The Most Common Cyber Attacks Targeting Businesses, and How to Prevent Them

Nearly every business relies on technology to operate efficiently and profitably. But as software and hardware become more complex, so does the threat landscape. Here are some of the ways you can stay one step ahead of the people and programs trying to harm your business.

What it is:
Chances are, you’ve probably had a run-in with malware at some point. Short for “malicious software,” malware is a term used for any application or piece code designed to cause harm to or steal from a device within an organization. It is a broad category that includes things like trojan horses, viruses and computer worms, to name a few.

How to stay safe:
When it comes to malware of any type, the best defense is a good offense, and the best offense is a good firewall. A firewall is a device that can read all the traffic coming into your network, and block anything that is not approved, or is flagged as harmful. Think of it as a filtration system for your internet, letting your emails and files through, but blocking anything that could potentially harm your organization. Look for a firewall that is fast enough to keep up with the traffic coming in, and constantly updated to recognize new threats.

Phishing and Spear Phishing
What it is:
Phishing occurs when an attacker misrepresents themselves to gain information from their target. Usually, these attacks come in the form of an email, purporting to be from a trusted source such as a bank or social networking site. These emails contain links that take the victim to the attacker’s website to collect their personal information. Unlike normal phishing, spear phishing occurs when an attacker targets a specific person or group of people, and poses as an organization that they know the victim is familiar with. For this reason, spear phishing has a much higher rate of success.

How to stay safe:
Since most phishing attempts come through email, having a good email spam filter is key. Many developers keep an updated blacklist of emails and domains, so if an attacker tries to target one person, they can be flagged as spam for anyone else they email. If you receive an email that you suspect may be a phishing attempt, the best thing to do is visit the website in question (without following the link in the email). That way, you know you are visiting the legitimate site, and can update your info if need be.

What it is:
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing forms of malware, so it deserves special recognition here. A ransomware attack occurs when a company is infected with a program that encrypts the files on a computer or network, making them unreadable without a specific key, known only to the attacker. The attacker then attempts to “sell” the key to the business to unlock the files. Business owners facing extended downtime are left with a choice, pay the ransom, or suffer the cost of shutting the business down for as long as it takes to recover or replace the lost files. Even after the business pays the ransom (usually in the form of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin), there is still no guarantee that the data will ever be recovered.

How to stay safe:
One of the most often overlooked ways of defending against ransomware is to make sure your computer software is always up to date. The online threat landscape is constantly changing, and developers regularly send security updates to keep you protected from vulnerabilities. Make sure that you are running the most recent versions of programs, such as Office and Adobe Reader, as these will have the most up-to-date security measures.
Another way to stay protected from ransomware is to have a strong Business Continuity program in place. This program should involve regular automated backups of your mission critical data, as well as a plan for recovering this data quickly so that your business can avoid downtime. That way, if your business data gets encrypted by an attacker, you can easily recover in minutes, saving thousands of dollars in downtime.

Do you have questions about any of the above threats, or how to keep your business safe? Contact me today for a free consultation:

Michael Uttermohlen
Strategic Advisor, The AME Group
(317) 842-6400 x5003
[email protected]

Looking for more information about Business Continuity, and how it protects your business from ransomware and other disasters? Join our free informational webinar:

Protecting Your Data from Cyber Threats in 2018
Thursday, August 2, 2018 11:00 AM EDT

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