Cyber attacks in the form of data breaches, ransomware, and system shutdowns are becoming a massive problem for businesses worldwide. This problem has been festering for years, and those who stand to defend against these attacks are struggling to keep up. Law enforcement and people working in IT and cybersecurity can't put out all the fires alone anymore. Explained below are the biggest digital threats to a business, along with how office managers can help create a safer digital workspace by implementing vital security practices and asking some crucial questions as, for example, "What is Phishing?", "What is a VPN?", or "What is my IP?"
Cybercriminals are employing advanced techniques to target companies of all shapes and sizes - not just the big ones. These attacks cost businesses massive amounts in lawsuits, financial loss, and reputational damage. Data breaches cost companies an average total of $3.92 million in 2018. This level of damage can be hard to recover from as well. It takes small to medium businesses an average of 54 days to recover from a cyber attack. Many, though, never recover at all.
Security-minded efforts from top management and the IT department are needed to secure a business's digital assets. But a lack of reliable defensive systems isn't, in fact, the biggest detriment to a company's security. It's employees are. Even now, 70% of employees don't understand the basics of cybersecurity. That's two-thirds of a company who pose a palpable risk to its online security due to negligence and mistakes.
In today's age, there's no way to have an employee perform their job properly without at least some access to the company's digital infrastructure. Yet these employees often get little to no training on what constitutes as safe or risky behavior when handling that infrastructure. Leading to information being leaked accidentally or outsiders gaining a foothold through a poorly secured end-point.
Why Employees Play Such a Big Role in Cybersecurity
According to a survey done by Harvey Nash/KPMG in 2017, tech leaders found that insiders are the biggest threat to the business. It's the people working in the company who are privy to confidential information, or who have access to its internal workings. Of course, some of these threats are intentional - from disgruntled or opportunistic employees. Which is a concern all on its own. But the potential problems stemming from employees who are uneducated about cybersecurity are much easier to solve.
As with any secure system, the weak spots are what criminals are going to target to find a way in. When those working within a company aren't clued in to the role they play in keeping the company safe, then they become a weak spot.
Part of solving this problem is understanding the threats that target employees and businesses the most. They don't always target the employees themselves, but ignorance or negligence from their side can help the situation along.
The Most Common Cyber Attacks Businesses Suffer From
It can be extremely difficult to get to the root of all the threats that exist out there. Especially with the current epidemic of cyber attacks and the many different methods that attackers use to achieve their goals. It's good to keep up with all of the various types of threats, but everyone doesn't always have time for that.
In this case, it's better to be prepared for the most likely eventualities than trying to sort of cover everything and failing. So instead, here's the low-down on the prevailing threats that business owners and managers need to be aware of.
Unlike other internet scams, sextortion targets people in a very embarrassing way. Which often leads to them giving into the scammer's demands rather than opening up to HR or the IT department about it.
Although there are many variations, the typical sextortion scam involves an email claiming to have private videos or photos of a person. They then use this (typically fake) claim to blackmail people into giving them money or information.
Those making the threats often use a person's name, number, or old passwords to make it seem more convincing. It's important to watch out for sextortion in particular because it keeps evolving to get past email and spam filters.
Most company CEO's are all too aware of the threat that ransomware poses, thanks to the many high-profile attacks in the recent past. Unfortunately, there are multiple ways that attackers use to get into a company's network, so there's no one-stop solution for this. But one way to minimize the effect of a ransomware attack is to make regular backups of important data and store them somewhere off the network.
Phishing is one of the biggest threats to company employees, and many still fall for them. According to Verizon's 2019 Data Breach Report, 3% of people click on links in phishing tests. That might sound trivial, but in a company of 1000 people, that's still three people. And only one successful click-through might be enough to get malware injected into the device or network.
IoT Device Hacking
The Internet of Things may be an amazing breakthrough in modern tech, but it can also lead to some big headaches. Mainly in terms of cybersecurity where more end-points (IoT devices) means more problems.
Anyone who types "what is my IP" into a search engine will find a string of numbers that represents their public IP address. This address reveals details like the city, zip code, and area code that the computer/router is located in, and which ISP is being used. In the hands of a normal internet user, this information doesn't amount to much. But cybercriminals aren't normal internet users.
Hackers can use discovered IP addresses to find unsecured devices connected to that IP for a web-based attack. Usually these devices, IoT devices specifically, aren't very secure and leave a door open for the attackers to get into the network.
The best way to protect against these attacks is to create a secure network through encryption software, such as VPNs. It's also important to update passwords on any devices that have them.
Password Guessing Attacks
The password is "admin." Sounds familiar? That's because many businesses and employees still use common passwords. Despite knowing how many stolen credentials are out there thanks to data breaches, people still insist on using the same old passwords. Having a strong password policy can help with this issue.
The most important step towards fighting off the virulent cyber threats that plague businesses everywhere, is accountability. Someone has to be made responsible for making sure that those working at the company are aware of the threats and can protect against them. This is the only way to stay ahead of today's public enemy #1 - the hacker.