Imagine running your business 100% offline – no connection to the internet whatsoever – without any email, online calls, videoconferencing, e-commerce, and social media. Hard to imagine, and sounds quite impossible? Especially if you are poised to grow your business.

Online and digital technologies just make it so much easier to reach more audiences, boost efficiency, and improve your visibility. But as you utilise the web to your advantage, you must also be ready to face cyber threats.

Keeping your cyber security up to date is a must especially if you are growing your business. Why?

Reason #1: Rising Incidence of Cyber Attacks

Did you know that cyber-attacks in Australia rose 67% from the first half to the second half of 2022?

Cyber threats are getting more pervasive and more sophisticated. Businesses of all sizes are getting affected – nobody’s exempted. Millions of stakeholders are being impacted by data breaches.

Just one cyber-attack can lead to the loss of your data, a negative reputation, and significant financial costs. It can also set you back in an epic way and derail any plans you may have for business growth.

Worried much? You don’t have to be if you’re well prepared and have a strong cyber security solution in place.

Reason #2: Protection of Sensitive Data

Does your business collect or keep customer records, financial information, or confidential data? Are your usernames and passwords safe? How would you feel if someone stole all your sensitive information?

That can be devastating for any business, so it’s essential to defend your data now using solutions that can:

  • Keep your systems safe against malware
  • Block unauthorised access with a firewall
  • Detect and prevent device intrusions

Some use Microsoft Defender especially as their business grows because it can provide the same level of protection even when the number of your devices increases. It is centrally managed, so you don’t have to manage devices individually. Defender can protect you in real time and:

  • Use artificial intelligence and machine learning for threat detection
  • Analyse the behaviour of files and processes so it can detect anomalies
  • Automatically go to work in case of threat detection
  • Raise alarms when a problem is detected
  • Provide more accurate detection
  • Receive updated threat data from all over the world

Reason #3: Maintaining Customer Trust

A study about public responses to data breaches done by the Australian National University (ANU) Centre for Social Research and Methods cited that:

  • The cost of ransomware may include the loss of customers, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC)
  • Businesses can suffer from a 5% to 9% decline in reputational intangible capital (the value of a company’s reputation) following an average data breach
  • 78% of Australians are fairly concerned or very concerned about identity theft (which may arise from a data breach)

The impact of a data breach on customers is illustrated well in the case of Yahoo, which was a phenomenal internet brand. When it was negotiating to sell the company to Verizon in 2016, Yahoo announced that they had experienced a few data breaches two years prior that affected 3 billion accounts. The sale price reportedly dropped by $350 million and had customers running to other companies like Google and Microsoft.

Your business may not be as big as those tech giants, but the point is that people are more likely to do business with a company they can trust. A good reputation attracts customers as well as investors and employees. If you are looking to grow your business, it will do you well to aim for the highest levels of data protection.

Reason #4: Compliance with Regulations

Businesses also need to have proper data protection measures to comply with laws, regulations, and policies, such as:

  • The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
  • The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth)
  • The Critical Infrastructure Protection Act 2018 (Cth)
  • My Health Records Act 2012
  • The Australian Cyber Security Strategy 2020-2023

Non-compliance with these regulations can have huge legal ramifications – with fines reaching up to $50 million. Unauthorised use or disclosure of healthcare identifiers can mean up to two years’ imprisonment. Criminal breaches of the My Health Record Act, can be penalised with up to five years’ imprisonment.

Reason #5: Ensuring Business Continuity

Downtime can cost your business greatly, especially if you don’t have a business continuity plan. After a cyber-attack, businesses are often not able to operate normally for hours or even for a stretch of weeks. For example:

  • Latitude Financials’ call centre had to shut down after a data breach. CEO Ahmed Fahour said “some functionality has been affected resulting in disruption.”
  • The student portal of Queensland University of Technology (QUT) became inaccessible after a ransomware attack, and the disruption lasted a few weeks.
  • After a network breach in 2022, Uber Technologies announced that they shut down internal communications and engineering systems.

Denial-of-service attacks can make your website impossible to access, leading to lost sales. Malware attacks can lead to downtime and loss of productivity. Data breaches can put a part of your operations on hold until you regain access to your data.

What’s the solution? A solid cyber security strategy that involves business continuity can allow you to minimise downtime in case of an attack. Coupled with an effective backup solution, your strategy should be able to mitigate the damage and speed up the recovery process.

Invest in Cyber Security Today

Six out of ten Australian organisations had planned to increase their cyber investment in 2023. Protecting your business from cyber threats is no longer an option – it is a must. Make cyber security an essential part of your business plans if you want to avoid costly data breaches, business disruptions, and nasty penalties that could arise from non-compliance.

Implement a strong cyber security strategy. Train your employees about digital protection measures. Back up your data regularly. For more information and business security advice, contact Inspired IT, the experts in cyber security solutions in Perth today.

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For more information on leveraging technology for business growth and security, download our e-Book, How to Utilise Microsoft 365 to Grow Your Business. It will provide you with a roadmap for growth and useful information about overcoming some of the challenges along the way.