Is your security compromising the availability, integrity and confidentiality of your business?
Cybercrime is on the rise, affecting vulnerable businesses across the globe.
The effects of a security breach can be catastrophic, leading to loss of reputation and possibly monetary losses as well. It is vital that organisations stay on top of cybercrime trends and ensure they are sufficiently protected against any threat, which could compromise three pillars of their business – their availability, confidentiality and integrity.
Businesses today rely heavily on the Internet and delivery of IT and network services.
Availability is essentially how ‘available’ a network is – the more downtime a network has, the less available it is. Cybercrime directly impacts how available an internet service is and can bring an entire network to its knees. Hackers can find into unprotected networks, and corrupt, shut down or otherwise disable the entire operation, from communication systems to servers to stealing or compromising customer data.
Particularly, for telecom and Internet service providers, although applicable across all industries, this can be a critical problem, which can effectively mean the end of their business. Downtime impacts their customers who may either switch to another service provider or demand recompense for loss of availability – typically according to the terms of a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Downtime, or lack of availability can also extend to damage a service provider’s customer’s business, as they are unable to meet their own customers’ needs due to lack of connectivity or infrastructure, or even loss of data and customer information security.
Automatically, disrupted or failed availability will negatively impact the other two pillars, confidentiality, and integrity.
When cyber criminals attack a network, they are typically after something; usually information on a business or person which they can use for financial gain.
Businesses that lack sufficient IT security leave their data, and that of their customers, susceptible to cybercrime attacks, which compromise the confidentiality of their information and services.
This is a terrifying thought for most businesses, however financial and insurance enterprises are at most risk; their data usually being the most sensitive. Cyber criminals find soft targets in vulnerable financial and insurance institutions as they are able to obtain financial gain directly from the “source”. With these institutions, much of the data that cybercriminals need to complete fraudulent transactions or illegally access funds that aren’t theirs are contained within the institutions’ servers or databases – easy pickings for the ill protected.
For an individual or business, loss of confidentiality means opening themselves up to theft and fraudulent activity. For the businesses, financial institutions and insurance houses whose customers are impacted, even a small breach in confidentiality can be detrimental to the continued success of the institution. Loss of confidentiality often results in a damaged reputation, lost customers and even loss of future business.
As with availability, breached confidentiality can help to bring down the other two pillars and completely ruin a business.
Cybercrime is not always for financial gain.
Often, it is for political or state funded activities such as cyber war or cyber terrorism attacks. However, even cybercrime for financial gain can have a detrimental impact, which compromises the integrity of a business, industry or even country. Critical infrastructure such as utilities – energy, water, oil and gas, nuclear plants, military installations, etc. can be impaired as a result of cyber-attacks.
Or think of a mining company that operates in high risk environments, which depends on IT services, operational technology and relay of information. A network failure or loss of data caused by a cyber-attack or breach in the operational technology services, such as surveillance, drilling, etc., leading to failure or malfunction, can lead to loss of service, interrupted operations – costing hundreds of thousands of Rands, or even loss of life and a potential ecological disaster
Cybercrime can also target military operations and have an adverse impact on military operations and thereby national security. If, for example, a cybercriminal gains access to confidential information about covert operations, or munition codes or undercover operative data.
Integrity is, perhaps, the most important of all the pillars. Where loss of confidentiality and availability can cause a business to falter, loss of integrity generally leads to complete failure. However, all three are interdependent.
Protect the pillars
Businesses, industry and government need to have a 360-degree view of their IT and OT security in order to avoid cybercrime.
In a truly connected world, with a proliferation of smart devices, IoT enabled devices and multiple access points to any network, organisations have to take pre-emptive precautions.
A Central dashboard helps companies to have a holistic view of what is happening in their organisation at any given time. Smart analytics and artificial intelligence can be effectively leveraged to pinpoint pattern deviations and help make informed decisions on where the weak points are and how to address them. Smart, integrated security systems, which utilise biometrics, encryption, advanced threat detection and more, are necessary for any business, which deals with data, which if accessed by a cyber-criminal, could compromise their operations.
When businesses are planning their security architecture, it is important to consider the impact of the current security landscape and global regulatory environment. Companies must understand the roles of global regulatory authorities such as such as the Protection of Public Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, in planning security architecture.
This adds a fourth element to the pillars of Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability, which is Data Privacy.
The recent ripples in the security landscape highlight that data and information security is closely linked to information availability, therefore security should not be treated as a standalone, or separate business requirement.
Businesses should also be considering things such as patch management, backup, eDiscovery, disaster recovery, etc. which are integral to security.
Experienced, qualified, and knowledgeable IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology) security service providers with a mature consultative approach can ensure organisations are best protected against the threat of cybercrime.