As an industry, interior design is rapidly growing. To keep up with demand and embrace new ways of working the industry is using innovative technologies and cutting-edge software to envision and deliver client requests. Though there are many gains from innovation, this increasing reliance on technology brings with it a very real threat: sophisticated cyber-attacks.
Recent data analysis provided by cybersecurity services provider, ramsac, has highlighted a growing urgency for firms to stay vigilant. Emerging cyber threats, such as malware and phishing scams, are hitting interior designers hard, putting their hard work and reputation in jeopardy.
Cybersecurity expert, Dan May, is advising firms to remain vigilant and to act sooner rather than later. He explains:
“The world of interior design is getting more and more tech-savvy, which also means it’s becoming more open to cyberattacks. We want to make sure interior designers know about the latest online safety concerns and take simple steps to keep their work and data safe.”
What threats are interior design firms facing?
- Data breaches
Data breaches can expose interior design firms to major risks, exposing client and customer data, compromising financial records and jeopardising designs. Cybercriminals have a range of motivations, from financial gain to fraud and extortion, posing a huge threat. Affected interior designers could have drawings stolen, client data harvested or even business secrets exposed.
- Disruption to business
Many businesses can go well over half a year without realising they’ve been breached, with an average of 204 days to detect an attack. The impact of fixing and managing a data breach can cause huge losses to any business impacting revenue, causing huge delays to project delivery times, impacting the ability to take on new clients and negatively impacting reputation.
Setbacks caused by a cyber-attack could be costly, not just in delivery projects, but in any ransoms or compensation too. Across the UK, it’s estimated that cybercrime costs businesses and taxpayers £27 billion. For individual firms, this could look like £15,300 for each victim and data record that’s compromised. Even businesses with only ten clients on their books could be looking at a price tag of over £150,000.
- Damage to reputation
Reputational damage is the last thing an interior design firm needs. A cyber-attack, of any scale, could cast a significant shadow over a firm’s reputation, making it increasingly difficult to attract new clients or reassure current customers. In an industry that’s often built by word-of-mouth, a cyber-attack can severely affect public conceptions of your business. Sadly, these rumours could spread without the full information available, painting your firm in a poor light.
Why are interior designers a target for cybercriminals?
As an industry renowned for innovation and progressive designs, it’s a very competitive space. Interior design firms looking to stay ahead of local and market rivals will adopt technology as part of their overall business strategy. This includes:
- Project management tools
- Sketching and drawing software
- Virtual staging platforms
- 3D modelling and print
- Plus any HR, payroll or administrative software
Despite encouraging collaboration and productivity, without proper care and attention, these tools could be an invitation for cyber criminals. In 90% of cases, human error is responsible for a breach, which could be failing to install an update or opening a suspicious link on an email. Out-of-date software can be an open door for opportunists. Likewise, phishing emails and malware could offer criminals easy entry into your systems and your data.
Could a cyber-attack be devastating for interior designers?
Cyber-attacks are frightening for interior design businesses, with many losing control of their data, assets and confidential information. According to one study, it can take around 73 days to contain an attack, meaning your business is compromised until the threat is isolated and dealt with.
The repercussions of an attack can also be the most destructive part, especially for smaller interior design firms, as around 60% of small businesses shut up shop within six months of a breach. Simply put, cybercriminals devastate businesses both during and in the aftermath of an attack. For every record or personal information that’s breached, it could cost at least £15,300 to remedy. Over time, this can easily cut into profits and annual turnover.
What does cybersecurity defence look like for interior design firms?
- Invest in employee training
As 90% of human errors are the cause of a breach, there’s no harm in training your staff around cybersecurity. Also known as your human firewall, your workforce will practice remaining wary and alert to threats, such as phishing emails.
- Review your overarching IT strategy
Your firm’s IT strategy will encompass how you react and prepare for an attack. Within a strategy, you’ll identify any vulnerabilities, such as weak passwords or expiring software.
- Ensure regular data backups
Remote servers and regular backups are an excellent way to prepare your business in the event of a cyber-attack. If all data is compromised, you may be unable to work on your systems, access customer data and bring in money. With regular backups in place, your teams can continue to design for your clients whilst an IT professional contains the threat.
- Partner with a cybersecurity monitoring service
Cyber threats occur 24/7, even whilst you’re out of hours. That’s why a 24/7, 365 cybersecurity monitoring service is vital. Threats are proactively scanned for, detected, and dealt with, leaving IT professionals to handle the breach as you action your contingency plan.
- Create a cyber incident response plan
A comprehensive cyber response plan should guide and aid your firm in the event of an attack. It will outline reaction times, objectives, and the key people responsible for getting your business back on track.
It’s time for firms to act
Echoing advice set out by cybersecurity expert, Dan May, interior designers are now facing more sophisticated threats than ever before. Diligent anti-virus software and regular password updates are no longer enough. Firms must start heading towards full cybersecurity monitoring, incident response plans and regular data backups to ensure their businesses can adapt to evolving threats.