What Do Cybersecurity Services Help Prevent?
Cybersecurity is the responsibility of everyone in your organization, not just the IT department. Executive positions such as the CIO (chief information officer), CISO (chief information security officer), and CTO (chief technology officer) are becoming more and more common, as leaders recognize the impact of cybersecurity on the business as a whole.
Whether or not you’ve already fallen victim to a cyberattack, it’s worth having a proactive approach to see what kind of threats your company may face. Although you don’t have to memorize the model numbers of your firewalls, being aware of these persistent cyber threats helps to promote a culture of IT security within your business.
Why Should You Use Cybersecurity Services?
1. Business disruptions
IT security isn’t just about your data, but about preserving your business continuity as a whole. For example, criminals have launched cyberattacks against manufacturers by causing their machines to malfunction, shutting down operations and losing revenue.
Even scarier is the possibility of a cyberattack against a national infrastructure system such as water or electricity, or against hospitals and healthcare providers.
There are many reasons why attackers might seek to disrupt your operations. Some are looking for direct financial gain, while others are “hacktivists” sending a political message. Regardless of the cause, the majority of cyberattacks have damages of $500,000 or more.
2. Phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are ubiquitous in the world of cybersecurity: 91 percent of cyber attacks begin with a phishing email. However, it’s one thing to recognize this statistic, and another thing to effectively prevent phishing attacks in the first place.
For one, phishing emails and calls aren’t always obvious. Many try to impersonate banks or companies that you’re familiar with, using a sense of urgency so that you’ll react without thinking rationally (e.g. an email with the subject “INVOICE OVERDUE”). These messages usually contain links or attachments that will attempt to steal personal or sensitive information.
Malware—short for “malicious software”—is software that can damage or gain unauthorized access to a system. There are many different types of malware, from viruses and Trojan horses to worms and ransomware.
This last threat, ransomware, is particularly malicious. Ransomware encrypts all the data on a device and requires you to pay a “ransom” in order to decrypt it. Imagine someone entering your house and putting all your valuables in a safe, and then demanding payment in order to open it. The most insidious part of ransomware is that it can easily spread to other devices on your network and even to your data in the cloud.
Other forms of malware include “spyware,” which collects information on users without their knowledge, and “adware,” which displays advertisements to users and can hijack their Internet activity, redirecting them to an advertiser’s website.
4. Business identity theft
Both your staff members and your organization itself are at risk of identity theft. Even savvy employees can fall victim to “spear phishing” attacks, which target specific individuals or groups using information about the target.
In addition, “business identity theft” is a new form of attack in which criminals impersonate a business in order to harm its reputation or discover trade secrets. According to data and analytics company Dun & Bradstreet, business identity theft increased by 46 percent year over year in 2017.
Committing identity theft is actually fairly easy, requiring only a few pieces of data. For individuals, this may be their address and Social Security number; for businesses, this may be their staff directory and list of clients.
5. Distributed denial of service (DDoS)
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack disrupts the normal operations of a targeted server, service, or network by overwhelming the target with a flood of malicious Internet traffic. This is akin to a massive crowd of people standing outside a store, preventing legitimate customers from going inside.
DDoS attacks can be devastating to companies with a heavy online presence, such as e-commerce businesses that will be unable to make sales during the disruption. For example, the October 2016 Dyn cyberattack used 100,000 bots to temporarily bring down platforms such as Netflix, Spotify, PayPal, and Twitter.
6. Website defacement
Imagine what could happen if malicious actors were able to take control of your website or social media platforms. Cybercriminals could post fraudulent press releases, delete web pages, expose sensitive information, and more.
While you could likely restore your operations eventually, such an attack might destroy your business relationships and reputation among your customers. Techniques such as SQL injection, password hacking, and cross-site scripting (XSS) are common exploits that criminals use to take control of a website.
7. Intellectual property (IP) theft
A data breach isn’t just an embarrassment for your company—it may also spell the end of your business. Criminals may steal your financial information or trade secrets, as well as private health data that must be kept confidential under HIPAA security rules.
IP theft is also a national security risk. Plans for military technologies such as the F-35 strike fighter and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System have been stolen by foreign adversaries.
8. Data destruction and manipulation
Some hackers seek to undermine an organization’s own trust in the integrity of its systems by deleting and manipulating data. For example, security researchers were recently able to seize control of an industrial robot arm, subtly sabotaging its operations. Even if you can identify the problem, the vulnerability will still be there as long as you use the same technologies.
9. AI-enhanced attacks
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have transformed the business landscape, but they can also be used for both good and ill. For example, “adversarial AI” can search for customized attacks based on liabilities in your systems and networks. This field is still relatively small but growing quickly, with more attacks expected in the next three to five years.
No Business is Immune
Whether you’re a tiny startup or a massive multinational, no business is automatically immune to the threat of cyberattacks.
There’s a lot of ground to cover with IT security, but the good news is that a little effort goes a long way. Check out our ebook 10 Simple Things to Improve Your Company’s Cybersecurity Posture to learn more.
In today’s fast-moving, fast-evolving cyber threat landscape, many businesses decide that they need to join forces with an expert managed services provider (MSP) to help reduce their cybersecurity risk. IT security partners such as Kelser can analyze your specific situation and recommend the best way to move forward.