Hackers will try every deceptive tactic they can find to steal data, disrupt businesses and hold systems hostage. But truth be told, some cyber criminals don’t have to try very hard. Unfortunately, many businesses lack proper security protocols, leaving their networks susceptible to data breaches and malicious attacks.
A 47% increase in cyber incidents from the same period in 2018 compared with 2017 demonstrates the dire need for heightened cybersecurity awareness. Increase your knowledge by understanding these five most common types of cyberattacks and the various methods hackers will use to hijack your systems or steal data.
1. Phishing Scams
Some hackers don’t need to rely on cracking sophisticated code to gain access to a company’s network; all they need is an unsuspecting employee who clicks on a potentially damaging email link or attachment. Employee error continues to be the #1 way hackers infiltrate systems.
Phishing scams are a type of social engineering attack that appears to come from a trusted source and can trick users into granting system access to cybercriminals. The best defense against phishing scams is to educate employees on what clues to look for.
2. Malware or Ransomware
Once a hacker gains access to a network, malicious software — also known as malware or ransomware — can be installed to hold your systems and your data hostage, or spread to other victims to corrupt files and make them unusable. Increasingly, a user may not even be aware that malware was remotely installed, and the cybercriminal could secretly eavesdrop on a network and steal personal data and intellectual property. By the time the intrusion is discovered, it’s usually too late.
Ransomware, a form of malware, can disable an entire network and cripple an organization. Hackers demand payment in exchange for restoring the system, yet there’s no guarantee they actually will once you pay up. It’s important to take proactive measures to prevent malware and ransomware attacks.
3. Hacking Vulnerable Software and Hardware
Outdated computers, software that hasn’t been updated, and legacy servers without proper firewalls create easy entry points for cyberattacks. You also need to consider the susceptibility of unsecured devices that have access to your networks, such as office printers, mobile devices, tablets, etc. Even using an unsecured Wi-Fi network while accessing company data on a smartphone could pose a risk.
Hackers can easily exploit systems that aren’t equipped with the latest anti-virus protections and software updates, so don’t delay. As soon as they become available, make system updates and upgrades a priority.
4. Compromised Passwords
Weak passwords create another major avenue for security breaches. Hackers use software to automatically generate thousands of potential password combinations in an attempt to “guess” system passwords and gain access. Many employees fail to update default usernames and passwords or use common words or phrases that are easily deciphered. Adding insult to injury, employees often use the same password for multiple accounts, applications and online services.
This poor practice can increase the severity of a cyberattack, giving hackers access not only to a company’s internal systems, but to its online platforms and services, too. Implement best practices for securing passwords, such as using multiple characters and unique word combinations to lessen the likelihood of an attack, and change credentials on a consistent basis.
5. DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service)
Sometimes hackers will gain access to a computer or an organization’s server and overload it with traffic, triggering a crash or making its website or networks inaccessible. As its name suggests, a DDoS attack denies service to legitimate users (e.g., employees, members, website visitors, account holders, etc.). Such an attack could be an act of revenge or, more commonly, an attempt to extort money from the victim.
Increasingly, however, hackers aren’t necessarily requesting payment. Instead, they render systems unusable for short periods of time — as little as five minutes — to bypass firewalls and steal data or install malware to remotely monitor systems, often undetected. By the time IT gets systems up and running, the hackers have done their damage. What makes a DDoS intrusion even more complex is that the intruder uses multiple systems to orchestrate a synchronized attack from several locations at once, making it increasingly difficult to detect the location of the attack or to identify the culprit. Know the signs to look for, such as unusual traffic patterns or slowing of systems, and rely on protection solutions that can monitor your network in real time to mitigate the risks.
These most common cyberattack tactics aren’t the only ways hackers can infiltrate your systems. As technology advances, so will their methods. Access our Ultimate Cybersecurity Handbook below to learn more steps you can take to mitigate the risks.
And consider enlisting the help of the experienced and knowledgeable IT experts at the Gordon Flesch Company to provide the highest degree of data security and round-the-clock remote monitoring of your systems. Contact us today for a complimentary assessment of your IT environment.