This article was written by the Eleven Fifty Academy, a nonprofit code and cybersecurity academy from Indiana.
Any organization that deals with sensitive data should invest in cybersecurity. The cost of cybercrime is expected to rise as businesses embrace remote work, which has opened up new vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit.
While cybersecurity risks have detrimental effects on small businesses, they also affect larger enterprises with significant resources. Companies like Target, UPS, JPMorgan Chase, and AT&T have reported security breaches that compromised sensitive information. Some of the common cybersecurity threats include:
Phishing remains the most common form of cybercrime, accounting for over 80% of reported cases. Cybercriminals use fraudulent emails and messages to trick employees into activating malware.
In most cases, the fake communication aims to steal login information and other sensitive details. The criminals go to great lengths to masquerade as a trusted organization, including setting up a website. The various types of phishing include:
1. Deceptive Phishing
Cybercriminals may include legitimate links or modified logos on phishing emails to evade suspicion. These emails will often have a sense of urgency to elicit a prompt reaction from the target.
2. Spear Phishing
Spear phishing attacks feature personalized emails that target a particular individual. For example, the email may look like your coworker or boss sent it.
Whale phishing is targeted towards high-ranking executives. Once successful, the cybercriminal will use the executive’s login information to authorize wire transfers or request employees for sensitive information to be sold on the dark web.
Preventing Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks are increasingly dangerous because hackers are constantly changing their techniques. For example, cybercriminals are targeting cloud-based applications like Dropbox, Google Docs, and Microsoft teams. As a result, no one in your enterprise is immune from phishing attacks. Prevention strategies include:
1. Train Employees
Your employees are the most vulnerable actors in your cybersecurity infrastructure. You need robust training programs that help them identify and report possible phishing attacks. Instead of short-term training, opt for a consistent program that educates employees on updated tactics and trends.
2. Use One Email System Featuring Sophisticated Security Features
A business email service system with advanced security features will detect and isolate malicious emails. The best systems will also scan all links and notify the user if they are suspicious.
3. Limit Access to Sensitive Data and High-Value Systems
It is also advisable to limit access to privileged data since human operators are often the weakest links during phishing attacks. If your company has remote workers, it is essential to haveremote access policies to dictate how they will access organizational data.
Ransomware is a breed of malware that encrypts specific files in exchange for money to restore access. Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and new-age varieties have advanced capabilities in spreading and escaping detection.
Additionally, larger companies are appearing to be as vulnerable as smaller ones to these infections. For example, the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack affected the UK’s NHS and crippled computers in 150 countries. In 2020, there were an estimated 304 million ransomware attacks across the world.
What To Do After A Ransomware Attack
Once ransomware hits your organization's computers or systems, you will need an effective response plan to take decisive action. This plan can include:
1. Isolate Infected Devices
Once the ransomware has accessed one network, it will propagate and move to other systems. Therefore, isolation should be the first step. Start by disconnecting the affected devices from the network and shut them down. Additionally, you should disconnect any shared drives as you monitor the system.
2. Protect Backups
Most ransomware varieties will target backups to discourage recovery efforts. Therefore, you should disconnect backup storage from the organization’s network or prevent any access to backup systems. Once you are confident that the malware has been contained, you can restore backup data for the resumption of everyday activities.
3. Notify Your Service Provider
The ransomware may have exploited vulnerabilities in your service provider’s systems, and it helps to alert them. By doing so, you will protect other companies from similar breaches.
The malware should remain quarantined as investigations continue. The main goal is to identify the source of the attack and the extent of the infection. You can contract a forensics company to root out the vulnerabilities that resulted in the attack. Share the resulting information with your local authorities and managed service provider.
5. Select an Option
In the event of a ransomware attack, you will have the option to pay the ransom, remove the infection, or wipe the system. While paying the ransom often seems like the quickest solution, keep in mind that you will likely end up without your data. What's more, ransom money is typically used to fund criminal activities. Often, the best strategy is to wipe systems and reinstall data and applications from safe backups.
Proactive Strategies for the Win
The costs of cybersecurity risks like phishing and ransomware will only increase as more and more companies embrace remote work. Instead of dealing with the aftermath of destructive malware, you can invest in robust cybersecurity infrastructure that protects your data and systems.