Cyber security measures are constantly evolving, and it is vital to remain ahead of new challenges and threats that continuously arise. In order to safeguard your organisation, a comprehensive and resilient IT security system is your first line of defence.
The Ukraine War, energy crisis and economic uncertainty have led to a surge in cyber threats. By exploiting these fears, opportunistic cyber criminals entice people to unwittingly open a backdoor to access your IT systems. In doing so, they wreak havoc across your organisation as well as potentially any third parties you deal with. Thus, damaging your organisation and your organisation’s reputation.
The best protection is awareness, education and IT support. That’s why our team has compiled a list of the five most common cyber security threats to be aware of and how to protect against cyber-attacks.
Here are the top 5 threats to cyber security:
1 Malware and ransomware
What is malware and ransomware?
Malware is a type of software that is designed to exploit vulnerabilities, damage and destroy computers and computer systems. Examples of common malware include viruses, worms, Trojan viruses, spyware, adware, and ransomware.
Let’s talk about Ransomware in more detail. It is a type of malware that encrypts your data, holds it hostage and then demands a ransom to decrypt your own data. In some cases, ransomware will also threaten to delete your data if you don’t pay the ransom within a certain period.
How does malware and ransomware work?
Malware can be spread via dangerous links, downloads, or attachments that, when clicked, download malicious software into a computer or infect a website.
Once malware has been installed on a computer, it can have a variety of devastating effects, including corrupting files, stealing personal information, and rendering the computer unusable.
As stated earlier cyber threats are continually evolving and ransomware attacks are on the rise and show no signs of slowing down.
How to protect against malware and ransomware?
There are steps you can take to protect your organisation from malware and ransomware attacks including:
- Keep your computer and software updated
- Think twice before clicking links or downloading anything
- Be careful about opening email attachments or images
- Don’t trust pop-up windows that ask you to download software
- Limit your file-sharing
- Use reputable antivirus software
- Back up data to allow access even if the data has been maliciously encrypted
What is a phishing attack?
A phishing attack is a type of electronic cyber-attack that targets a broad audience and is used to steal user data such as login credentials and credit card numbers. They can also be used to install malware on a victim’s device.
How does phishing work?
A phishing attack preys on human error. It occurs when an attacker, disguised as trusted entity such as your bank, energy supplier or government body, tricks a victim into sharing sensitive data by enticing them to open an email, instant message, or text message.
How to protect against phishing?
To protect your organisation from phishing attacks, it is important all employees are aware of the warning signs that an email or other forms of electronic messages may be malicious. Advise staff never to click on links or open attachments from unknown senders. If they suspect that someone in the organisation has been the victim of a phishing attack, then immediately contact IT support.
3 Man in the middle attacks
What are man-in-the-middle attacks?
A ‘man in the middle attack’ is a cyber security threat in which a hacker secretly intercepts a communication between two parties. These types of cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common as cyber criminals are rapidly evolving and finding new and clever ways to exploit vulnerabilities in networks.
How does a man-in-the-middle attack work?
Interrupting the connection, the hacker assumes the identity of one of the users and relays messages between the two parties who believe they are communicating with each other – this is known as ‘eavesdropping’. By ‘eavesdropping’ a cyber-criminal can control the conversation enabling them to steal or alter the data being exchanged.
How to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks?
To protect against man-in-the-middle attacks, it is important to:
- strongly encrypt traffic between the network and devices using browsing software
- verify the identity of the parties involved in a communication
- always make sure sites accessed are secure
4 SQL injections
What are SQL injections?
SQL injections are an extremely serious form of cyber-security threat in which malicious code is inserted into a server using SQL, the Server Query Language. The malicious code can force the server to reveal confidential data or take other action.
How does a SQL injection work?
The malicious code, from an untrusted source, can force the server to reveal confidential data or take other action. SQL injection attacks are most commonly the result of an attacker entering malicious code into an unprotected website comment or search box. This can allow an attacker to access data, modify and damage it or even destroy the website.
How to protect against SQL injection?
All companies maintaining websites should prevent attacks by ensuring that all user input is properly validated and that all SQL queries are executed with appropriate permissions. A good web developer should help protect from SQL injection by writing secure code that doesn’t allow for the injection of malicious code into an application to protect the site.
5 Spear Fishing
What is Spear Fishing?
Spear phishing is a highly sophisticated form of phishing. Fraudulent emails are tailored to specific individuals and organisations to gain access to confidential data over a prolonged period.
How does Spear fishing work?
By impersonating a trusted sender, the ‘spear fisher’ can trick an individual into opening an infected link allowing the hacker to bypass security measures – like email filters and antivirus. Consequently, the cybercriminal gains access to an organisation’s network and data. This can kick off a chain of events that enable cyber criminals to break through small businesses weak security and open a gateway to hack into larger organisations.
How to protect against spearfishing?
Implementing training programs that educate employees about spear phishing and how to spot red flags such as misspellings or poor grammar will help prevent these types of attacks. Organisations should also implement advanced cyber security controls to detect and block spear fishing such as email filtering and virus scanning.
Find out how to protect your business from cyber security threats by contacting a member of our team today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 510 0110.