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*Just as oil used to be the black-gold of the 20th century, data is now one of the most valuable resources in the world – and people want to steal it.

Names, identification numbers, bank details, buying preferences – these are all targets for modern cybercriminals who are either looking to sell your data or ransom it back to you in the form of data encryptions.

Data is highly valuable

While cybercrime used to be the stuff of science fiction thrillers, it’s now a commonplace phenomenon, and yet one that not everyone is taking seriously. If you asked the average person about their firewall or antivirus, many people wouldn’t be able to give you an explicit answer about what cybersecurity actually is or why we need it so badly. And not knowing can be costly.

For example, the healthcare industry shells out an incredible $6.2 billion each year in data breaches. That’s an enormous sum, especially in the wake of the WannaCry epidemic which crippled hospital systems throughout the UK and other parts of the planet. Where does the money go to? Well, for starters there’s the investigate phase – finding out how the breach occurred and what was damaged – and that sets them back over $600k. The hospitals then have to monitor how their information is being used, deal with lawsuits from customers with jeopardized data, as well as over $5 million in lost business.

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Hacking is on the up

Because hacking and cybercrime are such lucrative industries there has been a major surge in the number of incidents affecting both large and small to medium sized organizations in recent years. In the UK alone online fraudulent activity surpassed £1bn for the first time in over five years, and it’s unlikely that this is going to slow down unless strong measures are taken. Which begs the question…

What can businesses do to protect themselves?

  • Be aware of cyber threats. The first step to take in becoming more secure online is being aware of the threats that exist online. This means making your employees more aware about online security by, for instance, ensuring they have strong passwords for their work computers.
  • Install anti-virus software. This will ensure that any threats that you do encounter can be swiftly dealt with and contained. Although malware is constantly changing so it’s advisable to keep your anti-virus software regularly updated.
  • Get access to a VPN. A virtual private network is necessary for two reasons: to maintain privacy over what you view on the internet, but also to encrypt the data sent between P2P connections, meaning that if someone was able to siphon off some of the data they’d be unable to access it due to the encryption.