Four ways to help keep your company safe from cyber attacks

A statistic I saw recently caught my eye.

Four ways to help keep your company safe from cyber attacks

Two-thirds of large UK firms have been hit by a cyber-attack in the past year. On top of this, just 17 per cent of UK firms have cybersecurity training in place for their staff.

These figures are troubling, but all too familiar. The bottom line is that much of the cybersecurity infrastructure organisations currently have in place is insufficient.

Businesses all over the world are at risk of being breached, with threat levels likely to grow in the months and years ahead. You would never leave the doors and windows of your house open or unlocked – yet, in the cyber world, many businesses are doing just that.

Here are four pieces of advice I hope will help you to ensure your organisation is protected:

(1)    Rethink your current approach

Making sure you aren’t complacent when it comes to the security protection you have in place is critical. Fraudsters don’t just sit still, they learn what security systems are in place and adapt their approaches accordingly. That’s why, for example, card-not-present fraud has become so prevalent, as e-commerce has grown.

We help many companies fight CNP fraud across the globe, and are now tackling cyber security as well. FICO recently acquired security scoring company QuadMetrics, allowing us to develop an enterprise-level “cyber threat score” that gives an empirical, independent measure of how secure a company is. By creating a common scoring system, organisations can more accurately evaluate their level of cyber risk and adapt accordingly.

Of course, there are measures that both individuals and organisations can take. From simple protection methods like regularly changing passwords and logins to constantly reassessing your company’s cybersecurity strategy, staying on your toes is the only way to keep ahead of agile criminals always looking for a way in and actively making it difficult for them.

(2)    Monitor changes in behaviour

A central part of our philosophy at FICO is that noticing and tracking behavioural change is an integral part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Unfortunately, cybercrime isn’t just about malware and external attacks – a ‘rogue’ employee could also present a fraud threat. If an unauthorised employee was sitting at your desk accessing your files, this wouldn’t necessarily register as a ‘breach’ in a business’ firewall, but it is still a potentially dangerous security risk, so you need to be vigilant. FICO’s software can detect a change in user behaviour and flag a situation like this as an internal threat, so you can handle it appropriately and avoid data being compromised and from leaving the organisation.

(3)    Prioritise

We all know how frustrating it is when malware systems send us thousands of alerts every single day. It’s impossible to keep up with them all, let alone act on them. FICO’s recently announced partnership with iBoss has enabled us to create a cybersecurity scoring system that assigns a number between 1 (low cyber threat) and 999 (high cyber threat) to each network flow, allowing alerts to be prioritised and new threats non-alerted to be detected by sophisticated machine learning models. This allows Cyber threat teams to prioritise working the top threats to the business. 

As a data scientist myself, it won’t surprise you to learn I’m a big believer in data analytics as a means to detect cybercrime. I discuss the analytics applied to cybersecurity in this FICO Fraud Minute video.

(4)    Act faster

It sounds obvious, but from my experience, it’s easier said than done – what do you actually do if your business has been breached, and what do you do if the breach occurred many months ago?

Acting quickly is the only way to ensure you can minimise the loss of data and the impact that has. 24 hours isn’t just a long time in politics, it’s an eternity for cyber criminals too. You may have a goal to communicate the breach in 24 hours – but unfortunately, it takes most businesses much, much longer to learn they’ve been hacked. The average time it takes a retailer to detect an advanced threat and data breach is 98 days. For financial services institutions, it takes 196.5 days, which is more than six months.

FICO’s scoring system, in contrast, works in real-time – and by real-time, we mean within milliseconds.  This allows operationalising cyber threat through real-time scores alerting to behaviours and traffic that are most suspect so that data can be intercepted and events actively investigated before data leaves an organisation.

The scale of these challenges should not be underestimated, but I am optimistic about the future of cyber security. FICO met the challenge presented by card fraud 25 years ago, and we are tackling today’s threats as well. However, to do this, businesses of all shapes and sizes need a new approach to cyber security based on real-time behavioural analytics and machine learning.  

Today, the reality is that your credit card is better protected than your company data. If we’re to get serious about protecting our data in the 21st Century, this situation cannot continue.