This last year has been plagued with news about hackers gaining access to email servers, credit information, and even banking data. In fact, in the first half of 2017, about 2 billion data records were stolen or lost because of cyber-attacks. This number is expected to rise in the upcoming years. No matter if you’re a startup or a global company, knowing the risks you face and securing your data against them is a must. Here are the top 4 cyber threats and ways to mitigate them.
1. Password Attacks
Even though we’ve all heard about the importance of using complex passwords, not all users follow what they read. Using easy-to-guess passwords leaves data extremely vulnerable to hackers. There are programs that can be used to crack passwords through brute force attacks or by using a dictionary file. While it can be hard to memorize multiple complex passwords, resorting to easy passwords isn’t a wise decision.
The only real way to protect your business against password attacks is to enforce the use of complex passwords. You should require that all employees’ passwords:
- Include uppercase and lowercase letters
- Use special characters and numbers
- Are unique
- Must be changed every 6 months
It’s also important to reset passwords on any hardware equipment such as routers, switches, servers, as well as on default admin accounts. Be sure that these passwords also adhere to a strict password policy.
2. Email-Based Threats
Businesses use email for sharing all sorts of data and hackers are well aware of it. There are all sorts of email-based cyber threats and attacks that are used to gain unauthorized access to confidential business information including phishing attacks, spear-phishing attacks, and emails laced with malicious code. In fact, in 2016, two-thirds of all malware infections came from an email attachment. Since email is the backbone of all companies, knowing how to mitigate these threats is crucial for keeping sensitive information out of reach of malicious actors.
Some of the best ways to protect your business inbox include using complex passwords, deploying email filtering and scanning, as well as training your employees to know how to spot spam and/or malicious emails. Another option is to use a credible email service provider in tandem with email security services. In fact, some services can even mask your email so that you never give out your personal email when signing up for tools and accounts on questionable websites.
3. Insider Threats
These threats are sometimes the hardest to spot. Insider threats come from employees, trusted users, and even external contractors who have access to your business network. Sometimes an insider threat isn’t someone who is acting maliciously but rather someone who is acting negligently. With these threats, the insider may purposefully cause harm or disrupt access to your business network or they may publicly leak company secrets. Often a malicious insider will find weaknesses within the network and exploit them.
To protect against insider threats, user activity and access tracking combined with employee training can help. Having insight into who is accessing what as well as overall network activity can help pinpoint an insider threat. Training your users to know how to spot a potential insider threat is also important. Employees should have a method to confidentially and anonymously report a potential insider threat. Employees should also know telltale signs of a potential insider, including threatened violence, mood swings, and overall discontent in the workplace.
The use of ransomware attacks is on the rise. A study found that these attacks cause small and midsize businesses around $75 billion each year. With this type of attack, the hacker infects a computer with a virus that’s designed to encrypt data. To decrypt the data, hackers demand money. This not only leaves your business data inaccessible, the monetary demand from the criminal may put your company in a financial bind.
To protect against ransomware and these types of cyber threats, there are many steps to take. First, ensure your company has a solid approach to backing up data. In the event of a ransomware attack, you could wipe the system and start from the last backup. Since ransomware attacks usually start from an infected file in a suspicious email, be sure your employees know how to spot a bad email as well as the proper actions to take. Last, keep your software updated with the latest patches from vendors.
Cyber Threats – Conclusion
When it comes to cyber threats, knowing is only half the battle. Once you understand the risks that your business faces, you can then take the proper steps to ensure your networks, website, and other devices are as secure as possible.
If you are interested in even more hacking-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.