cybersecurity within the workplace can go a long way in mitigating human factors in cyber-attacks. When employees understand the value of their role in protecting the organisation’s digital assets, they become active participants in maintaining cybersecurity. Sharing the guidelines and rules helps along with regular training or workshops helps your staff avoid becoming the human factor enabling successful attacks.


The human factor is a double-edged sword in the realm of cybersecurity. While it presents a significant vulnerability, it also offers an opportunity for organisations to bolster their defences. By understanding the psychology of cyberattacks, investing in training and awareness, and implementing robust security measures, you can significantly reduce the success of cyber-attacks driven by human factors.

In the digital age, cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of IT departments; it’s a collective effort that requires a united front against the threats posed by the human factor. Cybersecurity is, ultimately, as much about human behaviour as it is about technology, and recognising this is the first step toward a safer digital world.

If you’d like to learn how we at help4IT can help you stay safe, visit our website for more tips and schedule a free cybersecurity assessment.

Know Your Cybersecurity Regulations

If you’ve been playing any sport, you know that different games have different rules and regulations. The same goes for work, school, and even family life. Breaking rules leads to penalties which at times can be devastating for you. Business is no different. If you store any information about clients, customers, and staff, you have rules and regulations you must follow and comply with to stay safe and avoid potentially very serious consequences. Here we look at some of the most important cybersecurity related regulations.


Payment card industry data security standards are put in place to protect any payment card user data to keep you and your clients safe. The founding members include American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard, and Visa. Essentially, they created this standard so that banks, retail stores, online vendors, and software developers would be required to uphold the privacy of the cardholders’ information. 


HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Created in 1996, HIPAA sets regulations that secure certain health information. With the rise of technology and convenience, health industries also adopted the utilisation of online record holding. However, with so much personal information on health records, new security needs to be developed. These confidentiality rules apply to hospitals, pharmacies, medical insurance companies, health clinics, and more. Thanks to the assistance of cybersecurity companies, the above-mentioned entities can focus on their medical work and leave everything else to the experts.

General Data Protection Regulation

I’m sure you’re familiar with the GDPR aka General Data Protection Regulation. This regulation was set up to protect people’s sensitive information in general, limiting what data companies can gather and how they use it. Breaching GDPR can lead to legal consequences and potential hefty fines. To mitigate the risk of breaching the GDPR, many companies turn to cybersecurity service providers for assistance.

Need assistance with cybersecurity compliance?

These are the three most common regulations businesses of all sizes must comply with daily. If you have any questions about regulations, we at help4IT are happy to answer your questions. Feel free to contact us today.

Arranging a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

According to research by Vodafone, more than half of SMEs in the UK have experienced some form of cyberattack. Businesses large and small must take steps to improve their security postures and one of the best places to start is with a cybersecurity risk assessment.

Here we answer some of the most commonly asked questions around the assessment and how to go about booking one for your organisation.

What does a cybersecurity risk assessment involve?

A cybersecurity risk assessment is a systematic process to identify, evaluate, and prioritise potential vulnerabilities and threats to an organisation’s information systems and data. This assessment considers both the likelihood and impact of various cyber threats, with the aim to guide the development of strategies and controls to mitigate risks. The process encompasses reviewing current security measures, identifying vulnerabilities in hardware, software, and human elements, analysing potential threats from both internal and external sources, and evaluating potential consequences of a breach. The outcome provides a foundation for strengthening an organisation’s cybersecurity posture and making informed decisions on security investments.

Who performs the risk assessment?

The assessment is typically performed by cybersecurity specialists, either from an organisation’s internal cybersecurity or IT team or by external consultants with expertise in this area. As it’s usually only very large companies that have internal cybersecurity specialists, assessments are most often conducted by external consultants for smaller businesses. For larger organisations, the process may involve collaboration between various departments, including IT, legal, operations, and human resources, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the organisation’s assets and potential exposure. Whether conducted internally or externally, it’s crucial for the assessors to maintain objectivity and to prioritise the protection of the organisation’s assets and data over any other interests.

How is the scope of the assessment determined?

The scope of a risk assessment is determined based on an organisation’s objectives, regulatory requirements, and the specific assets and systems deemed critical to its operations. Key considerations include the types of data the organisation handles, the technologies and systems in use, and the specific threats and vulnerabilities relevant to its industry or sector. Input from stakeholders, such as business units, IT, legal, and executive leadership, helps to identify areas of concern or focus. A clearly defined scope ensures that the assessment is both comprehensive and relevant, allowing the organisation to effectively address its unique risks and maintain a secure operational environment.

How are assets identified prior to the assessment?

To identify assets for assessment, the assessor will start by mapping out your organisation’s critical business processes and functions. Following this, they will determine the technologies, systems, and information that support these processes. This includes physical devices like servers and computers, software applications, data repositories, and even intangibles like intellectual property or customer information. They will engage with department heads and key personnel to understand which assets are crucial for daily operations and which contain sensitive or regulated data. They will also consider assets that, if compromised, could cause reputational harm or legal implications. This holistic approach ensures you capture all essential assets that could be potential targets or vulnerabilities in the cybersecurity landscape.

How are threats identified?

Threats encompass the strategies and methods employed by cyber adversaries that could jeopardise an organisation’s assets. To pinpoint threats to individual assets, databases like the MITRE ATT&CK Knowledge Base are leveraged. Reports from security vendors and advisories are valuable for updates on emerging threats across sectors, regions, or technologies. Additionally, understanding an asset’s position within the Lockheed Martin cyber kill chain helps in determining its protective needs, as this model outlines the progression and goals of a typical cyberattack.

How are risks prioritised?

Assessors consider factors like financial loss, operational disruption, legal implications, and reputational damage as priority risk areas. They use a risk matrix to visually categorise risks based on their likelihood and impact, which aids in understanding their relative significance. After categorisation, the assessor will focus on addressing the most severe risks first, with recommendations for allocating resources effectively. Remember that risk appetite varies among organisations; what’s acceptable for one might not be for another, so any risk assessment must align with the risk priorities and unique goals of the organisation.

What is the best way to document and manage the risks?

The assessment team will set out clear documentation on the way to best manage risks. This may involve a centralised risk register or dedicated risk management software. This repository will detail each risk’s nature, its likelihood, potential impact, mitigation measures, and responsible parties. Integrating the risk management process into the organisation’s daily operations and decision-making is a key outcome of a risk assessment.

What are five main reasons I should book a cybersecurity risk assessment today?

In summary, then, the here are five key reasons you should consider booking a cybersecurity risk assessment for your organisation today.

  1. Protect Valuable Assets – Cybersecurity risk assessments help identify and protect your organisation’s most valuable assets, preventing unauthorised access, data breaches, and potential financial losses.
  2. Regulatory Compliance – Many industries are governed by regulations that mandate regular cybersecurity assessments. Non-compliance can lead to penalties, legal consequences, and reputational damage.
  3. Proactive Threat Management – The assessment identifies emerging threats and vulnerabilities, enabling your organisation to take proactive measures before a breach occurs, rather than reacting after the fact.
  4. Optimised Resource Allocation – Understanding where vulnerabilities exist helps your organisation to prioritise and allocate resources efficiently, ensuring the highest risks are addressed first.
  5. Stakeholder Confidence – Demonstrating a commitment to cybersecurity boosts trust among customers, partners, and investors, ensuring them that their data and interactions with your organisation are secure.

Book an assessment today

The help4IT team offer a range of cybersecurity solutions suited to both small and medium-sized companies as well as larger organisations. Hackers will stop at nothing to get to your valuable data, and it’s up to you to protect your business. Ignoring cybersecurity may work in the short term, but the time to be proactive is now.  Book a cybersecurity risk assessment with us today.

How You Can Improve Your Cloud Security

Moving your IT systems to the cloud has many benefits, however, hackers are looking to access your resources and data all the time. When the cloud was first introduced, simple antivirus and log aggregation systems were enough to keep you protected, but this is not the case anymore. These basic solutions won’t prevent all malicious activity from occurring in and around your network.

Today, the best protection for your organisation is a reliable SIEM solution that provides you with the protection your need from sophisticated attacks. Many organisations ask us how they know that the information stored in the cloud is safe. We use an SIEM platform that monitors all critical systems no matter where they are located. It can be applied either to your client’s site and managed remotely as SIEM Management, or it can be hosted in the cloud as SIEMaaS.

How do you know where the threat is coming from?

With most cloud services there are a lot of encryption codes and security measures taken, but these precautions can be bypassed by files being accessed by a large number of individuals or by being moved, replicated, and shared frequently. Faulting equipment, bugs, and erroneous actions can also create an opening for online hackers. With SIEM, a company’s online environment is monitored and you will be aware of any threats. 

With full visibility of your organisation’s cloud activity, we can notify MSPs within minutes of any threat posed to your cloud environment. Further, you have a team of experts that understand what the threat is and how to resolve the situation immediately. Our team gives MSPs specific instructions on what needs to be done to keep the environment safe. 
Just as SIEM Management works, SIEMaaS works efficiently in the cloud by covering multiple hosts at once. Data breaches, data loss, account hijacking, and system and application vulnerabilities are some of the threats that come from the cloud, and it is in your best interest to have a credible team of specialists on your side to recognise malicious activity. This is why SIEMaaS is an effective solution for keeping your organisation safe.

Get further advice on keeping your cloud environment safe and secure

If you’d like to learn more about SIEM and how we at help4IT can assist you to stay safe when using the cloud, don’t hesitate to contact us.

How do Cyber Breaches Affect Your Business?

In the past two decades, the way we conduct business has changed significantly and many processes are taken online. It’s not only your business slowing down that happens as the result of a data breach. It can impact your business in more ways than one. Here are a few examples of how many household names have been affected.

YAHOO! Once worth over 100Bn, it was sold to Verizon for 4.5Bn after they suffered the worst breach in their history. The company’s value dropped over 95Bn as a result of the data breaches between 2013-2014.

Marriott hotels lost 327 million users’ data ranging from name and address to banking details enabling hackers to access practically anything they wanted.

TARGET – While plenty of people love the feeling they get when they walk into this modern and clean grocery/retail store, of 110 million customers, 40 million could not stop hackers from accessing their banking data. The other 70 million are victims of their their personal data being hijacked. 
Other companies that are not listed that you are likely to recognise include JP Morgan/Chase, eBay, and Home-Depot. No matter what size business you run, you may become the next target for hackers.

Data breaches impact your company’s value, brand, and customer relationships. To thrive in a competitive world, you can’t afford to think it won’t happen to you.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Having a proper cyber security strategy and taking proactive measures to prevent attacks must be a priority for you. Ensure you have a firewall, SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) solutions and staff training are the best ways to always keep you and your customers safe. Also having strong sign-on credentials and preferably a two-step verification in place helps you protect everyone and keeps your business’s value and brand strong. Performing regular cyber security assessments are important in mitigating risks and the first steps in building a proper cyber security strategy.

Are Your Credentials For Sale on the Dark Web?

What’s a hacker’s payday? The day when an employee of an organisation picks up and plugs in a thumb drive he found on an employee parking lot giving the hacker access to sign-on credentials and the ability to deploy a malicious payload. According to research, a staggering 60% of employees did exactly that. This results in employees potentially establishing a hacker’s beachhead within the network with little to no effort. That’s where we are right now with security. Collectively, we know we should be doing more, but it never seems to become a priority—until a security event happens, at which point it is too late. 

Are your employees’ user credentials for sale on the dark web?

A critical step in understanding your overall security posture is conducting a risk assessment for the identification of unknown security vulnerabilities and defensive gaps. As part of this effort, a dark web scan can help further identify risk exposure and act as an early warning to cyber risks lurking in the shadows.  

Running a dark web scan against your email domain can provide illuminating results.   

  • One organization’s email domain uncovered 30 compromised emails, including the business owner’s login credentials for his bank account  
  • Instances of several hundred to thousands of compromised emails have been found 

The results of a dark web scan will uncover employees who may have used their business email for non-business reasons and had their credentials compromised, bringing unnecessary risk to the organisation. This is why business email addresses should never be used for non-business-related activities, and separate passwords should be used for each site or application that you use. A dark web scan will report on exposed users and tools can be set up for ongoing monitoring. This means that whenever an employee’s credentials get exposed in the future, you can be notified and take appropriate remediation measures.   

The dark web is a lot to take in, but we are here to help. To learn more, download and review our Dark Web Scanning: Understanding the Why and the How e-book. We break down what the dark web is and the threats to your business that might be hidden there. We explain the process and value of running a dark web scan for the identification of threats, and how it informs prioritization of remediation measures to better protect your business.   

Even better, give us a call, and let’s schedule a dark web scan on one of your domains today. Imagine the shock and surprise if you found your employees’ access information available for sale on the dark web. Whether you’re a large enterprise or small to mid-sized enterprise—be sure you aren’t a target for the dark web! 

Are You Monitoring Your Front Door to Check You’re Not Being Raided?

A couple of decades ago it was rather common for MSP providers to tell clients it’s enough to monitor a couple of choke points to stay safe. The reason for this was that it was extremely expensive to monitor all the devices, so the common procedure was to monitor only 1 or 2 devices.

These days it’s not enough as cyber security attacks evolve and become more sophisticated. Imagine yourself watching the front door and the thief enters from the bedroom window and kidnaps your child without you noticing. This is what happens when you focus on a couple of choke points using a traditional wired security solution which is expensive. Now, it’s more cost-effective to monitor your whole premises as you can have sensors installed in all vulnerable areas like windows and doors around your house. The same goes for cyber security. With the development of new solutions, you can cost-effectively monitor and secure all your devices at once, mitigating all your cyber security risks.

The threat can come from many sources

Where traditionally the threat comes in form of a phishing email, now hackers also use existing companies to execute their malicious plans. Just a few days ago a business consultant contacted us telling that she was contacted by a US-based company enquiring about her services on LinkedIn. The person who had either hacked into the actual marketing manager’s profile or had created a fake profile sent the consultant a folder link that seemed reliable and legit. Once the business consultant downloaded it, her cyber security system alerted her of Trojan viruses in that folder. She took appropriate action that saved her from harm being inflicted on her devices. This shows how important it is to have proper cyber security installed on your devices and how smart cybercriminals have become.

What can you do to stay safe?

It’s surprisingly common for organisations and especially for SMEs to think they won’t become a victim of a cyber-attack until they experience it. This results often in losing valuable data and in the worst case can also lead to a recovery time of weeks or even a month. So, what can you do to stay safe? If you’re already using Microsoft’s products, it’s a good idea for you to also leverage Microsoft Sentinel which is a SOC platform that gives you a bird’s-eye view across your whole organization. It detects, hunts for threats and responds accordingly, giving you peace of mind. Sentinel leverages AI in hunting and identifying cyber threats and attacks which makes it an extremely efficient tool for protecting you, your team, and your customers.

Book a cybersecurity risk assessment today.

Are You Prepared for a Cyber-Attack?

By March of this year, there had already been around 300 million breaches and attacks worldwide. This goes to show that criminals are becoming more active and leveraging different tools and strategies to get what they want. This raises the question “ARE YOU READY FOR A CYBER ATTACK”? The reason it is best to rely on a cybersecurity company is due to the fact they have teams of cybersecurity experts who have the extensive education and experience needed to combat the various types of attacks. If you have some kind of cybersecurity product installed on your network of devices, you are going to be able to prevent a good number of attacks, but without an expert that constantly reads reports and anticipates the different threats, you are at risk. Experts do not need to turn to a manual every time there appears to be a threat. Companies need a team to be on the constant lookout for things such as zero-day attacks and other unseen threats that may appear.

Just look at all the different kinds of cybersecurity companies and products that exist, it’s because attacks can come from your cloud, servers, firewalls, SDS systems, personal devices and more. With a SIEM solution, you will not only get preventative software, but real-time notifications on serious threats, not false positives. In addition, if an attack is detected, your hired team of experts will start working with you to find a solution within minutes of an attack.

What are hackers using now?

As cyber security evolves, so does cybercrime. Now hackers don’t only rely on crafting phishing emails and malicious payloads by themselves, they leverage AI to generate them. They also use alternative methods to lure business owners like you into their trap. Social media is becoming one channel they use to execute their plans. Hackers can take over a person’s account and pretend to be the person and then once initial communication has been established and they enquire about your product or service they send you a Cloud folder link that contains a virus. So, the threat can come your way from many directions. A third one is a direct hack into your system. This is a commonly used tactic, especially against governmental and public institutions but sometimes can be used against businesses as well.

What can an attack cost you?

According to Statista, the cyber-attacks cost UK businesses between 861GBP and 8040GBP depending on the size of the business. This goes to show that considering a cyber attack an accident and not being prepared can be a costly mistake. Fraudulent emails and websites were behind 80% of the attacks that resulted in financial loss for businesses. If you want to minimize the risk of suffering a financial impact due to an attack, it’s vital that you take preventative measures before it happens to you.

Do you want to mitigate your risks? Contact us today for a free initial risk assessment.

Best Ways to Mitigate Cyber Security Threats

Is the increasing number of cyber security breaches worrying you and making you lose your good night’s sleep? You’re not alone.  The fact is that cyber security breaches are on the rise and as organisations upgrade their cyber security measure, the hackers are using more sophisticated tools and strategies as well including AI. This means that in addition to implementing strict cyber security policies, you need to also take proactive measures to mitigate risks. In this article, we’re sharing the best ways how you can protect yourself and your business.

Top 11 ways to minimise cyber threats

1.   Encrypt your data and create backups. By encrypting your sensitive data you mitigate the risk of hackers accessing your valuable information because only those with permission can read it. Always back up your data so your operations aren’t affected in case of an attack or data breach. The 3-2-1 rule is ideal for ensuring you don’t lose your valuable data. What is the 3-2-1 rule? Ensure you have 3 copies of your data. Store two of them in different media and one in an offsite location that is safe.

2 .  Conduct regular staff training. According to statistics over 3,4 million phishing emails are sent globally. The links included in these emails grant access to hackers to user data that includes also login credentials. Training your staff to recognise this type of email is essential for your cyber security. Professional hackers are able to impersonate a leader of an organisation in order to gain access to sensitive information like personal details. Training your staff to check the email addresses as well as links before opening is vital for your company’s security.

3.  Keep your systems and software updated. Regular updates on your systems and software play important role in your cyber security. Updates not only add new features but also fix bugs that can pose a threat to your cyber security. Hackers exploit the vulnerabilities in software and systems by writing malicious code that affects your whole system. Using patch management system to manage all updates automatically and uphold information security helps you keep your operations running safely and effectively.

4.  Use strong passwords. Did you know that over 80% of data breaches are the result of weak passwords? Hackers need a small gap to gain access to your systems. More complex passwords combined with multifactor authentication strategies are needed to protect you from cyber-attacks. Passwords shouldn’t be shared among employees to minimize the risk of having multiple desktops hacked instead of one.  Keeping your passwords stored in an encrypted format is important.

5.  Assess and monitor your vendors. You should always onboard vendors using the correct strategies and monitor them throughout your relationship. Remember to also ascertain that your vendor will not impact your compliance with regulations, agreements and local legislation. You also need to ensure that your vendor doesn’t disrupt your operation. Finally, ensure that your vendor will not impact your ability to meet your organizational objectives.

6. Reduce your attack surface. First of all, you need to be aware of the fact that there are 3 main types of attack surfaces. The first one is the physical attack surface which includes organisational assets that a hacker can gain access to if he has physical access to your premises. The second one is the digital attack surface. These are assets that are accessible through the internet and live outside the firewall.  Your corporate servers, operating systems, forgotten website and roque assets like apps that impersonate your company.  The third attack surface is the social engineering attack surface. This surface exploits human psychology and manipulates your staff into divulging sensitive information. To mitigate your risks, you need to conduct an attack surface analysis to determine your threat landscape.

7. Pay close attention to physical security. It’s not enough that you make risk assessments and security policies for digital assets. Imagine if someone broke into your premises and stole your data. Perform thorough risk assessments.

8.  Put a Killswitch in place. Most cyber criminals don’t bother to cover their tracks, so have your IT department analyse all your security logs frequently and audit cyber security framework audits to ensure everything is always running smoothly. But, what does Killswitch have to do with your security? A killswitch is a form of protection where your IT security team shuts down all systems immediately when a threat is noticed until the issue is resolved.  This is to prevent large-scale attacks from succeeding.

Did you know that around 94% of organizations suffered from a cyber security breach that came from the inside instead of outside? Be sure to screen your new staff and existing staff to ensure that they don’t pose a threat to your company. However, most malicious firewall and malware attacks are the results of human error. Emphasise the importance of safeguarding sensitive information and taking appropriate measures to keep data safe at all times. Negligence is the most common form of cyber security threat for any organization.

9.  Install firewalls. Having a firewall is vital for your cyber security. However, it’s not enough that you have a basic one installed. When choosing a firewall, ensure that you have full security control and visibility of your application and networks. It should also have protection and prevention capabilities as well as a streamlined security infrastructure to be effective.

10. Create a secure cybersecurity policy for your company. Your cybersecurity policy should include disaster recovery, access control and management, security testing, an incident response plan and a clause related to data mishandling and the legal steps that are to be followed if there is mishandling of data or other form of negligence.

11. Update the board at least quarterly on cyber security policy and changes. Your board of directors need to be updated regularly on the cyber security policy and any changes. Cooperation and sharing important information are vital in keeping your company safe.

Contact our IT security team

If you don’t have an in-house IT consultant or department, it is advisable to outsource this to a provider who can offer you all the services and support you need to stay safe. Data breaches and other cyber attacks can cause you not only financial loss but also harm your reputation in the long run.

Are You Safe? 2023 is Seeing a Rise in Cyber Security Threats

We all want to ensure that our data is safe at all times. However, the current geopolitical situation and also economic crisis are contributing to an increase in cybercrime. According to 39% of UK businesses identified an attack in 2022, the most common threat vector was phishing attempts (83%). Of the 39%, 21% identified a more sophisticated attack type like denial of access, data deletion or data corruption.

Statista interviewed businesses on the frequency of attacks and  21% had recorded an attack once, 27% were attacked less than once a month, 18% fell victim once a month where 15% experienced an attack once a week, 8% once or several times a day and 3% didn’t know if they had been attacked.

Now, these numbers may not tell you much but the latest update by IT governance show that 2023 is seeing a rise in different types of attacks.  In January alone there were 277 million data breaches and cyber-attacks, by March the number was around 300 million data breaches and cyber attacks in total this year.

How does this affect you?

Data breaches and cyber attacks can be devastating for any business. When a data breach happens you lose invaluable data that can put not only you and your staff at risk but also your customers. Another scenario is that the hackers leak the data or sell it forward which results in compromising your operations and your customers’ security. Both scenarios result often in financial loss and damage to brand and customer relationships.

The impact of cyber attacks on your business varies from halting operations to denying access to programs, email or even computers. According to Statista, 70% didn’t require any recovery time at all after a cyber attack. However, 8% recorded disruption of less than a week and 1% recorded a recovery time of over a month.

The increasing volume of data breaches and cyber attacks indicates that cybercriminals are forming new cartels constantly and combining their skills to perform more sophisticated and disruptive attacks. Ransomware and phishing are the most common types of cyber attacks. With ransomware, the criminals aim to force the victim to pay them to get the data back that is corrupted or deleted. Phishing attacks on the other hand are emails and messages with malicious payloads through a link that then releases a virus to your computer or takes control.

The new concern by cyber security providers is also that AI is being used to generate legit-sounding phishing emails with a malicious payload. Criminals without advanced coding skills can generate these emails if they manage to bypass the filter of ChatGPT. 

What can you do to protect yourself?

Where a decade ago it may have been enough to have a functioning firewall and spyware installed on your computer, today these are not enough. If you want to mitigate the risk of data breaches and cyber attacks, you need to ensure that you audit your data protection and cyber security strategy quarterly. You also want to have a regular risk assessment performed to find the weaknesses so you can mitigate risks. Keep your board of directors updated quarterly on cyber security measures and policies. Remember, access controls are vital for your business, you don’t want to give access to outsiders by accident. Training your staff is also important because they perform multiple tasks daily with computers. When your staff knows how to ensure safe working, they will perform better. If you don’t have an in-house IT department or consultant, you may want to consider outsourcing IT services to a reliable IT service provider that provides all the essential support you need from audit to integrations and migration to cyber security.

ChatGPT Saviour of Customer Experience or a Cyber Threat?

Chatbots are something we run into daily. They provide initial assistance and are often the first ones to
engage with us when visiting a website. However, whether they are new extensions to our team, or a
serious security threat is a continuous debate. In November 2022 Open AI introduced the most
developed chatbot called ChatGPT, an AI chatbot capable of having more advanced and natural
conversations and answering questions in more detail than basic chatbots.

ChatGPT sounds like a great solution for improving customer experience, right? With its over 175 billion
parameters language model, conversational design that is also multitasking, contextual and personalized
by training on specific datasets it sounds like the perfect customer support, especially with the open
source that enables developers to modify it to suit specific needs. However, not everyone is excited
about the new assistant. Many IT service providers and especially cyber security specialists aren’t very
excited about ChatGPT.

Does ChatGPT pose a threat to cyber security?

The short answer would be yes. Just like any software or app, ChatGPT can be used for good purposes
and cybercrime. Check Point tested if ChatGPT could be used to generate a sophisticated phishing email
and malicious code and they could. What does this mean for businesses that often are targeted by cyber
criminals through phishing emails? If you want to minimise the risk of being on the receiving end of
cybercriminal activity, it is of utmost importance that you take precautionary measures including having
professional support and an up-to-date data protection strategy. You shouldn’t rely on basic protection
such as a firewall, even though it is considered a good protection. You should always avoid opening
messages that include links from senders you don’t know.

Even though the test conducted by Check Point and also TechCrunch showed that basically anyone can
create a basic phishing email with malicious payload in it with help of this chatbot, it’s not a security
threat by itself. It’s as safe or as dangerous as its user.

Is ChatGPT safe to use?

Yes, it is. Generally, ChatGPT is safe to use when you ensure that you comply with the laws and
regulations, take appropriate security measures such as access controls and program the chatbot to
detect and flag malicious and fraudulent text. ChatGPT doesn’t ask for personal information or spread
false information on its own. It also audits the requests and provides answers that are relevant. If a
person asks ChatGPT to do something illegal, it will refuse the request.

I’ll quote ChatGPT itself on the impact of ChatGPT on cyber security. “Ultimately the impact of ChatGPT
on cyber security will depend on how it is used. It is important to be aware of the potential risks and to
take appropriate steps to mitigate them.”

How can you benefit from ChatGPT?

During and after lockdown, businesses have had to come up with an effective way to respond to
enquiries and also support requests. With ChatGPT your prospective customers as well as existing
customers can access 24/7 support and get answers that are relevant to their issues. This in turn helps
you to build a more positive and personalized customer journey and experience.

ChatGPT isn’t here to take over your business or the jobs, it was designed to help you provide better
service to your own customers which leads to a better customer experience. If you take needed
precautionary measures, your data and your clients’ data aren’t endangered.

ChatGPT helps you take some of the workload off the customer supports shoulders freeing up time and
enabling them to focus on the most urgent and more complicated support requests. As result, you’ll
have happier employees and customers who are more likely to stay with you and recommend you to
their network.

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