At DataGuard, we take data breaches and cyber attacks very seriously. Unfortunately, such attacks have become increasingly common in recent years, and businesses across all industries are at risk.
A recent UK government report states that cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, with organisations reporting more breaches over the last 12 months.
And one recent high-profile attack that has made headlines involves WH Smith, a well-known UK retailer. The company confirmed that its systems had been hacked, and that the personal information of its employees had been accessed.
What happened in the WH Smith cyber-attack?
The books and stationery chain WH Smith experienced a cyber-attack where an unknown group of hackers gained unauthorised access to its systems.
According to various news outlets, the attack was carried out by a group of cybercriminals who exploited a vulnerability in WH Smith’s systems to gain access to sensitive data. The company has stated that it is working with law enforcement and cybersecurity experts to investigate the incident and ensure that appropriate measures are taken to prevent similar attacks in the future.
What information was accessed by the attackers?
The attackers accessed sensitive employee data, including personal information such as names, addresses, and contact details. According to BBC News, the attack has led to access to some company data, including current and former employees. However, the customer accounts, customer databases and the company website were not affected.
The impact on WH Smith employees
The retail group has around 10,000 staff in the UK across its high street stores and a growing travel arm based at airports, train stations and hospitals. The cyber-attack can have a significant impact on WH Smith employees, who are now at risk of identity theft and other forms of fraud.
According to the Independent, the retailer also confirmed the hack has seen a possible breach of staff payroll data such as names, addresses, dates of birth and national insurance numbers. However, it does not believe banking details have been accessed.
What can we learn from this cyber-attack?
The WH Smith cyber-attack serves as a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity in today's digital world. These attacks are a serious threat to businesses of all sizes and industries. By investing in cybersecurity measures, implementing data protection policies, and staying up to date on the latest threats, businesses can take proactive steps to protect themselves against cyber threats.
As a CEO, CIO, Head of IT or CTO, it’s essential to understand the risks associated with cyber-attacks and take steps to protect your organisation’s sensitive data and safeguard your business against them.
Businesses can take multiple proactive steps to protect their systems and the sensitive data they hold. This includes:
- Implementing strong security protocols,
- Training employees to recognise and avoid phishing emails and other forms of social engineering,
- Regularly reviewing and updating security measures to stay ahead of evolving threats.
Additionally, it’s important to stay informed about any security vulnerabilities or patches for your systems and software. Regularly checking for updates and implementing them can help prevent cyber-attacks before they occur.
You might also be interested in reading Top Cyber Threats and the Importance of Information Security and Strengthening Cybersecurity through the EU’s NIS2 Directive.
Expert viewpoint on how to prevent cyber-attacks
We’ve asked Emrick Etheridge, Product Content Owner - Information Security at DataGuard, to get his point of view on the cyber-attacks topic.
“As an expert in cybersecurity, I must stress the severe consequences of cyber-attacks on businesses. They are becoming increasingly common and can have devastating consequences for businesses. These attacks can result in the theft of valuable data, financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities.
To prevent these consequences, businesses must take proactive measures by implementing strong cybersecurity measures, such as data encryption and regular backups, to protect sensitive information. Additionally, regularly reviewing and updating cybersecurity strategies is crucial to respond to emerging threats and technological changes.
Employee training is another critical component of effective cybersecurity. Employees need to be aware of the potential risks associated with cyber-attacks and understand how to prevent them. This includes identifying phishing scams, avoiding weak passwords, and properly managing sensitive information. Regular training and awareness campaigns can ensure that employees are equipped to recognise and respond to cyber threats effectively, reducing the risk of successful cyber-attacks.
However, identifying and tracking cyber-attackers can be challenging. Attackers often use ransomware to demand payment in exchange for decryption keys, making it difficult to trace their origins. Therefore, businesses must work closely with cybersecurity experts to investigate and respond to cyber-attacks promptly. Staying up to date on the latest cybersecurity trends and best practices is also essential to ensure businesses are adequately protected from emerging threats,” Mr. Etheridge said.
How ISO 27001 can help prevent cyber-attacks
At DataGuard, we help our clients to increase their cybersecurity posture through ISO 27001 certification.
ISO 27001 can help businesses prevent cyber-attacks by providing a comprehensive set of controls and guidelines for protecting information assets. The standard covers a wide range of areas including access control, network security, incident management, business continuity planning, and more.
One of the key benefits of ISO 27001 is that it provides a risk-based approach to information security. This means that organisations can assess their information security risks and prioritise their efforts based on the level of risk. By focusing on the most critical areas, they can allocate their resources more effectively and efficiently.
Another benefit of ISO 27001 is that it promotes a culture of security within the organisation. The standard requires that employees are trained and aware of their information security responsibilities. This can help to reduce the risk of human error, which is often a contributing factor in cyber-attacks.
In summary, cyber-attacks are a serious threat to businesses, and ISO 27001 can help organisations prevent them by providing a framework for implementing a comprehensive information security management system. By prioritising their efforts based on risk, promoting a culture of security, and demonstrating their commitment to information security through certification, businesses can better protect themselves from cyber-attacks.
How can DataGuard help?
At DataGuard, we understand the importance of protecting sensitive data and are committed to staying at the forefront of cybersecurity best practices.
We also understand that as your business matures, your information grows in both complexity and value. Without sophisticated measures, your information can easily be stolen or lost. Breaches or downtime can grind your business to a halt.
With a bulletproof Information Security Management System (ISMS) and the right processes in place, you can heavily reduce the likelihood and impact of future risks. You can strengthen your cybersecurity posture by aiding with the implementation of an ISO 27001 Certification.
Get in touch with us today to find out how you can leverage our ISMS platform and get support from our in-house experts to manage, maintain and improve your cybersecurity maturity level and protect your business from cyber-attacks.