Cybercrime Rises Globally and in Malta: How to Protect Your Business

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Cybercrime is on the rise globally and seems to have become a very appealing way for criminals to make quick money by stealing information and extorting businesses. More and more hacking incidents come to light each day, indicating that businesses of all types and sizes are under threat. Where does cyber crime come from, and how can you protect your company?

How to protect your business against hackers

As the Internet has become a routine tool for enterprises, which tend to host and exchange valuable data online, the risk of falling victim to hackers has become critical, which means that installing security tools is necessary for every company. Yet, implementing a sound cyber security strategy is no easy feat. A company must first evaluate its assets, understand its vulnerabilities, and identify potential entry points for malicious attacks in order to protect itself properly. Then it can proceed with drawing up a tailored plan that will take these vulnerabilities into account. Training your employees is of paramount importance, as is hiring the right IT experts to take care of your company.

But as hacker attack vectors become more sophisticated, it is important to also invest in more tailored security solutions, like data anonymization or implementing data masking solutions for sensitive data. Data masking is the process of hiding information by changing it into fictional yet realistic data to reduce exposure to hackers. It also ensures compliance with data privacy legislation, allowing companies to maintain operational integrity in their day-to-day workload without compromising security. Data anonymization offers an extra layer of protection for data that is not used daily. As with any software, updating your cyber security tools is key for ensuring that they function smoothly and that you stay truly protected. In fact, updating your operating system regularly can also greatly enhance your defences, as developers very often release patches that deal with security issues that they have identified. Even when every possible precaution has been taken, disaster can always strike, as hackers keep improving their techniques. For such a case, it is important to have a response plan already set up, so that you can set it in motion as soon as possible.

Even a couple of hours can prove valuable when it comes to disrupting the damage caused by a cyber attack. Containing and stopping the attack is always the priority while implementing a strategy to mitigate the consequences. This could include anything from shutting down systems to avoid infection to sending out a warning to users about a potential spill over effect. Getting your business back up and running is vital for the viability of your company – both in terms of its financial standing and its reputation. That is why when a data breach happens, restoring all systems as quickly as possible is crucial. The only way to do that is by conducting regular backups that will allow you to minimise the volume of data that you lose in an attack. It is hard for a business to do so on their own resources, which is why a professional backup service provider is a great option. Just make sure you choose someone who takes security seriously and implements encryption solutions like Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

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Where does cybercrime come from, and is Malta prepared?

Cybercrime comes from all over the globe but there are some countries that seem to harbour a higher number of hackers than others. According to research published on on 6 February 2019, China is currently leading among 60 countries in terms of telnet attacks, as a whopping 27.15% of incidents originate there. Brazil ranks second in the same category, playing host to 10.57% of telnet attacks, and Russia comes in third at 7.87%. Egypt at 7.43% and the US at 4.47% complete the top 5 countries where the most telnet attacks originate. Bangladesh ranks first in terms of percentage of mobile malware infections, which plague 35.91% of the country’s mobile users, while Algeria demonstrates the highest percentage of computer malware infections at 32.41%.

Meanwhile, news for Malta is not the best that could be, as the country seems to rank very low among EU Member States in terms of cybersecurity readiness, and cybercrime rates are going through the roof. As the Cyber Crime Unit of the Malta Police Force reports, they dealt with over 1,080 incidents in 2018. This marks a sharp rise – roughly twenty times over – compared to the 51 cases it would address when the Unit was first launched in 2003. The officers also noted a worrying 24% rise in fraud-related cases from 2017 to 2018, as fraudulent social media posts and phishing scams became more widespread. Interestingly, roughly 90% to 95% of the cases that the Unit handles have an international element – the attacker, the victim, or the service used. According to estimates, individual victims often report financial damages that range between €250 and €750, but costs can rise even higher for organizations.

Authorities caution users to be careful – and when it comes to businesses that routinely deal with personal data of clients, this responsibility becomes even more urgent.

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