Despite all the efforts made to create awareness for cyber threats in the UK, many businesses and agencies are still facing insurmountable challenges. Cyber activity is still one of the leading causes of business continuity disruption. Millions of Internet users are still affected by data breaches and identity theft. As a result, some businesses never recover and face closing down.

Those who use Surfshark VPN or another type of virtual private network reduce the threat of cyber-attacks significantly. However, cybersecurity risks for business in the UK continues to be a factor in business sustainability. Consider these numbers from the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018 conducted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

  • 74% of UK businesses still place cybersecurity as a top priority.
  • However, only 27% have actual cybersecurity policies in place to protect their organization.
  • 30% hired an executive to oversee cybersecurity.
  • 20% have trained their organization in cyber threats.
  • 43% experienced some cyber-attack or severe data breaches.

The average cost of a data breach for small businesses was £2,310. The average cost of a data breach for large companies was much higher, coming in at around £22,300.

Cybersecurity Risks for Business in UK
Cybersecurity Risks for Business in UK Biljana Jovanovic/Pixabay

How the Criminals Are Breaking In

Hackers are relentless in their pursuit of data. For most cybercriminals, the end game is accessing private information that ultimately leads to a bank account. Simply put, what motivates most of the criminals is money – lots of it.

What may surprise some is how hackers can break into a network. What is even more surprising is how simple it is to stop them. What are the top factors that lead to cybersecurity risks for business in the UK?

1. Human Error

As we've already seen, only 20% of companies train their employees in the best security practices. As a result, most employees have no idea how their online activity leads to a data breach. Common mistakes include:

  • Visiting websites that are not secure
  • Clicking on links in emails
  • Responding to a suspicious chat or instant message
  • Using company login information for personal use
  • Not setting up a username or password
  • Turning off or not using security software such as a VPN

While all of these may seem like obvious solutions, it is never safe to assume that employees understand cybersecurity. As cyber threats grow each year, companies must train their employees on the proper use of the Internet while at work.

2. Poor IT Hardware/Software

According to Avast, over half of all Windows PC users at work at running outdated computers. Furthermore, most users never update the hardware or software on their computers. As a result, just under 50% of all PC users still operate on Windows 7.

Outdated software is easy to hack. Why? Because it contains algorithms and protocols that hackers have already learned to get around. Also, most PCs do not come equipped with advanced security features. So, the only way to protect them from a high risk is to add a layer of security.

Many companies to turn virtual private networks, preventative detections systems, outsourced managed IT, and antivirus software to keep their networks safe.

3. Third-Party Relationships

Third parties introduce a whole new wave of security risks for companies. The recent Facebook ban on thousands of apps demonstrates that third parties can present known and unknown cybersecurity risks. Third parties can compromise business operations, private date, user information, and the structural integrity of software and equipment.

Parties most responsible for cyber-attacks are hardware or software vendors. A hacker obtains access to an account or data through the vendor software if there is no VPN to protect the computer, network, or device. Most companies automatically assume that their vendors are operating safe software. However, that is not the case.

8 Cyber Security Risks Businesses Need to Know

The most common cybersecurity risks facing companies today include:

  1. Email links from unknown or faked senders
  2. Poor username and password combinations
  3. Not following IT data policies or protocols
  4. Malware slipping into devices or networks
  5. Social media messages, downloads, or browsing
  6. Data breaches into systems via mobile devices (phone, tablet, etc.)
  7. Intelligent, well-trained, and well-funded hackers and organizations
  8. Former employees that still have access to a company network

With all the training and awareness today regarding emails, employees still click on embedded links from unknown or faked senders. Once an employee clicks on a link and visits an unsecured sight, a hacker can quickly gain access to a company's entire network. All data – including private customer information – is now vulnerable. To prevent hackers from getting past the email, companies are now turning to virtual private network services to block criminal activity and prevent a data breach. It is a viable, cost-effective solution that can keep a company safe.

Many employees have no training on how to properly set up usernames and passwords. The most common password used today is 'password.' Other common passwords include a user's name, birthday, or a simple combination of numbers like '1-2-3-4'. Companies need to improve their training methods and teach employees how to set up a proper username and password.

The most effective way to prevent cyber-attacks is by setting up strict data policies and limiting user activity on computers, phones, and tablets. For instance, companies should set up site blocks that keep employees from access social media sites, gaming sites, porn sites, or other potentially dangerous websites. Furthermore, companies can also control when and how employees log onto a server.

VPN: A Viable Solution for Cyber Security

Some business owners may not know where to start adding security to their business network. While there are lots of solutions, perhaps the strategy is installing a VPN. Companies can add VPNs to single devices or an entire system.

VPNs work by masking IP addresses so that hackers cannot identify the location of the company or device. VPNs also provide digital tunnels that protect data while it is en route to or from a company network. They also utilize encryption methods for scrambling data within the system. The bottom line: A VPN is a viable solution for cybersecurity