CYBER THREATS: WHAT ARE THEY AND HOW CAN YOU TRY PREVENT THEM?
Cyber threats are a risk for everyone and every business and the consequences that can arise as the result of a cyber-attack can be more serious than you might think. They come in many different forms under various disguises, looking for vulnerable targets to attack. This is why cyber security professionals are constantly at war with those that attempt to breach the carefully-laid processes and systems designed to keep them locked out.
Cyber threats often occur in batch attacks that can simultaneously target each identified vulnerability within a company’s network. The most common reasons for the occurrence of cyber-attacks are monetary gain, commercial espionage (stealing trade secrets) or to cause reputational damage to an individual or company. Whatever the reason, the outcome is the same: a cyber security breach.
What are cyber threats?
If you haven’t already heard these terms, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to read up about them in order to know what potential threats your company could be faced with. These are just a few of the more common types of cyber treats.
Trojan horse: A malicious virus that masquerades as an innocent email or other form of communication in order to mislead you into opening a file and granting the virus access to your system.
Phishing: Communications that pretend to come from a trustworthy source, e.g., your bank. These messages try to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, PIN codes etc.
Pharming: A type of online fraud that takes you to a malicious and illegitimate website by redirecting the legitimate URL. Even if the URL is entered correctly, it can still be redirected to a fake website.
Worms: A standalone malware program that clones itself over and over again in order to spread to other computers, usually through shared computer networks.
Ransomware: An encryption program that quite literally holds all your files hostage and demands a payment from you in return for the promise of issuing you the decryption keys.
Spyware & Adware: Reasons never to trust those free downloads! This software collects personal information about you without your knowledge as they are installed automatically. This is an easy gateway for a virus to gain access to your network.
Wi-Fi Eavesdropping: With the increase of free Wi-Fi hotspots, so comes the increase of cybercrime. Wi-Fi Eavesdropping allows criminals to gain access to your personal information including logins and passwords by virtually “listening in” on information that’s shared over an unsecure (i.e: not encrypted) Wi-Fi network.
How to protect your business by improving cyber security:
With cyber-attacks on the rise, it’s critical to have a solid plan in place to stop hackers and cyber criminals before they can do any damage or cause any harm to your business. So, what can you do to beef up your cyber security?
Know the what you’re up against: In this case, the best offence is defense. Educate yourself about the various ways cyber intruders can gain access to protected information.
Encrypt your data: Everything from employee I.D. numbers to the company’s financial records should be encrypted with full-disk encryption tools. Also ensure that logouts occur automatically within 5 – 10 minutes of an employee being away from their desk.
Protect against human error: Cyber-attacks are no longer restricted to just our computers. Ensure that your company’s hardware is protected in the case of lost or stolen smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Using hardware-encryption on all devices and have everything linked to the cloud ensures that everything is backed up, and that the device can be tracked and erased if misplaced.
Look internally: According to a recent report 55% of all cyber-attacks come from inside a company, which means insider help. 31.5% of attacks are carried out by employees with a grudge while the other 23.5% are employees who mistakenly leave the company open to an attack. Educating your people is vital once all the right cyber security measures and are in place. Creating and enforcing internal cybersecurity protocols will send the message to discourage certain employees from taking chances. These protocols should be tested and revised every few months to ensure everything is working according to plan and everyone is up to date.