If you think that your business won’t attract hackers, think again. Cybercriminals target businesses like yours — big or small — because of their apparent lack of IT security measures.

Cybercrime is an ever-present threat to modern businesses, regardless of the industry. Without up-to-date and managed cybersecurity measures, malware and successful hacks can compromise your customers’ and employees’ sensitive data and harm your systems, resulting in costly downtime, liability, and reputational disaster.

Small to medium-sized companies like yours need to think past the size of their organization and realize that everyone is at risk for cyber-attacks. Without the right tools and technology to prevent hackers from stealing your information, your organization is left prone to a major data breach.

That’s why you need the right knowledge – by understanding how the hacker thinks, you can better prepare yourself to defend against them.

Behind the Digital Curtain: How Hackers Access Your Data

Attack Vector: This is how hackers gain unauthorized access to a device or a network. Attack vectors help hackers exploit the vulnerabilities in your system or network, including your employees.

Ransomware: This is a malware program that encrypts data on a system and then demands a ransom to reverse it. The hacker encrypts your data and scrambles it so you can’t access it. Ransomware attacks and infects your computer with the intention to extort money from you. It’s installed via a malicious email attachment, an infected software download, and/or when you visit a malicious website or link.

Phishing: Phishing is a fraudulent act in which a scammer steals private and sensitive information such as credit card numbers, account usernames, and passwords. The criminal uses a complex set of social engineering and computer programming strategies to lure email recipients and Web visitors into believing that a spoofed website is legitimate. The phishing victim later realizes that their personal identity and other confidential data was stolen.

Spear Phishing: This is a variation of phishing where hackers send researched emails to or from specific, high-level targets, such as CEOs and other C-level executives.

Worm: This is a type of malicious software (malware) that “worms” its way through your network. It infects your computer and replicates across other computers, leaving copies of itself in the memory of each it infects. Worms often originate from e-mail attachments that appear to be from trusted senders. Then they spread to your contacts via your e-mail account and address book.

Unmasking The Hacker

Organized Crime (Like “Tony Soprano”): 80% of hackers are affiliated with organized crime. Hacking is a lucrative business for criminals.

Nation States (Russia, North Korea, China, etc.): Nation-state hackers target government institutions, industrial facilities, and businesses to interrupt operations and leak confidential information. Hacking can result in massive data and revenue loss.

Hacktivists (Anonymous and Shadow Brokers) Hacktivism is the act of hacking or breaking into a computer system for a politically or socially motivated purpose. They organize on the deep/dark web to set up attacks.

Lone Wolves (Intelligent, Financially Driven, Unscrupulous): The majority of people hacking are just individuals who aren’t connected to a hacking network other than chat rooms and online forums.

Malicious Insiders (Disgruntled Employees or Contractors): This is an insider with authorized system access. They have an advantage over external attackers because they have the authority to access your IT and are probably familiar with your network architecture and system policies/procedures. Most organizations focus on external threats and don’t adequately protect their confidential data from insiders.

Protect Your Data: Uncovering the 5 Key Entry Points Hackers Exploit in Your Business

These are the primary avenues by which a hacker will penetrate your business:

  1. Physical (theft, malicious USB drives, unsecured workstations): Hackers with physical access to servers may extract sensitive data while it’s in use and bypass traditional in-transit and at-rest controls. They can also simply remove a memory card from the server and read its contents on another computer.
  2. Endpoints (remote attacks on vulnerable workstations): Hackers get into computers by convincing employees to click on malicious e-mail attachments, web links, and drive-by downloads.
  3. Mobile Devices: Exploitation of iOS and Android systems. Bluetooth is one of the main security gaps by which hackers get into your phone. This is growing in prevalence.
  4. The Cloud: Cloud services like Azure and AWS have become mission-critical for many organizations. Organizations’ administrative credentials for cloud services are of high value to hackers. Attacking an organization’s cloud administrator’s account and leveraging those credentials can lead to greater data exfiltration. This can put your entire organization at risk.
  5. IoT: Internet of Things devices such as security cameras connected to the Internet are vulnerable to hackers. IoT hacking has been extremely successful for modern hackers, resulting in Distributed Denial of Service attacks that cripple infrastructures, systems, and business operations.

Your #1 Weakness – You and Your Employees

A majority of cybersecurity services offered today include the best in vital technologies, from firewalls to anti-malware to data encryption and more. However, as important as this technology is, on its own, it simply isn’t enough. The key to truly comprehensive cybersecurity is simple, yet often overlooked: the user.

Even the most effective digital security measures can be negated by simple human error. Much of cybersecurity is dependent on the user, and as such it’s vital that you properly educate your employees in safe conduct. The more your workforce knows about the security measures you have in place, the more confidently they can use the technology is a secure manner.

Humans are involved in nearly 100% of all attacks. Negligent employees are the number-one cause of data breaches in small and medium-sized businesses. Careless workers and poor passwords have led to a rise in ransomware attacks and other breaches at small businesses, which cost an average of $1 million per instance.

There are many steps that IT and management can take to secure their network. Some of the most effective ways to combat security breaches are simple tasks that can be performed without having to hire a security expert:

  • Stop hackers at the door: Your first step is to protect your network with a properly configured firewall from an industry-standard provider. While a no-name or off-brand vendor may cost less, security is really the one thing that you don’t want to cut corners on.
  • Update your software: Never ignore software update notifications. Software updates are not only to improve the functionality of the software; they also serve as a patch for recently identified vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.
  • Change your password regularly: Keeping track of your passwords can be quite confusing, but that doesn’t excuse you from changing your passwords on a regular basis. Your password is the quickest way to gain access to your accounts, and it can be easily obtained through social engineering and keylogging. Ensure that you are always protected by using an automated password management solution that enforces complex passwords and changes them regularly.
  • Install a reliable and up-to-date Antivirus solution: Threats to your institution are created every day. That’s why antivirus software providers send out updates regularly to keep your system protected from the latest attacks. Every organization should utilize a centralized/automated system that manages your antivirus to check for and install new updates on all of your systems.
  • Know which emails you should open: Just last year, thousands of systems were infected with CryptoWall, a ransomware that encrypts the files on your system and prevents you from accessing them unless you pay a ransom. The prevailing delivery method for Cryptowall and many other forms of destructive malware is an email attachment or malicious link. As a rule of thumb, never open email attachments or click on links from senders that you do not know. In your institution, this means educating your staff about the types of email attachments that they should never open to prevent costly malware damage. The good news is that there are affordable automated systems to help you inform, train, and test your employees about safe email and social media habits.

The Nexus IT team of cybersecurity experts understands that many companies like yours are often unknowingly operating on outdated security models. Our team will assess your entire environment to identify any opportunities for improvement so that you can enjoy genuine peace of mind when it comes to protecting your business. Our range of security solutions include:

  • Centrally managed Antivirus and Antimalware to keep your data safe both in and out of the office with reliable zero-day protection.
  • Active monitoring of your IT systems around the clock to detect and resolve issues immediately, before they result in costly disruption or downtime.
  • Enterprise-class backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions that keep your data recoverable and your organization operating no matter the type of emergency you enter into.
  • Email Encryption services that can keep your business communications compliant and safe from prying eyes while in transit.
  • Compliance support via a combination of Security Policies, Business Continuity, and Incident Response planning services.
  • Employee Awareness Training and Educational Programs to ensure that your users are well prepared to identify security threats and prevent costly breaches.
  • Mobile Device Management that allows you and your staff to work on the go without having to worry about data security.

For more information about hackers, today’s exploits, and cybersecurity for your business, call the experts at Nexus IT at (877) 689-6904  or (435) 659-2533.