Cyberattack threats and trends are constantly evolving. As much as organizations strive to protect themselves, it remains difficult to stay on top of the many malicious threats which continue to grow in severity and frequency.
A great place to start is to develop an overall awareness of cyberattack risk across your organization. This will help you employ the right strategies to help avoid today’s most active threats.
Do you use the internet? It’s in the best interest of anyone who does anything online to realize that the risk of a cyberattack is real. Organizations have more to lose compared to a single user, since a network of interconnected information systems is often a more valuable target.
Attackers usually have some benefit to gain from causing a disruption on a victim’s network, but the true motives of hacking are, at times, unknown. Some criminals do so for financial gain, while others simply want to cause problems for no apparent reason.
What constitutes a cyberattack? A cyberattack is an assault launched by cybercriminals against a local network, which might disable computers, copy or steal data, or use an already breached computer as a launch pad for other attack attempts. The most active malware threats used by cybercriminals today are cryptomining, phishing, trojans and ransomware. Many of these methods are developing into more complex and even multi-staged attacks.
According to a 2021 Cisco Report on cybersecurity threat trends:
- 86% of organizations have connected to a phishing site
- 69% of organizations experienced some level of cryptomining
- 50% of organizations encountered a ransomeware threat
It’s more important now than ever to understand even at the basic level, the attacker’s intent and method.
A Brief Look at Today’s Most Common Malware Cyberattacks
Cryptomining: Once hacked, the system resources are used to mine cryptocurrency. The hacker may enter by way of a malicious link (such as in an email or website ad) which loads a crypto mining code.
Phishing: Hackers trick the victim with an email that appears trustworthy but contains malicious content in a link or attachment. Once clicked or downloaded, the hacker has infected your computer.
Trojans: An umbrella term for a type of malware that, once downloaded, can take control of your computer. There are numerous kinds of Trojans, and each execute their own task – such as taking remote access of your computer, accessing your webcam, or even intercepting and controlling text messages (yes, Trojans exist for mobile phones too!)
Ransomware: Once hackers have access to your information (personal and work files, photos etc.) they encrypt those files and threaten to publish or block your access until you pay a ransom.
Proactive Prevention – Things to Implement Now:
Monitor Events in Your Company’s Infrastructure
An effective method of detecting cyberattacks is monitoring and analyzing every event in the company’s infrastructure – this applies to anything that happened before and after a hack has occurred.
Cybercriminals will typically try to establish a connection with the command-and-control server to start moving through the network. If they are executing these commands within the same computer, then by good fortune, these actions will leave traces in network traffic. By carefully analyzing infrastructure events and running reports, a cyber threat can be traced and identified.
Purchase Iterations of Your Website’s URL
Purchasing various iterations (.com, .ca, .net, .ac, etc.) of your website, along with different naming conventions, is extremely worthwhile and can help prevent your risk of a cyberattack. Without the iterations belonging to you, online criminals may devise a sophisticated, multi-pronged hack by establishing a dummy website where your clients are funneled – instead of going to you!
What could an attack like this look like? Hackers will use the fake website to gather usernames, passwords, sensitive data and so on. This can lead to funds and confidential information being stolen, since your clients are tricked into providing their credentials to a false website. From here, the hackers can conduct business (on the real website) as if they were the user.
Hackers have the skills and time to create exact replicas of a website’s many pages – not just the homepage. What’s more, these criminals have been known to not only create a convincing dummy website, but also go as far as to purchase an SSL certificate, which further tricks anyone on the page into believing the website is in fact ‘secure’. They may even buy a google ad for the fake website, so they come up on top of a google search in the ads section.
Purchasing many iterations and similar spellings of your website will help protect you from enormous losses in time and resources. Unless you can prove the loss was greater than $100,000, the local police authority may not take any action. Contacting other forms of assistance such as the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) will likely result in even more costly waiting times before they get to your case. Taking the time to buy the various related websites and having them re-direct traffic to your real website is a very smart move to make in protecting your valuable information form pesky hackers.
Anticipate Where the Cyberattack May Take Place
If you can pinpoint where a cyberattack is most likely to occur, you can take steps to prevent or eliminate an intrusion. Identifying key servers and workstations will take time and will require a thorough exploration of connections between the system’s nodes.
When conducting a targeted attack, the hacker cannot always be sure that they will land in the segment they planned. Where are they most likely to end up after penetrating the company’s local network? Finding the vulnerable areas, or systems that need updating, will help patch up weaker points where hackers could easily enter.
Update Web Applications Regularly
Web applications represent one of the most vulnerable, and therefore easiest avenues, for hackers to enter a network. A web application is software that uses a web server and not the device’s local operating system. Common examples include online storage and file-sharing. The advantage of using web applications for businesses is that they are accessible from anywhere (phone, tablet, computer), have a broad reach and can combine many platforms.
The flexibility and ease-of access that many web applications give us do come with disadvantages in terms of cyberattack risks. Since we are not going to eliminate the use of these applications, staying on top of security assessments and updates is of paramount importance. If there is a program you rely on heavily for file sharing and communication – such as Microsoft Teams – then take time to familiarize yourself with its security features and best practices.
Strategies to Help Reduce Your Risk
Don’t wait to be a cyberattack victim. Based on your business or personal needs, using the best hardware and software will help you ensure safe and long-term success.
- Keep applications up to date
- Update operating systems regularly
- Encrypt data
- Use antivirus software and “strong” passwords
- Elevate email controls
- Use threat detection tools
- Always keep your Firewall on
- Hire a cybersecurity specialist
- Purchase various iterations of your website’s URL
Proactive Prevention will Help Prevent Mishaps
The quality of a company’s software isn’t everything. Human factors remain the main source of risk, and it is inevitable that some mistakes will happen. Employees themselves are often the cause of cyberattacks on businesses. Laptops may get lost or stolen, passwords may be stored insecurely, and ignorance or lack of knowledge are all human-caused errors that can lead to a targeted cyberattack.
Make employees aware of their shared duty in maintaining cyber security. Collectively, you’ll be more aware of how to identify and therefore reduce the risk of a targeted threat.
The Cyberattack Response Plan
A response plan is needed in case of a cyberattack and this usually involves a technical and legal aspect. Let’s start with the technical aspect: the attack needs to be mitigated, meaning the hacker needs to be removed from the local network without aggravating the situation. Assessing the business impact of the attack is the legal aspect. You must identify what information the hackers accessed and speculate for what purpose. Remember that the goal of hackers may remain unknown or difficult to uncover right away. Perhaps it was personal data of clients, important information about projects or reports for investors and stakeholders. Seeking legal advice about consequences of whatever vulnerable information was accessed can help mitigate the situation.
If you use the internet, then you are at risk of a cyberattack. As these attacks evolve to become ‘smarter’ and more convincing, we must do the same with our mindset and perception so we can better identify these threats and prevent falling victim to them.
If your business requires assistance in implementing security measures, Synchroworks can help. Our skilled IT professionals will perform a collection of procedures to prevent, identify and respond to security incidents in a way that minimizes impact and supports rapid recovery.
Contact us today for more information!