Digital technology has exploded and now most Canadian companies are at least somewhat dependent upon the Internet. The Internet has allowed companies to reach into new markets and marketing platforms, such as HubSpot, allow companies to nurture leads and serve customers online. Social selling is the hottest new way to promote your brand. Even if you don't have a big web presence, chances are that you use the Internet for scheduling, payroll, banking, purchasing supplies or internal communications. Most companies in Canada use the Internet, which means that most Canadian companies are vulnerable to the costs, headaches, and reputational issues that go hand-in-hand with being a victim of cybercrime.
Whether your business is in a larger city like Toronto, Montreal or Ottawa or a smaller town like Fredericton or Red Deer, you need to think about protecting your brand from hackers and other cybercriminals. A breach of your cybersecurity may be very expensive and it can also inflict real damage on your brand's reputation. Clients are much less likely to want to give you their email address or financial information if they think you are cyber sloppy. The three pillars of cybersecurity are:
- Maintaining the confidentiality of your data,
- Maintaining the integrity of your data, and
- Preserving the availability of your data.
The most common cyber risks are associated with ransomware. As the name implies, ransomware holds all of your files or a select number of your files hostage until you pay a ransom. The most common way to be infected by ransomware is via a spear-phishing email. Spear fishing emails are emails that appear to be from a legitimate source, eg a bank, courier company or even from within your own company. These emails prompt you to click a link or download an attachment. The action of clicking the link or downloading the attachment allows malware to enter your computer. Eventually, your computer screen will look garbled and you will get a message asking you to pay up in order to get your data back.
In the aftermath of a cyber incident, your first steps should be two-fold.
1. IT Support
First, contact an IT support services company. They can review your system and help protect you from future attacks. There are many different IT support service firms, such as Toronto's Consolidated IT.
2. PR Outreach
Your second step should be to start a PR outreach campaign to assure your clients and customers that you are taking every step possible to increase your cybersecurity. Your professional reputation and brand can survive a single cyberattack but it will suffer immeasurably if you let it happen a second time.
Cybercriminals are crafty and they can put a lot of preparation into their attacks. Also, the attacks are sophisticated. It's easy to become a victim. There are some best practices to follow that will reduce your chances of being a victim of cybercrime and thereby protecting your brand and reputation.
Best Practices to Protect Your Brand Against Cyberattacks
- Run a security awareness campaign for your staff. This is the single most important thing you can do to protect your brand. An increased awareness of attacks such as spear-phishing emails, ransomware, malware and computer viruses will go a long way to keeping your company safe.
- Never download or click on anything in an unsolicited email.
- Always update your software. Major software producers regularly release patches intended to increase security.
- Purchase and deploy good quality security software. Be careful to choose a reputable company as some cybercriminals disguise themselves as ant-virus software developers.
- Ask your staff to use complex passwords.
- Arrange for an IT support services consultation. A little prevention can go a long way.
Your brand and your reputation are vital for the goodwill of your company. A great reputation can takes years to build and minutes to destroy. Plan ahead and be safe.