Think for a minute- what is your business? First, the answer might sound so simple like running a marketing agency that runs trend analysis and brings out the best content, or perhaps, a highly corporate tech firm developing sophisticated software and all the cool stuff. However, a deep realization will show that your business is mostly “data”.
Those trend analysis scripts, spreadsheets over spreadsheets of numbers, your strategy reports, financial documents, electronic records of employees, and software source codes – all of them are data. Now what happens when your data gets stolen and used against you? Your business was booming only yesterday but overnight your data got breached and now you are facing trials as your clients have sued you for the exposed information. Trust us this is not a rare sight at all and also a genuine reminder of why cybersecurity is a must for your business.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the concept of cyber-security and cyber-crime as they go much beyond what the cliché Hollywood movies have taught us them to be. If you are a concerned person and want to know about the best ways to safeguard your business with cyber security then you have come to the right place. In this blog, we will take you through a detailed walkthrough of what cyber-security really means and what are the effective ways you can deploy to protect your business from cyber threats.
What is cyber-threat?
Before delving into what cyber security is, it is imperative that we know what we are dealing with- what cyber threat is. Simply put, cyber threat is any attempt to breach, damage, or abuse data. These threats could be man-made such as malware attacks, Phishing attacks, DDoS attacks, or from other sources such as natural events that disrupt data, or accidents that can lead to corruption or damage of data. So just like a hacker phishing for sensitive credentials is a cyber threat, a fire that may destroy your data servers is also a cyber threat. Again, man-made threats could be intentional such as Ransomware attacks, or completely unintentional such as setting weak passwords- anything that leaves chances of data corruption or theft is a cyber threat.
However, in most cases, since natural and non-man-made reasons are too many and random, cyber threats, for most people, are man-made attacks on sensitive data. Now, with the evolution of technology, there are ample ways for how perpetrators can gain unauthorized access to data. Some honorable mentions are as follows-
- Malware attacks: Malware is software that is designed to harm or exploit computer systems. Malware can include viruses, worms, Trojans, and other types of malicious software.
- Ransomware attacks: Ransomware is very common among cyber threats. In this case, the perpetrators send a “payload”, a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files into some inaccessible format. The hackers then demand payment in exchange for the decryption key while in most cases, although paid, the victim never gets the key. Such attacks are very likely among users using bootleg or cracked software collected from unknown sources such as torrent sites.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks: Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks involve intercepting communications between two parties. This can allow the attacker to eavesdrop on conversations or steal sensitive information.
- Compromised credentials / weak and stolen credentials: Cybercriminals can use stolen or weak credentials to gain access to sensitive information. This can include usernames and passwords, as well as other forms of authentication.
- Malicious insiders/insider attacks: Malicious insiders are employees or contractors who use their access to an organization’s systems to commit cybercrime. This can include stealing sensitive information or sabotaging systems.
- Misconfiguration: Misconfiguration refers to the improper configuration of systems or applications. This can leave them vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
- Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves tricking people into giving up sensitive information. This can include usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information.
- Trust relationships / third-party / supply chain: Cybercriminals can exploit trust relationships between organizations to gain access to sensitive information. This can include third-party vendors or suppliers.
- Zero-day vulnerabilities: Zero-day vulnerabilities are security flaws that are unknown to the software vendor. Cybercriminals can exploit these vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information.
- Brute-force attack (and dictionary network attacks): Brute-force attacks involve trying every possible combination of characters until the correct password is found. Dictionary network attacks involve using a list of common passwords to try and gain access.
- Denial of service and distributed denial of service: Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks involve overwhelming a system with traffic so that it becomes unavailable. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks involve using multiple systems to launch a DoS attack.
What is cybersecurity?
Now that you have a complete picture of what kind of cyber threats to expect in your business and how they work, let us consider the effective strategies to safeguard your business data against these threats.
Safeguarding business against cyber-threats: The effective strategies
- Maintain proper backup: Backing up your data in multiple sources could be a lifesaver, especially if they are necessary to keep your business running. You never know when the next attack is going to happen or when the server room might be on fire. Maintaining proper backups in separate places is a prevention method much more effective than recovering lost data.
- Use strong access credentials: set proper access credentials such as passwords for your business data. Make the passwords as random and as unpredictable as you can. Do not use plain letters or numbers as they are vulnerable to brute-force attacks. Rather, mix them up with symbols and special characters making the passwords more than 10 characters long.
- Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring users to provide two forms of identification before accessing their accounts. This can help prevent unauthorized access to your accounts.
- Apply proper data encryption: Encrypted data is useless to hackers even when stolen, unless they can decode it. Invest in state-of-the-art data encryption methods such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) or Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) for your business data.
- Use authentic anti-malware software: Would you fire your security guards and replace them with chickens because the cost would be much less? Then why compromise your valuable business data with cracked anti-malware software? Invest in authentic anti-malware and anti-virus software, instead, as, first of all, there are no risks regarding the source of the software, the system is regularly updated with the state-of-the-art and if you are subscribing for enterprise usage, you may also get dedicated software support. The benefits are simply more than free bootlegs containing potential ransomware.
- Regular drills: In a significant number of cases, hackers use social engineering, phishing, and other means to lure employees to expose access credentials. Running regular drills creating simulated events and making employees conscious about the threats and risks is a very effective way to avoid such adversities.
- Monitor your networks: Monitoring your networks can assist you in detecting cyber-attacks before they do major damage. You should keep an eye on your networks for odd behavior and examine any suspicious activity as soon as possible.
- Update security measures on a regular basis: Keep software up to date with the most recent security patches and upgrades. Firewalls, antivirus software, and other security measures are examples of this.