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In today's digital era, companies entrusted with our personal data are compelled to transform into impenetrable fortresses of security. This critical responsibility is reinforced by strict regulatory standards aimed at safeguarding customer data, privacy, and promoting fair practices. Authorities like the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) impose stringent cybersecurity risk management obligations, placing the onus on senior management to fortify defences and shield against relentless cyber threats.

Cybercriminals, with their ever-watchful eyes and innovative tactics, constantly seek out security vulnerabilities to exploit. These weaknesses, if unpatched, can open the floodgates to breaches that may have devastating consequences. Regular software updates and patch cycles are critical, acting as the higher wall to cybercriminals' taller ladders, by fixing known vulnerabilities and enhancing security measures against these adaptive threats.

The repercussions of cybersecurity breaches extend far beyond immediate financial loss. Regulatory fines, especially those concerning personal data breaches, can be punitive. Moreover, the reputational damage from such incidents can have a lasting impact. Client trust, the cornerstone of financial institutions, can quickly erode if their data is compromised, leading to dissatisfaction, attrition, and significant reputational harm.

Constant threat

An easy to attitude to adopt is that “no one would be interested in my company”, “we are not one of the large players, who would bother to attack us?”.

This is misleading and dangerous for several key reasons. Firstly, cyber attackers often use automated tools to scan the internet for vulnerabilities, targeting any and all exposed systems without discriminating based on the perceived value or size of the target. This means that every entity connected to the internet, regardless of its size or industry, is at risk.

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) are published publicly, intended to benefit well-meaning individuals and organisations by informing them of known weaknesses in systems and software. However, this same information is also accessible to those with malicious intent, who may exploit these vulnerabilities for harmful purposes. The creation of automated scripts to exploit these vulnerabilities can be surprisingly straightforward, requiring minimal technical expertise. This dual-edged nature of CVE publication underscores the importance of timely patching and security vigilance.

These attacks transcend geographical boundaries and occur around the clock. Once the scripts are developed, they tirelessly scan the internet, targeting any machine they identify as vulnerable.

Continuous development

In an environment where cyber threats evolve with daunting speed and complexity, the concept of cyber hygiene must also progress continuously. It's not sufficient to establish a set of practices and consider the job done; cyber hygiene is a dynamic process, necessitating ongoing refinement and enhancement to counteract new and emerging threats.

Cyber hygiene is not solely the responsibility of IT departments; it encompasses the entire organisation. Developing a culture of security awareness where every employee understands their role in safeguarding the company's digital assets is vital. Continuous development in this area involves regular training sessions, updates on the latest phishing tactics and scams, and fostering an environment where security is everyone's concern. See our article on combating phishing

A critical aspect of continuous development in cyber hygiene is the incorporation of feedback loops. This involves analysing the outcomes of security measures, identifying weaknesses, and learning from security incidents. By understanding what worked and what didn't, organisations can refine their cyber hygiene practices, making them more robust over time. (See our article on how to develop a blameless culture for security incidents).