There are a number of ways that your business can be threatened on the digital frontier. Where once upon a time all you had to deal with was being undercut by your competition or how the market is doing, but those days are long past. The modern business mogul must be constantly aware of one of the most common and dangerous threats: cyberattack from bad actors bent on stealing your money and ruining your day. The interconnectivity that has brought the world together and made international business possible has also opened the door for bold new kinds of danger.
It’s more important than ever for your business to be protected. We’ve teamed up with digital security experts to provide a vendor security assessment of the most common kinds of cyberattack and what you can do to either prevent or respond to them. The tools and methods used by the average hacker have grown more powerful and sophisticated, and understanding what you’re up against is your first and best line of defense against them.
Ransomware is one of the more insidious styles of digital malfeasance a business might have to deal with and can devastate your operations. It’s a common threat and relies on both its simplicity and its brutality to extort a person or organization. A hacker infiltrates your network through any number of means and, once they have access, either locks you out, encrypts your files beyond your capability to deal with, or both. They then typically issue a demand or list of demands, holding your network and your files hostage until you comply. While access can be gained via traditional virus or computer worm, the most common method is good old fashioned social engineering to get a user to hand over passwords and access keys directly. It doesn’t matter how the hacker gains access; what defines ransomware is what they do when they have it, making it a unique kind of attack.
Compared to other kinds of cyberattack, ransomware is relatively new. The most famous and one of the most successful of these attacks is the WannaCry ransom of 2017, which was the attack that put ransomware on the map and into the public consciousness. A full breakdown of the attack can be found here. A vulnerability in the Windows operating system allowed the perpetrators to gain network access, where they encrypted all of a target’s files and demanded exorbitant amounts of money to unencrypt them. Those targets were all high profile, including the likes of FedEx, Boeing, McDonalds, several hospitals, and even government agencies. By the time a kill switch was discovered in the ransomware’s code, the hackers had already made off with millions of dollars.
WannaCry’s kill switch was indicative of earlier, cruder methods of ransomware, and modern variants rarely have something so simple to prevent it. Today, experts agree that the best defense is to prevent them from happening at all. Once a bad actor has network access, there’s nothing that can be done. Doesn’t it make sense to prevent that access in the first place? For this, your own IT capabilities might not be enough. Delegating to a digital defense expert might not be a bad idea, especially given that ransomware has the capability of literally ruining your business beyond your ability to recover.
Man in the Middle
Man in the Middle attacks, or MitM, is one of those methods that can give a hacker access to your network, and you might not even realize it until it’s far too late. Man in the Middle is popular because it draws little to no attention and might not even touch your network directly at all until access is obtained. This method involves someone intercepting company communication from network to network and extrapolating information from that communication. The most common bits of intelligence collected in this way are network passwords, financial information (including account numbers and passwords), and incriminating or sensitive information that can be used for blackmail. It’s so dangerous that companies have axed profitable programs and apps to prevent it,
The intelligence doesn’t even need to be on your company directly; if a hacker can find blackmail information on one of your employees, that can be more than enough to coerce them into handing over information or access. Once again, prevention is key. Avoiding public networks for communication is obvious, but there’s so much more to it. Your best bet is to hire a consultant who can protect your network and files, find vulnerabilities in your network, or both. Capabilities are evolving and keeping up with all the methods used by the bad guys can be overwhelming. Only understanding and vigilance can keep you and your precious business safe.