Top 5 Cyber Attacks Businesses Should Fear

Andrew Zola
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The Equifax breach of 2017 cost the company over $275 million. How much will a potential breach cost your business? Do you have adequate resources to recover from such an attack?

With the threat of federal sanctions and damage to brand reputation, most businesses won’t survive a major cyber attack. As a result, security teams should take steps to prepare for a variety of threats.

Cybercriminals use a mixed bag of tactics to breach the system. So businesses will have to employ different prevention strategies to successfully defend against a potential threat.

Here are the top five cyber attacks you need to prepare for this year.

1. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are on the rise driven by novice hackers also getting into this malicious activity. According to research, the sale of ransomware tools in the dark web grew by as much as 2,502% between 2016 and 2017.

This means that just about anyone can quickly deploy a ransomware attack without any technical prowess. As evidenced by WannaCry and (Not)Petya, we’re all a target, and the consequences of such an attack can cripple a business.

The best way to protect your business from a ransomware attack is to ensure that all operating system updates and software patches have been installed. It’s also important to invest in robust firewalls and antivirus programs to help weed out any attachments containing malware and ransomware.

Employees also need to be trained to identify (and avoid clicking on) malicious attachments and links. This should happen on a regular basis to reaffirm the dangers of ransomware attacks.

2. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

DDoS attacks have been around for a long time, but they’re still highly effective in disrupting service to a network. This is achieved by unleashing high volumes of traffic (or data) through the network until it overloads and crashes.

For the most part, bad actors highjack multiple computers without the owner’ s knowledge to launch a DDoS attack. When businesses fall victim to such an onslaught, service will be interrupted damaging brand reputation and revenue.

This type of cyberattack is usually targeted at corporations who depend on large networks to conduct daily operations. The best way to protect your company from a DDoS attack is to monitor the flow of data in real-time to identify any unusual behavior.

3. Phishing (Social Engineering)

Phishing attacks have been around almost as long as the internet. In recent years, these spam emails have grown more sophisticated and appear exactly like emails you’ll receive from a trusted third-party.

These emails can often look like they’re from banks, coworkers, family members, and service providers asking you to click on a specific link to login or provide sensitive data.

Phishing emails are getting much harder to differentiate, so you have to double check all the details to spot a spelling mistake or a variation of the domain name that can alert you to the fact that it’s a social engineering attack.

To protect your business from phishing attacks, employees need to be trained to identify phishing attacks. Whenever there is cause for concern, these requests should also be verified over the phone or via email.

However, it’s crucial not to use the contact details provided in the email. In other words, if the suspicious email comes with a phone number, don’t call it. Instead, find the contact details independently or find it within the documentation received from the organization.

4. Exploitation of Vulnerable Smart Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been going through a period of accelerated adoption across industries. However, most of these smart devices are unsecured and can expose your whole enterprise network.

To protect your business, the best approach is to have your IoT devices on a separate network. As most of these gadgets come with default passwords, it’s also critical to change each and every one of them.

Failing to do so can quickly lead to a DDoS attack like Dyn experienced in 2016. IoT vulnerabilities can also be used as an entry point to gain access to your network, so securing these smart devices can’t be an afterthought.

5. Malvertising

Malvertising or malicious advertising is a hacking technique that compromises computers by inserting malicious code into the system. This whole process can take place within seconds whenever someone clicks on an ad with malicious code.

These ads are distributed in the same way as legitimate ads over an ad network following specific keywords and search criteria. The owner of the website where the malvert appears won’t even know that their site has been compromised, so the fact that it appeared on a trusted site doesn’t eliminate the danger.

Again, protecting your business from this cyber threat also comes down to training. Employees should be taught how to identify (and avoid clicking on) such ads. More often then not, malvertising promises things that are too good to be true, so a little common sense can go a long way to protect your IT infrastructure.

It’s also important to keep your operating system and software up to date to protect your systems when malware has been downloaded.

Protecting your business from cyber attacks will continue to be an ongoing process (to stay a step ahead of bad actors). As a result, it will help to engage in regular security audits, penetration testing, and staff training.

To learn more about how you can protect your digital assets, check out our cybersecurity solutions.