Cyber attacks are on the rise. Enterprises, midsize companies and even small and medium-sized businesses are now under threat from both nation-states and criminal hacker groups. According to MIT Technology Review, attackers are getting more sophisticated in their operations — even as private organizations and government agencies look for ways to cooperate on disclosing and responding to large-scale data and network breaches.
Security and risk management publication CSO reports that despite the evolution of defensive tools, technological maturity doesn’t always keep pace, exposing companies to greater risk. Additionally, cybersecurity news site Dark Reading points out that no matter how intelligent IT solutions become, enterprises will always need human oversight to provide effective protection.
The result? Companies are understandably worried about the prospect of network compromise but often unsure about how to effectively counterpunch against heavy-handed cyber attacks. Let’s break down three of the top threat vectors and what your business can do to stay safe.
It’s a regular news-maker: The next new malware attack designed to defeat IT safeguards and steal corporate data. Recent examples include worldwide threat WannaCry, which locked down critical files, and mobile malware Invisible Man, which used a keylogger to steal users’ banking details.
While types and specific purposes of malware vary, the basics are consistent: Your network is infected by malicious files, often sent via email attachments or downloaded from compromised websites. In many cases, these emails appear to be legitimate and hackers may “spoof” popular websites to convince users that malicious links are safe.
Best bet? Keep an eye on network performance. If computers start acting strangely or network traffic suddenly spikes, you may be the victim of a malware attack.
Your counterpunch strategy: Train employees to avoid unsolicited email attachments; use an up-to-date cloud-based malware scanner; and, if infected, contact a reputable third-party security provider for help.
Hackers can also gain access to your system through user error. Typically, employees mean no harm, but they may inadvertently take actions that expose your network to serious risk. A good example here is social media. Users are now conditioned to expect full access to network services anytime, anywhere, and are familiar with cloud-based services such as social media and email platforms, which often leads to a false sense of security and the conflation of business and personal device use. The result? Employees may download risky third-party applications, share login credentials with other staff or post sensitive company data on public social sites.
Counterpunch against user-based cyber attacks by creating a detailed IT use policy that defines:
- How employees can use corporate networks
- What they’re allowed to post and download
- The specific consequences that will result if rules are not followed
In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: It’s better for staff to know upfront expectations for their online behavior than risk total system compromise.
Companies can’t compete in the new digital marketplace without apps. This includes mobile device applications, web-based apps and custom-built applications designed to fulfill unique company needs. Yet these apps also come with inherent security risk: Given their ubiquity, applications often provide the easiest way into corporate networks for motivated hackers.
For example, limited application testing can leave huge gaps in security, while almost all apps are vulnerable to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks — which see attackers overwhelming networks with access requests or random data. More technical threats — such as SQL injection, session hijacking and zero-day attacks — are also on the rise, along with the exploitation of commonly used permissions and open-source code, which saves development time but may put networks at risk.
Want to dodge the application attack and punch back? Make app security, not speed-to-market, your top priority — better slow and stable than fast and failing.
Your business can’t afford to ignore emerging cyber threats. Hit back against hackers by learning more about malware, user error and application threats.