Are you keeping a close eye our for possible breaches at your organization? Often, businesses are not aware of cyberattacks until after the damage has been done. Of course, there are varying approaches - some go for the big show of wreaking havoc and interrupting operations while others quietly infiltrate on the lookout for privileged data. But no matter how an organization gets hit, it's going to hurt.
Knowing common ways cybercriminals infiltrate your business is the first step in preventing cyberattacks. Attackers will use any number of methods available, from "simple" social engineering to malware to even more sophisticated techniques in order to gain undetected access to computers, servers, websites, mobile devices, and other systems connected to your network.
Because of this, it is key to educate employees at all levels about the importance of good cybersecurity habits and identifying different ways cybercriminals can infiltrate your business.
Chances are you’ve heard of phishing attempts. We post about it here and talk with users about it all the time. That’s because phishing is a very common tactic, and it can easily fool users who aren’t vigilant or informed of what to look for. A recent survey revealed that 3 out of 4 organizations have been victims of phishing.
A phishing email is a cleverly designed communication that appears to come from a trusted party. Many times it tries to take advantage by creating a sense of urgency, getting them to drop their guard and trick the recipient into divulging credentials or downloading malware. That information can then be used to access private accounts, or the malware may enables them to infect and infiltrate devices on the network.
Aside from accidentally and unknowingly downloading malware from an email link, there are other ways cybercriminals infiltrate your business using malware. Cybercriminals can take advantage of website vulnerabilities to implant malicious software that appears safe. For example, an infected webpage might prompt you to install harmful software disguised as an inconspicuous link or download. We run into this a lot when users try to download unnapproved software, the site has the real Download button somewhere on-screen while popups and sidebars show others along side it. And it's not always clear which is which.
3. Outdated Hardware and Software
Hackers rely on vulnerabilities in outdated software and hardware to infiltrate a system. Updates often contain important security patches and if you don’t update regularly, you leave your IT infrastructure vulnerable to a cyberattack.
4. Compromised Wi-Fi
A wireless network without proper security is another one of the common ways cybercriminals infiltrate businesses. Whether it's poor password strength, old/weak encryption algorithms, or a failure to segregate network segments properly, many organizations make it all too easy for bad actors to get into their systems.
And using public wireless is never a good idea! You don't know how well the party offering the free wireless secured their network, and it's often easy to connect to networks masquerading as a legit network, like at airports. Put simply, when you join a public wireless network, you are opening the door for others to access your data.
5. Hijacked Accounts
An attacker that manages to successfully acquire a person’s email password, like with a phishing email from above, can then hijack the account and use it to discover additional private information. With access to that individual’s email account, they can discover a more about the business and often can use those same credentials to infiltrate the network even further. A common ploy is to ensnare others in the organization who may not question the validity of messages from their friends and co-workers.
Create a Plan
The list above is by no means exhaustive, there are countless other tactics one might employ. It’s more important than ever to develop a strong cybersecurity plan; you can start by implementing practices like:
- User trainings
- Simulated attacks
- Regular network and device updates
- Frequent data backups
- Strong credentials and authentication systems
- Limiting access appropriately (the Principle of Least Privilege)
With a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, you’ll minimize the risk of a data breach and ensure your daily operations can continue in a smooth, efficient manner.