We don’t like it any more than you do, but if we have learned anything at all over the past several years, it’s that security absolutely needs to be a priority for all small businesses. In the face of high-profile ransomware attacks that can snuff companies out of existence, what are you doing to keep your own business secure? To put things in perspective, we’ve put together a list of some of the more common threats that all companies should be able to address.
Common Security Threats for Businesses
The following list of threats should give you an idea for how to start securing your business. You can never prepare too much for a potential security breach, so take the time now to get ready for what will inevitably come down the line.
Some viruses are little more than an irritation, whereas others are incredibly disruptive to operations. They are basically bits of code that can harm your computer or data. Viruses are known for being able to spread from system to system to corrupt data, destroy files, and other harmful behavior. You can get viruses through downloading files, installing free software or applications, clicking on infected advertisements, clicking on the wrong links, or opening email attachments. Fortunately, modern antivirus software has gotten really good at protecting computers, provided that your software is up-to-date. For businesses, it’s best to have a centralized antivirus on your network that controls and manages all of the antivirus clients on your workstations.
Malware is malicious software that performs a specific task. A virus can also be considered a type of malware, albeit more simplistic in nature. Malware comes in various forms according to its purpose, such as spyware for spying on infected machines and adware for displaying ads in extremely intrusive or inconvenient ways. The major takeaway here is that you don’t want to deal with malware in any capacity. It’s often installed on devices under the radar, and unless you are actively looking for it, it’s entirely possible that it can run in the background and cause all kinds of trouble without being detected. You can get malware through the same processes as viruses, and the same antivirus solutions can help you to resolve malware as well.
Phishing attacks are mediums to spread other types of threats rather than actually being threats in and of themselves. Hackers might try to send out spam messages with links or infected attachments aiming to get the user to download them or click on them. When they do, the device is infected. Some phishing attacks are so inconspicuous that they can be hard to identify.
There are other types of phishing attacks as well, some of which try to get the user to share sensitive information or send money to the cybercriminal. Cybercriminals can spoof legitimate-sounding email addresses and use psychological hacks to convince the user to act in a certain way. It’s the most common way that hackers see results, so you should be aware of it.
Ransomware is so dangerous and high-profile that it is deserving of its own section. Ransomware locks down files using encryption and forces the user to pay a ransom in order to unlock them, usually in the form of cryptocurrency. Recent ransomware attacks are also threatening to release encrypted data on the Internet if the ransom is not paid, something which basically forces the user to pay up and gets around the possibility of restoring a backup.
Denial of Service (DDoS)
Denial of Service and Distributed Denial of Service attacks occur when a botnet, or a network of infected computers, repeatedly launches traffic at a server or infrastructure to the point where it just cannot handle the load, effectively disrupting operations and forcing it to shut down. Sometimes this happens with websites or services, so it’s no surprise that businesses can suffer from them, as well.
Trojans (also called backdoors) install themselves on devices and work in the background to open up more opportunities for hackers later on. These can be used to steal data, infiltrate networks, or install other threats. Basically, if a hacker installs a backdoor on your network, they can access it whenever they want to; you are essentially at their mercy.
Zero-day vulnerabilities are those that were previously unknown to developers but are currently in use by cybercriminals. These zero-day vulnerabilities are problems because when the developer discovers them and issues a patch, cybercriminals can identify the vulnerability based on the patch, and then exploit users who haven’t installed the patch yet. There is not much to be done besides keeping your software up-to-date, monitoring your networks for issues, and trusting the developers to issue patches as they discover security problems.
User error is a critical issue for many businesses. Your business is made up of people who perform tasks and work toward objectives. If one of these employees makes a mistake, it could leave your business exposed to threats. Thankfully, a combination of best practices and security solutions should be enough to minimize user error, and with some security training under their belt, your employees should have a good idea of how to handle it.
Get Started with Security Solutions
Point North Networks, Inc., can equip your business with the tools you need to be successful when protecting your organization. To learn more, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.
Phishing attacks are some of the most common threats out there. Hackers will craft messages or web pages designed to harvest information from your employees, be it through suspicious requests for credentials via email or through false websites that look so much like the real thing that it’s no wonder they were tricked. How can you make sure that your employees don’t fall for these dirty tricks? It all starts with comprehensive phishing training.
So, what goes into a successful phishing training program? Let’s take a look.
Phishing training involves exposing your team to simulated real-world scenarios in which they might encounter a phishing scam. It’s worth mentioning here that phishing can potentially involve much more than just a simple email containing requests for sensitive information or forms on websites asking for credentials. Phishing can come in the form of phone calls, text messages, and other communication mediums. Therefore, it becomes of critical importance that your staff have the skills needed to identify these phishing scams in whichever form they take.
As for what this phishing training might look like, it depends on the context. Training might take a more passive approach with videos, but it also takes on more active approaches with interactive workshops and hands-on training exercises.
One of the best ways to get a feel for how well your employees understand phishing attacks is to test them without them knowing it using these simulated attacks to see who takes the bait and who doesn’t. In this way, you can get a sense for how they would react under normal everyday circumstances. This type of threat awareness is important to gauge where your employees are in regards to cybersecurity, and it can give you an idea of which employees need further training.
We want to emphasize that phishing training is not about calling employees out on reckless behavior; rather, it’s about corrective practices that can help your business stay as secure as possible long-term. It is better to find out which of your employees struggle with identifying phishing attacks in simulated situations than when the real deal strikes, after all.
Look, we all want to trust our employees to do the right thing and know better than to click on suspicious links in emails, but at the end of the day, wanting something and actually getting it are two entirely different things. We need to accept reality and admit that hackers can and will succeed in their phishing attempts if we don’t do anything to prevent them. The best way to keep phishing attacks from becoming a nightmare scenario for your business is to implement comprehensive training practices and consistently reinforce them with your staff.
Point North Networks, Inc., can give your employees the training they need to keep from falling victim to phishing attacks. After working with our trusted IT professionals, your employees will know how to identify phishing attacks and how to appropriately respond to them without risking your organization’s security. To learn more about our phishing training and other security services, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.
The first half of this year has seen its fair share of ups and downs, especially on a global scale. With a global pandemic still taking the world by storm, it’s despicable that hackers would take advantage of the opportunity to make a quick buck using phishing tactics. Yet, here we are. Let’s take a look at how hackers have turned the world’s great misfortune into a boon, as well as how you can keep a lookout for these threats.
According to reports from SecureList, spam and phishing trends in Q1 of 2021 relied heavily on COVID-19 and the buzz generated by it. Let’s take a look at some of the major threats that took advantage of the pandemic.
Stimulus Payment Scandals
The first couple months of 2021 saw businesses and individuals receiving payments from governments, such as economic impact payments or business bail-outs. Hackers took advantage of this opportunity to try to convince users to hand over their credentials through the use of messages that both looked and sounded professional. As is often the case with phishing messages, some users of specific banks were targeted through the use of near-identical websites designed to steal credentials and fool users. Others tried to convince users to enter information by convincing them that the latest details on the bank’s COVID-19 practices could be found on the other side of links or sensitive information forms.
The Vaccine Race
For a while, the COVID-19 vaccine was a bit tricky to get your hands on. While things have improved significantly in recent months, the initial rush to get vaccinated triggered many would-be hackers to try their hand at vaccination phishing emails that replicated the look and language of communication from health officials. Users would have to click on a link in the message, which would then redirect them to a form for plugging in personal information and, in some cases, banking credentials. Even those who already received vaccinations were not safe, as there were fake surveys circulating urging people to fill them out and claim prizes for doing so.
What You Can Do
Don’t let hackers take advantage of the cracks in your business’ defenses. Phishing attacks can come in countless forms, so it is your responsibility to protect your business from them. Here are some ways that you can make sure your organization is secured from phishing attempts.
- Filter Out Spam: A spam filter can keep the majority of threats out of your inbox, but the unfortunate fact is that most phishing emails are probably going to make it past the spam filter. Therefore, you will want to take more advanced tactics against these threats.
- Train your Employees: Training your employees on how to identify threats gives them the power to avoid threats that do manage to get past your defenses. Teach them what to look for and you’ll be giving yourself a better chance of overcoming them.
- Implement Unified Threat Management: No matter how well trained your employees are, it helps to have just a little bit of reassurance that you have done all you can to secure your business. This is what a UTM does; it’s a single security solution that can optimize your network’s protection.
Point North Networks, Inc., can help your business keep itself secure. Not only can we implement great security solutions, but we can also help to train your employees, including regular “tests” where we send out fake phishing emails to see who is and is not paying attention. To learn more about how this can help your organization, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.