The current, constantly changing cybersecurity threat climate has turned security personnel into walking stress balls. Every time they see a new headline about a new breach involving a major retailer, financial institution, social media platform or healthcare organization, they wonder if their defenses are strong enough. They wonder if their organization will be next.
When the methods of attack are so diverse and the onslaught it so overwhelming, it’s impossible to fight every single threat. You need to focus on the most common types of attacks. According to a recent Microsoft report, botnets, phishing and ransomware are the top threats in 2018. Most hackers carry out simple, low-cost attacks in high numbers by letting technology do the hacking or convincing users to unwittingly provide access to restricted systems.
Phishing is an attack technique in which a hacker uses deceptive emails and websites to trick the user into clicking a malicious link, opening a malicious file, or providing sensitive data or user credentials. The scary thing about phishing attacks is that they’ve gotten a lot more sophisticated than emails from African princes who promise to wire you $1 million if you send a bank account number.
Today’s phishing attacks appear to be realistic notifications from your bank, the IRS or even your boss. They may ask you to verify information, review documents, find out about a failed delivery attempt or change a password. Hackers use real logos and clone legitimate websites, which automatically upload malware when the user visits or enters information.
Phishing emails are commonly used to deliver files or links infected with ransomware. A ransomware attack freezes a user’s computer, blocks a user from accessing certain systems, or encrypts user data. The hacker then promises to restore systems and data if a ransom is paid by a certain time.
Some ransomware attacks are threatening and intimidating, while others attempt to convince users to pay by posing as tech support or law enforcement. Of course, payment doesn’t guarantee the bad guys will live up to their end of the deal.
A botnet is a network of Internet-connected devices that work together to perform tasks. Illegal botnets use malicious code to search for and exploit vulnerabilities on connected devices, download malware, and allow the botnet owner to take control of those devices.At that point, the hacker can carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to cripple websites and systems. They can also spam Internet users and generate bogus Internet traffic to make money from ads.
There are two primary defenses against these three threats – common sense and a multilayered security strategy. Common sense tells us to look for misspelled URLs and email addresses, URL redirects, and suspicious email contacts and requests, all of which are common in phishing and ransomware attacks. Common sense tells us not to click suspicious links or open files from unknown senders. Common sense tells us not to share personal data on social media or use it in passwords.
A multilayered security strategy works to prevent phishing emails from ever reaching your inbox and botnets from reaching your network. Such a strategy closely analyzes all web traffic, alerts security teams to suspicious links and files, and automatically detects and removes malware. A multilayered security strategy also uses software that constantly looks for vulnerabilities in devices, applications and your network.
Unfortunately, there is no single tool that can manage all these tasks. Let us help you develop a multilayered security strategy and implement tools that minimize the risk of a security breach.