How to avoid 3 prevalent cyberthreats
In a digital business environment, cyberattacks are a very real threat. They’re not something that you can ignore any longer.
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to help avoid most threats and prevent them from interfering with your business.
First things first
There are several general, high-level prevention methods recommended as a baseline against cyberthreats.
Use strong passwords
This is a simple cybersecurity fix – if your password is hard to crack, then it’s that much harder for an attacker to gain access even if the network is already compromised. A strong password is longer (upwards of 64 characters!) and easy to remember but hard to guess.
Keep tech updated
Make sure that everything you use – from operating systems to firewalls to browsers – is updated.
Cybercriminals spend their time exploiting bugs and errors anywhere they can. Every day they are devoting energy to finding these potential security holes.
Keeping up to date on patches makes sure that these exploits are kept to a minimum, so take the time to set up automatic updates when available.
Encrypt your files
If an attacker gets past all of your defenses, encrypting your data ensures that they can’t make use of anything they gain access to. This is an effective safety measure, as it means that even if your network is compromised you don’t have to worry about your data’s integrity.
Utilize data backups
Data backups can mitigate cyberattacks by offering you a safety net. If an attack does occur, the damage becomes minimal.
You simply recover your data and get back to business.
Let’s get specific
Assuming all of the general bases are covered, there are more specific strategies to counter certain types of attacks.
In phishing attacks, a cybercriminal attempts to obtain information by pretending to be someone trustworthy or familiar. Avoiding these is more about how you respond to the attempt than about how secure your network itself is.
Stay current on phishing techniques
Usually, there are a couple of popular methods at any given time, so pay attention to your news feed.
Typically a suspicious email will take you to a page that appears correct but isn’t upon closer inspection. For example, if your bank asks you to update information, just navigate to the main portal on your own rather than clicking the link provided.
Check your accounts regularly
If you catch suspicious activity on one business account, you should change all of your passwords so that an attacker can’t use previous information to gain access to more.
It’s important to check in on your accounts every so often to catch breaches early.
Cybersecurity Ventures predicts cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015.
Ransomware attackers will attempt to gain access to your data so that they can block your access, holding the data hostage. There are a few ways to prevent this as well as good and bad ways to respond if you become a victim of this type of attack.
We’ve already briefly discussed the utility of data backups, but they bear mentioning again when discussing ransomware.
A ransomware attack is all for nothing when you use backups – the attacker takes your data hostage and asks for a ransom, but you restore your files and you get back to work. They’re left high-and-dry.
Don’t pay the ransom
If you’re a victim of ransomware, don’t pay the ransom. There’s no guarantee that the attacker will return or unlock your data. Furthermore, this will fund future attacks – whether on your business or someone else.
Don’t provide personal information
This will only exacerbate the situation. By providing any kind of personal information, you’re opening another potential vector of attack. Phishing attacks are often personalized to the victims, so avoid making it easier for the attacker to exploit you again later.
These types of attacks entail a third party eavesdropping or modifying legitimate communication between two points. They’re often hard to spot, and the motivation for the attack can be any number of things, from spying for data to opening up opportunities for further attacks.
IBM X-Force’s Threat Intelligence Index 2018 says that 35% of exploitation activity involved attackers attempting to conduct MITM attacks
Be wary of public Wi-Fi
Sometimes a public W-iFi connection can be compromised or the connection imitated so that any traffic moving through the point is vulnerable to the attacker.
Don’t transmit any sensitive data through a public access point, make sure you have antivirus and firewalls active when you do use public WiFi, and check their integrity regularly.
Use WPA2 on your Wi-Fi connections
WPA2 is a security protocol available to modern routers and access points. It’s not the end-all-be-all of Wi-Fi security, but it is an easy way to ensure much more safety than using an unsecured access point.
If you want to do a deep dive into communications security, look into the S/MIME security protocol
Don’t trust everything you read
That’s probably the best way to avoid cyberattacks.
Be suspicious and think critically. Do some research and pay attention. That, in addition to the tips covered above, will save you from most basic types of cyberattacks.
For the more advanced stuff, feel free to reach out to the experts and ask questions. We know cybersecurity and besides protecting you against a bigger league of attacker, we can also provide guidance on how to keep your specific network safer from attack.