Top 5 Cyber Security Threats that may Harm your Business
It's an unfortunate reality that businesses must accept: Amid advancements and the ever-changing technology, new cybersecurity risks continue to emerge, emphasizing the need for vigilance now more than ever. The worst part is that cybercriminals are almost impossible to catch most of the time.
Given the circumstances, proactive CEOs understand they should routinely inspect their security frameworks, policies, and practices to stay safe. This kind of approach can not only upgrade the ability of a company to efficaciously retort to cybercrimes but also keep the security damages to a minimum in case of a cyber breach.
Want to Learn more about prevention against cyber-attacks? Read our CEO’s Guide Here.
Following are the five biggest cybersecurity threats that pose a risk to small and big businesses worldwide.
As the name denotes, ransomware attacks the IT systems that hold all access to infected files and data until a ransom is paid to the hacker. Ransomware attacks can practically cripple your entire business operations, causing a forced shutdown as files are encrypted completely. The attack can take over your systems as quickly as 3 seconds only, while the downtime could extend up to 15 days depending on the payment release. The cybercriminal keeps your IT infrastructure hostage until his demands are met.
Ransomware attacks can target small and large businesses, even government entities at times. It is prevalent among cyber hackers and used as much as 22% or more in cyber-attacks. What's alarming about this type of attack is that most companies choose to pay the ransom and move on rather than disclosing it to the cyber defense authorities. But why? Small and medium-sized companies don't wish to lose their market reputation and business as a consequence.
Ransomware attacks can originate from the following sources:
● Malicious Downloads
● Infected Websites
● Infected USB Drives
● Phishing Emails
● Malicious Software Updates
● Compromised Passwords
● Malicious File Attachments
Here are a few examples of recent Ransomware Attacks:
● A cybercriminal gang called Darkside attacked the refined oil giant Colonial Pipeline Company of the U.S. on May 6th, 2021. The attackers demanded a whopping amount of $4.4 million in Bitcoin as a ransom. This attack was devastating as it forced many gas stations to shut down operations as well as oil shortages across America until the company released the payment.
● In Ireland, a Russian cybercrime gang called the Wizard Spider targeted a hospital for a $19 million ransom. This attack happened in May 2021, causing a chaotic situation at the medical facility. Not only were all OPD appointments ceased, but also Covid-19 testing got delayed. While the Irish government refused to pay the ransom, the cyber attackers threatened to compromise patients' data.
Ransomware can be prevented if companies follow specific standard procedures. They are:
● Updating Anti-Virus Software on all workstations.
● Backing Up all drives and confidential data at diverse locations.
● Maintaining Patch Updates at regular intervals.
● Installing File and System Integrity Monitoring Software on all systems.
● Maintaining all Data Security Compliance Policies.
● Use Email and Endpoint Protections
● Use a Stronger Password System
Unsure how to do all this? Learn about third-party Cyber Security Reviews and what they are worth.
2. DDoS Attack
Distributed Denial of Service attacks is another branch of cybercrime used commonly by hackers. In this type of attack, cybercriminals flood a business website and network with high traffic, causing website breakdown and service failure. As a result, users cannot access the website anymore, causing an actual business loss for the target company.
As the company's security department tries to revive the systems in the face of a DDoS attack, hackers try out other cyberattacks to infiltrate the IT systems and steal data. This means that a DDoS attack usually combines different forms of cyber threats with it.
There are a variety of methods used in DDoS attacks. These include:
Attackers generate a 'spoof' IP address. They send ICMP or Internet Control Message Protocol to echo requests to the target's IP address using this IP. This repeatedly happens at a large scale, causing the victim's systems to overwhelm and crash.
Attackers use devices infected with malware as bots. These bots are under complete control of the hackers who use them to carry out DDoS attacks and other criminal activities without the owner's knowledge. Botnet attacks can be devastating if done on a large scale, involving millions of workstations.
TCP SYN Flood Attack:
Attackers send millions of connection requests to the victim's server, which tries to finish the connection but fails to do so. The hacker's system is unresponsive, forcing a time out, resulting in more extensive connection queues at the server's end. This prevents genuine users from connecting as the server is too busy.
Ping of Death Attack:
Attackers ping the victim's device with enormous irregular P packets. This causes the device to hang and ultimately crash.
Two services are causing much harm to companies by empowering hackers in their criminal activities. These are:
DDoS for hire:
Individuals or businesses hire hackers to perform DDoS attacks against rival companies in exchange for compensation.
As the IoT technology is becoming popular, so is the vulnerability of users because IoT widgets have weak defenses and therefore appear as easy targets for a cyber-attack.
Here are a few examples of recent DDoS Attacks:
● A massive DDoS attack targeted AWS, the largest cloud computing service, in February 2020. The magnitude of the attack was so gigantic that cybersecurity experts were bedazzled- peaking at 2.3Tb/s., Although the attack continued for three days, it was quickly contained.
● Another severe DDoS attack targeted Belgium's Belnet, causing a temporary website shut down and junk traffic sent to 29 countries' IP addresses.
DDoS attacks can be prevented if companies follow specific standard procedures. They are:
● Investigating uncommon traffic activity
● Establishing immediate connection with the ISP
● Preplanning a comprehensive strategy against DDoS attack
3. Social Engineering Attack
A social engineering attack is a branch of cyberattack that psychologically manipulates people into performing actions that are not in their best interest. Attacks are often executed with the goal being to gain sensitive information about an individual or organization, such as passwords and account numbers.
The ability for attackers to manipulate victims has become increasingly easier over time due to our increased dependence on technology across all aspects of life; this vulnerability can be exploited without expensive software tools required when deploying more traditional hacking techniques.
The year 2020 was a groundbreaking time for cyber-crimes. Almost a third of all breaches incorporated social engineering techniques, including 90% of phishing attacks on consumers and businesses alike who were targeted with scareware and other tactics to steal personal information.
According to Cisco, successful spear-phishing attacks are accountable for 95% of breaches in enterprise networks. In fact, there was a 667% increase in the number of these types of attempts made last month alone, and 43% of workers admit that they have been careless with their security system or device, which has led to them giving up private information-giving cybercriminals an opportunity to breach those systems.
Want to Protect Your Company's Sensitive Information? Read Why 80% Of Businesses Choose Managed IT Services? for increased data security.
This summer, Twitter fell victim as well when it got hacked by criminals who were able to find out personal data about employees from social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. The company had no idea until two weeks after the incident.
To protect against social engineering hacking efforts, an enterprise can adopt "Zero Standing Privilege," which prevents users from accessing any part of the company's system without explicit authorization by IT staff. Even if attackers somehow manage to steal login information like passwords or tokens, these employees still won't have unrestricted permission to use corporate resources because permissions will last just as long as needed- more than 20 minutes at most-even in rare cases.
Social engineering attacks include:
Phishing is the illegitimate act of sending a fraudulent email to steal confidential details from unsuspecting users—who might unsuspectingly click on malware-infected attachments or follow links to malicious websites posing as legitimate sites. The most common phishing involves emails with seemingly important requests for personal data such as login credentials which can be used by an attacker later in order to access web accounts.
This is a targeted attack in which attackers specifically target individuals with security privileges or influence. This type of hacking technique works because the individual will be more willing to trust an email from someone they know than one coming from an unknown sender, leaving them vulnerable to malicious files and links that can steal their information or install malware on their device.
Homograph attacks are a type of phishing attack that uses very similar web addresses to legitimate websites. The goal is for people who don't notice the slight difference in URL and blindly submit their credentials and other sensitive information into an attacker's hands.
4. Weak Password
Small businesses are constantly at risk for security breaches. From weak or easy-to-guess passwords to stolen devices, small business owners need a plan in place that protects their company's data and integrity from any potential threats. Businesses often utilize multiple cloud-based services, each of which requires a different account. These accounts may include sensitive financial and personal information that could be easily accessed if the passwords are guessable or identical across all other sites.
According to a recent study, an average of 19% of enterprise professionals are at risk from weak passwords due to the lack of awareness surrounding their potential damage. This is especially true for small businesses that often have employees using easily guessed or shared passwords across accounts as they don't fully understand how damaging this can be.
There can be two ways to save a business from the damage of weak passwords. These are:
1. Business Password Management Software:
One form of protection that businesses should consider implementing is business password management platforms which allow employees to manage all their accounts at once. These platforms not only help with managing passwords but also suggest strong ones as well!
2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):
When it comes to cybersecurity and the protection of private information, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) techniques are considered best practice by experts worldwide because they require more than just a password-or even two passwords-to access sensitive data or files within any given software system such as Microsoft Office 365 OneDrive cloud storage service which may contain important client communications that could endanger their livelihood if revealed inappropriately because there's no way to ever know who might get hold of them!
Cyber Criminals can use two types of password attacks. These are:
1. Brute-force Password Guessing:
The attacker may use a brute-force technique by writing software that tries all possible combinations until they guess correctly—that is, if their password isn't too long or complicated. Allowing this kind of attack cuts down on time and resources for hackers because many times, an individual's personal information such as name, job title, birthplace can be used in conjunction with letters from the alphabet and numbers like 0–9.
2. Dictionary attack:
In some cases, the best way to break into an account is not through a sophisticated hacking scheme. A dictionary attack can be made by copying an encrypted file with passwords and applying encryption. It uses commonly used words as they are found in a standard English-language dictionary. The outcome of this process yields matches between the original text with various word variations from different dictionaries.
5. Cloud Security
As cloud computing is becoming popular, hackers are bypassing secure cloud services by using them as a tool for their evil intentions. They use the same legitimate service providers but have ulterior motives and can cause major issues if not stopped in time.
Cloud security experts have come to understand that when you trust the cloud, it leaves organizations vulnerable. They are now taking a proactive approach by creating new technology or updating existing systems to protect their clients from the damage caused by hackers and malware attacks. Inevitably this comes with its own set of challenges like compatibility issues and downtime for programs. Still, some say those costs are worth avoiding if they can keep cyberattacks at bay.
From 2019 till date, many incidents have been reported where a Dropbox link was used in phishing scams. Recently, the City of Tallahassee has lost $500k due to hackers infiltrating their payroll network and infecting it with viruses following an attack on one email account from the city manager's office.
As the world moves into a more technologically advanced stage, software-as-a-Service grows as one of many burgeoning industries. One continuing trend that may come up is how policies and procedures can lead an organization astray in their data security measures, which they should be highly vigilant about when it comes to storing information on cloud services like Amazon's AWS or Microsoft Azure Cloud Computing Services.
The world's demand for digital services was estimated at $227 billion back in 2016; combined with an estimated 17% growth rate from 2017 onwards, we now find ourselves looking forward to what will amount to close to 3 trillion dollars worth of data stored on servers worldwide - which means more money made but also greater expenditure than before!
The increasing trend of cloud account hacking is a perfect lure for cybercriminals who have already managed to perform 7.5 million external attacks in the second quarter of 2020 alone, with 250% more attempted breaches than they did through all 2019 combined! Hackers scan for servers that do not require passwords beforehand - exploiting systems without patches and performing brute-force attacks on user accounts until their efforts pay off.
The Blackbaud Cloud Service company faced a massive attack this year, in which the attackers installed ransomware and stole payment information from millions of users worldwide. This caused the company to have to pay an undisclosed ransom for getting their data back. In addition, they had been hit with lawsuits by people concerned because some customers are still missing transactions that occurred during the period when it was compromised.
The use of cloud computing has grown exponentially, and the need to protect this data from attacks is more important than ever. One way that you can safeguard your information on a distributed network like Cloud Computing is by taking into account the configuration of storage devices, security for APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and end-user actions with their devices.
Fight Cyber Threats with Acropolis
If you are skeptical about your organization’s current security status, then feel free to Contact Acropolis Technology Group. We are a trusted managed security provider that can give you the best security review for your company. Our people are skillful and trained to provide the highest quality services.
Written by Adnan Ahmed