Small businesses do not make the news when being affected by ransomware however the threat is real and here are the top 4 cyberthreats and how to prevent them.
The majority of cyberthreats and cyber security breaches in a recent report were discovered days, weeks, or even months after they occurred.
Small businesses face a variety of challenges related to their lack of awareness and IT resources to defend against threat actors, cyber criminals, and hackers. Cyber attackers have shifted their sights to small businesses with fewer resources and fewer staff as enterprises increase their budgets and resources to proactively defend against the increasing number of cyberthreats organizations face.
Cybercriminals are now looking at small businesses as low hanging fruit compared to larger enterprises thanks to automated cyberattacks and supply chain attacks. With the use of automated cyber security tools, attackers can quickly expand their scale without much additional effort therefore putting small businesses in a difficult position. No matter the size of a business, everyone must have the same cyber security strategy similar to those employed by enterprise organizations.
Here are Top 4 cyberthreats and how to prevent them for small businesses.
The basic concept of ransomware is the same across the board. An organization must pay a ransom to unlock their data. A second ransom is often demanded by cybercriminal attackers to prevent stolen data from being sold online on the dark web.
There have been many high-profile ransomware attacks in the past few years that have made headlines. A good recent example is the Colonial Pipeline attack that cost almost $5 million in ransom in order to restore access to files and data.
Cyberattacks typically culminate with the use of ransomware. A payload is a program that is executed once a cyber attacker has gained access to the victim’s network. Phishing, social engineering, or web application attacks are typically the first step into a network. As soon as the hackers have gained a foothold in the network, they can start deploying ransomware to every endpoint they can reach and then demanding the ransom. Cyberthreats are a constant issue.
How To Protect Yourself from ransomware
There is no one-size-fits-all cyber security solution to ransomware prevention however preventing the initial cyber security breach is a strong first line of cyber security defense. A recent study found that enterprises received 94 percent of their detected malware by email. Preventive ransomware-related financial loss and downtime is directly tied to your employees being continuously educated about these cyber-attacks.
There are several cyber security mitigation techniques that must be used to proactively prevent a ransomware attack. After the network has been compromised, there is little that can be done to prevent a ransomware attack. Ransomware attacks can cause significant damage, but there are several ways to limit the impact to your organization.
The number of systems affected by a ransomware attack can be limited by proper network segmentation, proactive backups, and an effective incident response plan. A few encrypted systems can easily be restored from backups rather than pay a ransom to the cyber criminals.
With the use of tight firewall rules and network segmentation, this will allow your organization to separate branches of its network. Many organizations do not permit printers on their network to initiate communications with workstations and servers. A single compromised device will not give an attacker access to your entire network.
Organizations should always maintain a strong incident response policy and backup your data. Ransomware mitigation hinges on having good backups located in a safe location. This will be the major difference between paying a ransom and detecting the breach in a timely manner and restoring your data.
- Misconfigurations and Unpatched Systems
One of the biggest targets for hackers and cyber criminals is to rely on security misconfigurations that are incomplete or incorrect. When they discover the incorrect configuration settings that do not meet industry security standards, they can easily be detected by cyber-attackers and hackers.
Accidental firewall rules are not the only cause for a cyber security attack. There is also unpatched systems, broken access controls, exposed sensitive data, and outdated IoT (Internet of Things) components to consider as well. Dark web marketplaces offer tools that cyber-attackers can use to scan for these vulnerabilities the same way penetration IT consultants can do for your organization.
How to protect yourself from misconfigurations and unpatched systems
To prevent cyberthreats, cyber security is a layer multifaceted approach so you can deal with misconfigurations across all layers of your IT security. A patch management program is a good first step in removing the “low-hanging fruit” that these automated attacks target. Several automated tools can scan for outdated applications and missing patches, letting remediation be more effective. You can minimize the likelihood of a misconfiguration by providing the proper cybersecurity training to your technical staff.
- Credential Stuffing
When hackers and cyber criminals use stolen credentials, they gain access to the network. These network credentials come from breaches and are purchased off the dark web. Credential stuffing involves the use of a victim’s username and password to log into an account.
It is becoming increasingly common to run into this type of attack due to its ease of execution. The emergence of dark web marketplaces in the last decade has made it possible for cybercriminals to simply order a set of valid usernames and passwords.
Hackers can recruit a network of automated bots to attempt to log into services such as Microsoft 365, Google, AWS, or anything else after obtaining a list of usernames and passwords. They can access an account with little or no trace if they can find a valid credential set.
How to protect yourself from credential stuffing
This type of cyberattack is preventable by simply implementing multi-factor authentication and limiting password reuse. When and account is using multi-factor authentication, the cyber-attacker must also have access to the victim’s phone for every log in with valid credentials.
When an organization limits password reuse, it will prevent credential stuffing attacks. More passwords means that users must keep track of more passwords, but a breach of credential at a popular streaming service will not threaten your vital systems.
To keep track of all these passwords, a security policy requiring the use of a password manager is crucial. A password manager stores your passwords in an encrypted vault secured with a “master password” so you only need to remember one password.
- Social Engineering
Cyber criminals do not use social engineering to break into systems, they use it to compromise a person. A common form of this is an email phishing attack in which the individual is tricked into downloading malware or giving up their credentials. A multistep cyberattack often starts with social engineering.
Over 70 percent of social engineering and phishing incidents are uncovered by outside parties is even more concerning. Unfortunately, employees often do not realize that they have been phished when they fall for the cyberattack. Hackers and cybercriminals are continually figuring out new ways to cheat automated cyber security tools.
How to protect yourself from social engineering
There are many variations of social engineering, making it difficult to prepare your organization for all of it. Social engineering cyberattacks can be prevented by implementing a strong cybersecurity awareness program. Your employees will benefit from engaging and educational security content, as it will not only prepare them for what they’ll see, but also help shift corporate culture to a security-first mindset.
Bottom Line to Top 4 Cyberthreats And How To Prevent Them
Human risks that contribute to cyber security breaches cannot be minimized in a singular way. It is necessary for employees to browse the web, open emails and even answer the phone with a healthy amount of suspicion. To have a small social engineering attack surface, an organization must have a strong cybersecurity culture, policies, and procedures.
Most small businesses close within six months after suffering a cyberattack, so strengthening your cyber security posture is not just logical, it’s crucial to business survival. Proactive backups, updates, patches, and adequately cyber security training for your employees can mean the difference between business as usual and closure.
Let our complimentary data breach scan investigate if your credentials have been compromised by hackers.
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