Globally and in the United States, cybercrime has dramatically increased during the past few years. Criminals have created inventive new methods to hack into corporate IT systems for their own gain, with the average cyber-attack costing US businesses $18,000 in 2022. This is because they have grown more confident in the wake of turbulent global events like the conflict in Ukraine and the Covid pandemic.
Even while attacks on smaller companies don’t get as much attention as those against big organisations, almost half of all cyber breaches happen to companies with less than 1000 employees, needing a variety of stringent technical precautions and cyber security processes.
Although threat protection systems like firewalls and antivirus software are essential, they should be utilised in conjunction with a culture of cyber security vigilance, particularly given the majority of data breaches are still user-initiated. This post will provide a brief overview of some of the most prevalent internet threats as well as some preventative measures your team may take.
If your staff are unaware of the strategies and techniques cybercriminals deploy, they risk putting themselves in danger. A smart place to start is by introducing your staff to some of the most prevalent and dangerous online threats.
Malware is a combination of the words “malicious” and “software,” and it refers to a variety of malicious code that is used by hackers to corrupt data, harm hardware, and steal files, frequently with the intention of receiving a quick financial reward. Typical forms of malware include:
- Ransomware, arguably the most dreaded kind of malware now in use, often encrypts files or prevents access to systems with the promise of restoration if a charge is paid. Unfortunately, hackers frequently break their word and refuse to return access or files after receiving their payment.
- Remote access trojan (RAT). Hackers can remotely take over target computers thanks to remote access trojans. Anti-virus software frequently misses the presence of such malware, which gives criminals access to data and applications without the end user’s knowledge.
- Spyware programmes use a number of tactics to covertly gather data from computers and send it back to the hacker so they can use it. In order to compromise accounts, hackers frequently utilise “keyloggers,” which record manually entered username/password combinations.
- Trojan virus impersonates legitimate software to trick users into activating it. When these applications are run, hackers may be able to steal from, corrupt, harm, and exploit systems in a manner similar to the other malware kinds on this list.
- Inaccurately, the terms “viruses” and “malware” are sometimes used interchangeably. Viruses are a sort of malware that may replicate and spread to cause harm over an entire network. Much more data may be at risk as a result of their capacity to propagate amongst computers connected to the same network.
- Botnet software. In order to perform potentially more lucrative attacks, hackers commandeer sizable groups of network-connected endpoint devices using botnet software. Phishing, DDoS, and password-hacking attacks, as well as other attack types, are frequently launched through botnet attacks.
Important cyber countermeasures include firewalls, anti-virus software, email filtering, and quick patch management, although these technical safeguards aren’t perfect. To lessen the threat from malware, make sure your staff adheres to best practises for online safety:
- Execute email attachments only if you can confirm the sender’s identity with absolute certainty.
- Be extremely wary of internet pop-up advertisements, especially those that offer rewards or product discounts; if anything seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Unless you have a mechanism to confirm the legitimacy of a request, avoid entering account credentials. If in doubt, get in touch with the person in question through a route of communication you are confident is legal.
- Only download programmes and files from reliable, trustworthy sources, and make an effort to restrict downloads to those that are really necessary for work.
- Don’t connect unidentified removable storage media to work computers, and turn off “autorun” to stop malware from being automatically executed in files.
A wide variety of cyber-attacks focusing on persuasion and emotional manipulation are referred to as “phishing.” Phishing scammers frequently employ urgent language and passionate language to persuade victims to divulge private information, provide money, or download dangerous files.
Up to 90% of data breaches are thought to be the result of email-based phishing schemes, therefore it’s critical to acquaint your team with the tricks these con artists use. Common phishing scams include the following:
- Business email compromise. High-ranking business executives are impersonated in this increasingly popular phishing scam, which frequently employs the technique known as “email spoofing.” Such frauds frequently have as their final goal the transfer of money or the gathering of sensitive information.
- Spear phishing. This targeted phishing scam persuades the target person that a request is legitimate by using publicly accessible information (like posts on social media). Spear phishing campaigns have a greater success rate than more straightforward types of phishing since they need some prior investigation on the part of the fraudster.
- Smishing and Vishing. Although email is the communication method most frequently associated with phishing, it is not the only one. Vishing scams use phone calls, whereas “smishing” scams use text messages. Both employ the same coercive strategies as email-based phishing, using emotion as leverage such as fear, haste, and enthusiasm.
The fight against phishing scammers requires the use of email filters. By checking incoming mail against some of the most prevalent indicators of suspicious correspondence, such as the usage of links in the email body and overtly coercive language, these filters are able to detect phishing efforts.
However, it is inevitable that some malicious emails may get past the filter’s defences. Encourage the members of your team to remain alert when processing emails…
Encourage users to cross check the sender’s email address. Scammers who want to pass themselves off as reliable people or organisations frequently utilise email domains that are similar to but not exact matches to those of the real company. Users should be urged to carefully check email addresses for typos.
Furthermore, emphasise the need for extreme vigilance if a request appears to be authentic and is issued from a public email address like Gmail or Yahoo because such emails are highly unlikely to come from a reliable source.
Urge caution when it comes to attachments. Encourage your staff to approach email attachments cautiously. There is hardly ever a need to distribute things internally as email attachments in the era of cloud storage. Encourage staff members to confirm the sender’s identity before opening any attachments in emails that come from outside your company, especially if the attachment was unexpected.
Be wary of emotive language. Phishing scammers utilise emotive rhetoric to persuade their victims to make hasty, foolish judgements. They frequently place emphasis on the need to act quickly to avoid negative outcomes (your account has been compromised, reset your password here) or give a potentially unusual opportunity (a limited-time offer or reward that must be claimed) with a deadline. In the face of such strategies, exhort your staff to use extreme caution.
Avoid clicking “reply.” Many things can make incoming mail seem suspicious. Although the sender’s address might be genuine, the content and sentence structure seem odd or filled with mistakes. Or perhaps you received an email from someone posing as a supplier, but the email was actually sent from a personal account as opposed to the company’s domain. Encourage personnel to reply to any suspicious emails by utilising the sender’s catalogued email address rather than the “reply” button. This will make it easier for you to swiftly separate legitimate inquiries from fraudsters.
Stay watch for our upcoming article when we’ll discuss other steps you may take to protect your network from cybercrime.
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