Cyber-attacks are such a big problem that the future of most businesses now hinges on how they decide to mitigate them. In many cases, this means an in-house or managed security team trained to detect and respond to cyber-attacker methods. In this post, we look at the five most common and how to stop them.
The average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. For many businesses, that’s game over. To make matters worse, the costs keep growing every year.
In 2021, the global cybercrime industry is expected to reach $6 trillion – up $3 trillion from 2017. That’s a 200% increase in money stolen from users and businesses in less than a decade.
For organizations of every size, the stakes have never been higher. Yet so many businesses find themselves unprepared for modern security threats. You only have to look back to 2018 to see that 95% of the breaches that occurred that year could have been prevented.
The good news is that every business can secure its network and protect itself from attacks. But preventing cyberattacks requires an in-depth knowledge of the methods attackers use to target a business network. So, with that in mind, here are the five biggest cyberattacks and how to fight them.
What it is: Phishing attacks are messages—typically emails—that disguise as emails from trusted sources. Sometimes the email is as simple as a fake email from your CEO asking for your phone number for an urgent call. Often, they’re more sophisticated, trying to trick users into clicking links to access portals or downloads.
How to prevent it: A strong phishing cyber defense will prove vital. A common approach is to have a detection system that flags suspicious emails as potentially harmful. This is effective because it unmasks phishing emails for what they really are.
But in addition to having strong defenses in place, educating employees on avoiding these deceptive attacks goes a long way in preventing successful attacks.
What it is: Weak employee and network passwords pose a major vulnerability to security. They provide attackers with an easy pathway into your network. Using a variety of tactics, they can force their way through login portals to access your network and all your valuable, mission-critical data.
Password attacks employ a variety of approaches. During a dictionary attack, the hacker runs a “dictionary” of common passwords against each username. In contrast, brute force attacks use programs to generate massive quantities of passwords to force their way in. The generated passwords start as simple, weak passwords and graduate towards complex character strings.
How to prevent it: These attacks prey on the fact that many people use simple, easy-to-remember passwords. Requiring employees to create stronger passwords goes a long way in eliminating your organization’s vulnerability to password attacks. Additionally, utilizing programs to detect and prevent these types of attacks as they happen is vital to containing the threat, should the stronger passwords fail. Use two-factor authentication and credential management to revoke unauthorized logins to sensitive data.
What it is: A man-in-the-middle attack is when an attacker intercepts messages between parties and relays messages with them. While the parties think they are communicating with one another, the attackers are monitoring, filtering and altering the data. They can also steal important information.
How to prevent it: Encryption secures communications so that the attacker can’t access messages and sensitive information. Security monitoring and detection also helps to identify when this attack occurs.
What it is: Malware, which stands for malicious software, is unwanted software that attackers install on user devices without user consent. In 2018, 92% of malware was distributed by email.
Malware comes in many forms. There’s keyloggers, which track the keystrokes of a computer to obtain login credentials and other sensitive information. Trojan horses, as their name’s origins suggest, present as legitimate software and infiltrate systems with malicious intent. Cyber hackers use Trojans to steal, alter and destroy data while impairing the performance of hardware and networks.
How to prevent: Utilizing a comprehensive anti-malware program and continually monitoring your network.
What it is: Ransomware is a form of malware, but its unique and aggressive approach to hijacking data and hardware deserves special mention.
The stakes are high. Businesses that fall prey to ransomware must decide between paying a low ransom or enduring huge damages. A common scenario is a $40k ransom against $1 million in damages.
How to Prevent it: Like other types of cyberattacks, securing your network with IPS and firewalls is a must to prevent ransomware. But there are a few additional measures you can take to minimize your business’s exposure in the case of a breach. Backing up your data is crucial, as it makes the damages from lost data negligible. Additionally, setting up equipment logs, staff protocols and ransomware insurance will keep you prepared for when an attack occurs.
Managed Security and Cyberattacks
Cyberattacks change constantly. Hackers continuously create new strains of attacks to stay ahead of the defensive measures businesses implement. Ransomware, for example, comes in hundreds of variants, including Jigsaw and the infamous WannaCry. Keeping up with the latest cyber threats is challenging and time consuming, but it’s also essential to keeping your defenses up to date.
Additionally, ongoing security monitoring is a critical component of network security. To identify and thwart an attack as it happens, you’ll need IT personnel and detection systems in place to monitor your network 24/7/365.
Few organizations have the time or personnel to combat modern threats. Expertise in emerging technologies, security intelligence and best practices requires a lot of time and experience. Because of this, many businesses are outsourcing their cyber security to managed services providers for a managed security solution.
The cyber-attack threat to businesses has never been greater. Fortunately, businesses of every size can protect themselves by deploying an in-house or managed security team that’s ready to protect your network.