The term cyberattack is used to describe the attempt of unauthorized access to an organization’s network with the intent to access/steal and/or destroy sensitive and confidential information such as user information, passwords, credit card information, etc. Cybercriminals/bad actors/hackers try to identify vulnerabilities in network infrastructure/information management systems and exploit them for personal or financial gain. Businesses of all types and sizes have been victims of cyberattacks in the past. As per Statista, nearly 8.51 million cyberattacks have been carried out in 2022 so far. Cyberattacks are predicted to only increase in the future. Small businesses often have very limited resources and are most vulnerable to cyber attacks as they don’t have network security and monitoring systems.
TYPES OF CYBERATTACKS
Cyberattacks are of numerous types, the most common ones include:
Phishing: A technique to make users click phishing emails with malicious links and obtain credit card information, passwords, and other sensitive information data.
Malware: A type of virus intentionally designed to damage/disrupt or block access to key components of the network. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts user data. Cybercriminals often demand money as ransom to give back access to users
Man-in-the-middle attacks: Also known as Eavesdropping attacks: Hackers who insert themselves in between user devices and networks to filter and steal data.
Cyberattacks are consistently evolving, leaving it impossible for businesses to detect these without specialized equipment and security programs. Various techniques such as sandboxing, zero-trust network access, secure web gateway, firewalls, data loss preventions, identity management, and many more are used to secure organizational networks and prevent unauthorized access.
WAYS TO PROTECT/MITIGATE A CYBERATTACK
1. Developing a Cybersecurity Plan: A cybersecurity plan also involves developing an incident response plan. It is easy to mitigate malicious attacks when there are processes and procedures designed for them. Businesses should proactively test their cybersecurity plan and update it as per their requirements.
2. Defining Employee Access: Businesses define and limit access to company data and resources thus reducing the risk of cyberattacks. Hence, employees should have access to systems and programs as per their ranks and needs.
3. Data Backup & Encryption: Store data in multiple places for a greater flexibility. Encryption reduces risk of theft, destruction, or tampering of sensitive data/information.
4. Updating Systems & Software: Updating fixes flaws and vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
5. Using Multi-Factor Authentication also known as MFA: MFA is a security process that verifies the user identity before providing access to the end user. MFA includes pins, verification codes, biometrics, or physical keys such as Forti Token.
6. Using Firewalls & Antivirus Programs: Firewalls filters all incoming and outgoing traffic and safeguard internet connection by encrypting information
7. Email Spam Filters: Spam filters reduce the number of spam and phishing email received by users and thus lowering the chances of employees clicking a phishing email.
8. Updating Passwords Periodically: A very basic and effective way to minimize and prevent unauthorized access is updating passwords regularly. Make company policies to create alphanumeric passwords with special symbols and characters. The length of the passwords should be 8 or more. Use different passwords for different programs and update them periodically.
9. Investing in Monitoring Systems: Businesses can invest in a threat intelligence system to prevent attackers from stealing information. These systems have databases on various vulnerabilities gathered from different sources which allows them to design an appropriate response plan.