It doesn’t matter how hard you try and fight it, there’s always going to be someone with too much free time on their hands planning their next cyber attack in a bid to become the biggest nuisance possible - and you could be the next victim.
As the world becomes more connected with advanced technology, it means hackers are coming to better grips with it too, and it’s clear to see because these occurrences are becoming more frequent on a worldwide scale, ranging from attacks on the NHS to Sony’s entire PlayStation Network being taken down.
If major organisations can be taken down with relative ease, this just shows that no businesses are safe from attack.
Sure, you installed a free antivirus last year and thought that it would keep you safe because it said it would, but the reality is that you’re going to need to take extra measures.
There is more than one type of threat to be prepared for; each with a different motive and subsequent solution, but they all could have major effects on your business.
To stay ahead of the game if you ever encounter an attack, here are four types of cyber attacks you and your business could potentially face:
2. UNPATCHED OR OUTDATED SOFTWARE
All of these cyber threats can be dangerous to your business, here are all four explained in more detail...
Jargon Check: Phishing is a type of online scam where attackers send an email pretending to be a legitimate company, asking you to provide sensitive information where they could then take usernames, passwords, credit card information and more.
The method of phishing is often used in other cyber threats too, such as ransomware and are the primary vector for malware attacks, but phishing alone has still proven to be an effective tool for hackers with individuals in companies falling for the trick.
Those pesky internet fraudsters mainly send out an email which features a malicious attachment or link, and claim to be legitimate and established enterprises with Apple and PayPal proving to be popular choices hitting inboxes in 2017.
Usually, phishing emails are easy to detect if you’ve been made aware of the clear warning signals. Massive companies aren’t going to be making silly spelling and grammatical errors when they send you e-mails, nor will they ask you for personal information or to click on links for verification.
The principal of phishing attacks is the same as fraudulent phonecalls which people are well-educated on. You may have seen recent ad campaigns like this from Barclays.
While many would spot this from a mile off, there could still be individuals in your business that fall for this scam and end up clicking on the links or attachments provided. If they’re doing it at home, then that’s not for you to worry about, but if it’s on YOUR premises on YOUR computers with YOUR information being given away, then yeah, you’ve got a problem on your hands.
The hackers want your sensitive data, whether it’s personal or financial and it could prove to be very costly for you if your data is breached, especially if you’re a larger organisation. What it means for your business is that you and your clients’ personal and financial records could now be in their hands and they could be free to do what they want with it, whether to use them or sell them, either way, it’s malicious.
It’s detrimental enough to you as an individual, while it could leave the future of your business hanging in the balance, depending on the amount of damage that’s been done.
UNPATCHED OR OUTDATED SOFTWARE
Jargon Check: A patch is a piece of software designed to update a computer programme to fix or improve it, along with fixing security vulnerabilities. If software is unpatched, it means you’re more vulnerable to attacks because it isn’t secure, while outdated software means you haven’t updated security fixes, which also leaves you vulnerable to attacks.
This is something you can control as it’s in your hands, but so many still fail to see the dangers of unpatched and outdated software on their systems that they’re leaving themselves vulnerable to potential cyber attacks.
Businesses like yours should be well versed on the type of software you’re all using, along with their timetables for security updates of their products. If you download updates when you’re asked to, then you’re putting yourself in a better position to remain safe.
On the other hand, if you continue to run software that is out of date, then you’re only increasing the risk of attackers finding certain vulnerabilities which will then allow them to take full control of your systems - leading to them potentially gaining access to personal and financial data.
It’s self-explanatory; if you’re continuing to use old or unpatched software for a lengthy period of time then you’re putting your business at a bigger risk of being attacked where they can have full control of your data and you’d be powerless to get it back.
It’s vital that you or somebody in the business in a dedicated role ensures the whole business is up-to-date with security and programme updates, so you’re at less risk of being breached.
Jargon Check: A denial of service (DoS) is an attempt to make a server or network resource unavailable to users, which is generally done by flooding servers with communication requests.
While DoS uses a single system and a single internet connection to attack a server or network, there is a level above this which is far more popular and common - and a much bigger threat.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) instead uses multiple systems and internet connections - as opposed to one - to flood a server with requests, and this makes it much more difficult to counteract.
Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons
DoS attacks have become quite common in an attempt to compromise an organisation’s system, and are usually infected with a Trojan which they use to overwhelm an online service where you may be limited to what you can and can’t do in your business, such as accessing important information which could have a domino effect on the rest of your day.
This can be a major blow for your business. For example, if you are a publishing-based company where you have targets to hit based on the amount of content you publish each day, these types of attacks won’t allow you to connect to servers.
What that means is you could lose valuable days without being able to produce anything until it’s been resolved, and you’ll be missing out on a lot of money because of this big setback.
Jargon Check: Ransomware is a malicious type of malware you’d usually find disguised as an e-mail, where the malware is encrypted by a company’s data file before a ransom note is displayed on-screen - demanding that you pay a sum (typically in bitcoins) in exchange for the release of your data and files.
It’s clear to see why ransomware is quickly becoming a favourite amongst hackers, as they are recognising the financial benefits of employing a tactic like this.
Credit: Twitter user @fendifille
Being blackmailed by someone you know, even for a joke, can be pretty annoying, so imagine how you’d feel when a complete stranger on the other side of the world is blackmailing you to pay.
It’s not a great situation to be in, and it can be quite a frightening prospect to face when you consider there are people who actually spend time in creating harmful ransomware to hold company information hostage, and they often succeed.
Just ask the NHS.
They were crippled in 2017 in what many are calling the biggest ransomware attack in history with staff reverting to pen and paper and having to cancel appointments and turn away patients after ransomware scrambled their data and were being asked to stump up with $300 - $600 in return for their files.
So, just imagine what happens to your business if you’re hit by an unsuspected ransomware attack. In businesses like yours, the blunt truth is that you’re not going to be able to access your data at all, which means you’re not going to be able to get any work done, especially if your company is reliant on computers and technology in general to function at all. A ransomware attack means no access, resulting in you not being able to function and in turn, you’ll be losing both time and money and it might not end there either, as ransomware can even decide to leak your data to the world if you don’t pay up or even increase payment demands.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR NETWORK FROM RANSOMWARE
You wouldn’t be blamed for often overlooking these types of threats, especially ransomware as nobody logs on and believes they’re going to sit face to face with a screen effectively blackmailing them into paying for data they already own.
If you want to learn more about ransomware and how to prevent it from happening, check out our free eBook: