October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and there’s a simple message behind the “See Yourself in Cyber” theme of this year’s campaign: Effective cybersecurity starts with people.
If you are a business owner or chief executive, that means you, your managers and your employees all need to take responsibility for protecting the business against fraud. It must be a team effort.
“Seeing yourself in cyber” begins with understanding the evolving cybersecurity threats your organization faces every day. It requires making a commitment to defend against those threats, which includes providing leadership and the investment needed to train employees on best practices that will keep your business safe.
The Battle Continues
Cyber fraud prevention is a constant battle. More than 7 out of 10 businesses experienced attempted or actual payments fraud in 2021, according to a survey conducted by the Association for Financial Professionals. And many of the attacks were online, with 68% of organizations reporting they were targeted by business email compromise scams.1
Of those respondents who reported an increase in payments fraud at their organizations, nearly one-third believe the post-pandemic rise in remote working played a role in the uptick, the AFP survey revealed.
Four Key Defensive Behaviors
Each October, in a tradition started by the president and Congress in 2004, the National Cybersecurity Alliance and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency lead a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise cybersecurity awareness. This year, with the “See Yourself in Cyber” theme, the message is that everyone in a business plays an important role in protecting the organization against online assaults. What’s more, organizers are stressing four key behaviors that can help build an effective firewall against cyberattacks:
- Enable multi-factor authentication. This security measure requires anyone logging into an account to navigate a two-step process to prove their identity. The first step could be providing a password and the second step might be keying in an additional code that’s emailed or texted to a mobile number, or maybe answering a security question. Users of Hancock Whitney’s Treasury Manager online banking platform are familiar with multi-factor authentication, as they are required to provide a second code to gain access.
- Use strong passwords. Passwords are the first line of defense against cybercriminals and data breaches. They should be long (at least 12 characters), unique (never re-use a password), and complex (combining upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters).
- Regularly update your software. Updates provide security patches to thwart the latest criminal techniques for fraudulently accessing your accounts.
- Recognize and report phishing. Phishing refers to fake emails intended to get you or a team member to click on a bad link or download malware. Everyone on your team should be trained to recognize and know how to report a phishing attempt.
Most of these key behaviors require employees to be well informed about the dangers of cyber fraud and best practices for thwarting it. Such awareness requires education, which research suggests is critical to staying safe. One survey, for instance, concluded that organizations which train their employees to recognize cybercrime are five times less likely to fall victim to ransomware and four times less likely to take a hit from business email compromise.2
Accessing Cyber Awareness Resources
It may be Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but keeping your people educated about cyber threats, and how they need to respond to protect the business, is a year-round responsibility.
With that in mind, Hancock Whitney has plenty of educational resources available to you and your employees. At our Cybersecurity Awareness page, you can access white papers, infographics and information about products and services designed to help a business combat fraud. There’s also a form on that page you can fill out if you would like to download our cybersecurity awareness guide or be contacted by one of our Treasury Services specialists to discuss best practices.
1 2022 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, https://www.afponline.org/publications-data-tools/reports/survey-research-economic-data/Details/payments-fraud
2 Strategic Treasurer Treasury Fraud & Controls Survey Report 2020. https://strategictreasurer.com//files/2020_Treasury_Fraud_Controls_Survey_Infographic.pdf
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