Articles by "cyber security"
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Up until recently, most people were relatively disinterested in the topic of cyber-security. Even many small business owners took little to no interest in their own security outside of basic protocols and policies. This was not necessarily because people did not care about their own security; most just felt as though they were too unimportant to be targeted and that hackers would be uninterested in average individuals or small businesses.

If you still believe that to be the case, you must have been living under a rock for the last year or so. Cyber attacks have increased in scale and sophistication, but they have also increased in frequency. The WannaCry ransomware event from earlier this year was the largest cyber attack in history, impacting over 200,000 devices in 150 countries including hospitals in the UK, a large telecom corporation in Spain, FedEx in the US and even the Russian government.

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Recent Events

It seems as though cyber attacks occur every day, with a variety of targets ranging from governments to banks to entertainment companies. Most recently, the systems of HBO were infiltrated with hackers threatening to leak scripts for the upcoming programs. While we all hate having to wait another week to find out what happens next to Jon Snow, these attacks are only indicators of a larger problem. Not to mention that these are only the ones large enough to make national news.

Small Crime

Every day, thousands of businesses are at risk and vulnerable to cyber attacks, no matter their size, status or industry. Although traditional wisdom may tell you that the attackers would seek one large score from a major corporation, it’s actually not the case at all. The majority of modern cyber-criminals would prefer to extort or steal from several smaller companies with less security and higher rates of success.

Additionally, smaller companies may have less experience with these types of security risks and fewer resources to deal with them, and they are more likely to give into demands quickly. This also carries less risk for the criminals, as penalties, publicity and pursuit from authorities may not be as extreme with smaller attacks. Cyber-crime is not like bank robbery; criminals can gain access to just as much valuable information and extort as high of a ransom from a small company as they could from a large corporation.

Combating Attacks

Ransomware and other weapons of cyber-crime are becoming more complex and wide-spread every day. A criminal can now purchase the software necessary to extort money from a small business and download it directly from the internet, meaning that it does not take a brilliant hacker to infiltrate your systems.

Prevention will be the key to combating cyber-crime on a small business level. Every small business owner should educate him or herself about the basics of security including regular software updates, MFA authentication, data backups and similar elements. In addition, every business should have up-to-date policies in place and regular cyber-security training for all employees, even those who do not deal directly with sensitive information.

If your company has already been the victim of an attack, you should immediately contact your security specialists and the proper authorities. Criminals will almost certainly threaten to destroy or release your data if you do, but this could happen either way. Even if you give into attackers’ demands, there is no guarantee that you will get all of your information back whole, and there is nothing stopping them from making the very same attack again.

Unfortunately, most victims do not regain everything that was stolen, and preventing an attack can be much simpler, easier and more beneficial than fighting one after the fact.
Tech innovation remains one of the greatest achievements of man to date. If you look around, almost everything is tech based, and it would be an entirely different world without technology. While this achievement continues to influence the way people live and conduct themselves, another challenge is threatening to wipe out the benefits of technology and that is - cyber-crime.

This is where tech savvy individuals try to manipulate technology to suit their selfish purposes. This is a very dangerous activity because it leads to data breaches, loss of money, denial of access to your own data and loss of valuable information among other negative effects.

The damage caused by cyber-crime is expected to hit $6 trillion by the year 2021 since it is one of the fastest growing forms of crime today globally. Those who suffer the most are businesses and institutions because they are the ones that are usually targeted by cyber criminals.

Common types of cyber attacks

When it comes to cybercrime, no operating system, application or hardware is immune. However, the security vulnerability is high among the applications followed by the operating systems and to smaller extent - the hardware. This is attributed to the increased development and use of applications compared to the others.

Cyber-attacks come in the form of malware which is malicious software that gets into your computer when you open an attachment or click on a link to download a file that contains such software. Another way is through phishing or pretending to be someone or something else to trick you into responding to something like an email that you wouldn’t do in normal circumstances.

Others include Denial of Service (DOS), SSL attacks, brute force attacks, DNS attacks, port scans and backdoor attacks among many others.

Cyber security vulnerabilities

  • Security misconfiguration
  • Misconfigured web servers and applications are the common ways of vulnerabilities that give entry to cyber-attacks. This is usually through the use of outdated software, using debugging modules, using default accounts, passwords and keys and running unnecessary programs on your system. All these actions can be very catastrophic because cyber criminals will easily take charge of your system.
  • Poor authentication and session management
  • Lack of proper authentication measures will expose the users’ passwords, session IDs, and even accounts. Cyber criminals will then use that information to impersonate other users or steal sensitive information that users have access to.
  • Encryption flaws
  • Lack of encryption of sensitive data, weak algorithm usage and poor key generation and management can be a paradise for cyber attackers as all this will expose your sensitive data whether it is at rest, in transit or backup. This can also happen to the user browsing data, and so you should encrypt your sensitive data with strong encryption algorithms to minimize the chances of attacker’s success.
  • Buffer overflows
  • Buffer overflow vulnerability occurs when your application puts more data in the buffer than it can handle. This will mean writing outside the buffer space where attackers will easily overwrite the content and cause program crashes, data corruption or execution of malicious code.
  • Injection flaws
  • This happens when an application sends untrusted data to the interpreter. When attackers carry out an injection attack, they can get access to sensitive data which might further lead to data loss or denial of service.

According to one of the cyber security firm Michigan based experts, cyber criminals always target systems that happen to have a particular tech flaw because it is easy for them to break in.

These are things that may be hard to detect on your own, and this is why businesses are investing in cyber security providers to shield their businesses from cyber-attacks.