Cybersecurity is constantly evolving to keep pace with new threats and cyberattacks. One example of a cyberattack is a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attempts to disrupt the normal operation of a targeted server, by literally overwhelming the target with a flood of bogus Internet traffic. Experts have forecasted that the cost of cyberattacks will more than triple by 2025 to $10.5 trillion worldwide compared to $3 trillion in 2015. The pandemic also left its mark on cyberattacks, as many cybercriminals shifted their focus to target remote workforces with weaker security measures. The following are some of the leading cyber threats targeting businesses:
- Social engineering attacks. Cybercriminals use psychological manipulation to try and trick people into sharing sensitive information. They build confidence or make the target feel like they need to take urgent action. Phishing scams are some of the most well-known social engineering attacks, and they’re increasing in complexity. Remote workforces are particularly vulnerable. They are tempting targets, as they often connect to their employer’s network from home, and their home security is usually much weaker than that in the office. Cybercriminals have perfected their phishing scams so that their communications, graphic, logos and links look legitimate. Employees should be wary of emails that urge employees to immediately reset their password, share sensitive data, download an attachment, or click a seemingly innocuous link. Emails with spelling and grammatical errors should also raise red flags. Training remote employees on cyber safety is one of the more effective methods to mitigate these attacks.
- Work from home risks. Cybercriminals are interested in more than gaining access to remote employees’ employers. The employee may have a treasure trove of information on their personal devices that are just as appealing to a hacker. Home networks aren’t as well protected, and many people use weak passwords for their Wi-Fi. Employees can protect their home assets by monitoring connected devices using their Wi-Fi, password protecting all devices and business accounts, and disconnecting devices when not in use. Other protection measures include renaming Wi-Fi networks to avoid identifying themselves (i.e., no names or addresses) and using complex passwords for Wi-Fi networks.
- Ransomware. Ransomware attacks are among the oldest cyber threats, and they haven’t changed much since their inception. The basic concept involves tricking a user into installing malicious software. The software then attacks and encrypts all the data found on the computer or network, effectively locking out the owner. The hackers then demand money from the victim in exchange for their stolen information. Ransomware continues to grow because most companies can’t afford to lose their data, so they are often motivated to pay. It’s often less expensive to pay the ransom than to start over, which further fuels the proliferation of this type of cyberattack. Businesses can mitigate this risk by enabling two or multi-factor authentication, updating all software regularly, and never installing software without knowing its source.
- Denial of Service (DDoS). As mentioned above, a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack attempts to disrupt the normal operation of a targeted server, by literally overwhelming the target with a flood of bogus Internet traffic. The goal of a DDoS is to timeout the server, or overwhelm the related infrastructure, rendering the server unable to handle legitimate incoming requests. The difference between a DoS and a DDoS is based on the number of IP addresses the attack uses. If the hackers utilize multiple IP addresses, it’s called a Distributed Denial of Service attack. These are more difficult to prevent, as the server or firewall must shut down multiple simultaneous attacks from varied IP addresses. A robust firewall can often be used to thwart these types of attacks.
- Mobile threats. Employees regularly use their smartphones to conduct business. They send emails, log in to apps, and save passwords onto their phones for convenience. While smartphones can facilitate many business interactions, they are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Some security weaknesses include logins that don’t require pins or biometrics, free Wi-Fi, and malicious apps. Employees should avoid using free Wi-Fi, particularly for work purposes, and saving passwords on free Wi-Fi or their phones. Using lock codes, updating software often, and only using official app stores for downloads can further insulate employee smartphones from cyberattacks.
- Cloud server vulnerabilities. Saving information on the cloud is a convenient way to share significant amounts of data across a disseminated workforce. It’s fast, enables more efficient collaboration, and drives better engagement. However, all that data housed in one location is a tempting target for hackers. With more companies relying on cloud computing during the pandemic, this risk rose exponentially. Businesses can mitigate this threat by strictly controlling access privileges, as not all users need permissions for every folder and file. Multi-factor authentication is also a must, as is using cloud-to-cloud backups should the company ever need to recover compromised data. Businesses can also use a cloud VPN to connect employees securely to the private cloud network.
Sometimes, no matter how well an organization prepares for and protects against cyberattacks, a cybercriminal may breach company data. Should the implemented cyber safeguards fail, a cybersecurity insurance policy can help recoup the costs and losses of a data breach. Contact Windermere Insurance Group to learn more about protecting your organization from cyberattacks and other cyber threats.