Once upon a time, cyber security was something that only large companies with international supply chains and offices in multiple locations had to worry about. Today, with over 95% of Australian small to medium enterprises (SMEs) using the internet for some part of their business transactions, those days are long behind us. In 2020, cyber security is something that all business owners must be mindful of, regardless of whether they employ one person or one hundred.
Of particular concern is the growing number and diversity of data theft threats that plague Australian SMEs. In 2019, Smart Company reported that an astounding 78% of Australian SMEs are targeted by cyber criminals in one way or another. The main goal of these criminals? To gain access to sensitive data ranging from financial information to supply chain details and security credentials for site and database management systems. In some cases, cyber attackers may even seek to sabotage SMEs through DDOS attacks or the installation of spyware.
Data theft and other cyber attacks can result from a number of vulnerabilities in company IT security, ranging from weak firewalls to stolen or misplaced laptops. Whichever the case, data theft has the potential to seriously disrupt business operations and cause significant reputational and financial harm. To explain the threat posed to SMEs by data theft and highlight how encryption can minimise this, we’ve partnered with the cyber security experts at ESET. From encryption to anti-theft software, read on to discover how to protect your business from data theft today.
How does Data Theft Occur?
As noted above, corporate data theft can be carried out in a number of ways. In Australia, businesses perceive three main sources of attacks: Activists, insiders, or foreign nationals. In all cases, aggressors gain access to purportedly secure networks and databases using stolen credentials, malware, or phishing scams. In the case of “insider attacks”, the aggressor is known to the SME, and may take the form of a disgruntled former employee, customer, direct competitor, or individual with personal ties to the company.
Notably, data theft can also occur as a result of the physical theft of a laptop, computer, or mobile device. For this reason, it is essential to maintain good physical oversight of all hardware, in addition to taking the software-related steps outlined below.
Once a cyber attacker has gained access to their desired network or database, they are then able to view, copy, or modify confidential information including but not limited to:
- Financial records
- Intellectual property including designs, marketing plans, and patent applications
- Employee records
- Email exchanges
- Business plans
How can Encryption Protect Businesses from Data Theft?
One of the first lines of defence in preventing data theft is implementing encryption across all company data. In short, encryption is a cyber security measure by which text is scrambled to make it unreadable to users without the relevant security credentials. Known as ‘ciphertext’, this scrambled text can be used to protect everything from files in cloud storage to entire computer disks and individual USB drives.
On a more granular level, data encryption falls into three main categories that correspond with the size of your business and database.
- Individual file and folder encryption, which encrypts selected, individual items. This is suitable for SMEs with a small number of files on their devices or network.
- Volume encryption, which groups desired files together in a folder or volume, and encrypts them as a whole. This is suitable for SMEs that have a significant, yet not necessarily large, number of files in storage.
- Full-disk or whole-disk encryption, which encrypts the entire contents of a desktop computer or device. Ideal for large companies in which operations are almost – if not all- entirely digital, this requires use of an encryption key to gain access.
How can you Encrypt your Data?
Investing in data encryption software from a reputable source is one of the easiest ways to encrypt your data and protect it from theft. Particularly as remote working arrangements gain popularity, it’s a good idea to consider downloading encryption software for both desktop computers and laptops and mobile devices.
ESET’s Full Disk Encryption is a holistic data encryption software for businesses concerned with data theft, and can help you comply with evolving data protection laws and regulations. By installing this all-in-one encryption software, you can monitor your machines remotely, and encrypt all data on your Windows computers.
Protect your Business from Data Theft Threats
As business operations are increasingly conducted online and within the digital marketplace, businesses of all sizes need to be mindful of the risk of corporate data theft. SMEs and large corporates alike should understand how data theft occurs, and how to encrypt data to reduce vulnerability to attack.
For encryption software you can trust, we recommend ESET’s Full Disk Encryption, an all-in-one solution for company-wide data encryption. To learn more about the software and whether it is suitable for you, get in touch with ESET today!