Businesses Avoid Cyber Security at Their Own Peril

Businesses Avoid Cyber Security at Their Own Peril

According to a 2016 Munich Re poll, up to 90 percent of United States businesses fall victim to hackers each year. Businesses don't suffer security breaches because they aren't trying to protect themselves; they simply lack the expertise necessary to protect an organization from modern hacking techniques.

Does your business lack an IT staff that truly understands the intricacies of modern cybersecurity? If you're trying to get by with basic knowledge and hoping that hackers decide not to target your business, you avoid cyber security at your own peril. These are some of the ways in which hackers prey on organizations that fail to adopt comprehensive cybersecurity procedures.

Zero-Day Exploits

Every piece of enterprise software that your company uses -- from your server's operating system to your website's content management system -- represents a potential point of intrusion for a hacker. If a hacker manages to escalate his privileges on one system in an integrated business network, he can potentially gain access to any other system in the network.

You've probably concluded that the best practice is to keep your enterprise software updated. With updated software -- and your critical systems behind firewalls -- you can lower the chance of a successful intrusion.

Keeping your enterprise software updated doesn't fully protect your organization from hackers because software updates can't account for zero-day exploits.

A zero-day exploit is a software vulnerability that has just been discovered, and no patch exists for it yet. In the hours or days before the maker of the software learns about the vulnerability and distributes a patch, hackers can run wild with the exploit -- and your business could be one of the targets.

The modern cybersecurity approach: Today, network and data center administrators utilize machine learning to understand the typical behavior of hackers. If a network user behaves in an abnormal way, an intelligent system can automatically block the user or flag the session for immediate investigation.

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

For a business that hosts its services on its own servers, defending against a distributed denial of service attack is critically important. Have you convinced yourself that your organization isn't likely to experience a DDoS attack? Think again -- DDoS attacks hit about half of all companies.

Once a DDoS attack has compromised a network, a hacker can plant malware that causes further damage.

The modern cybersecurity approach: Machine learning greatly helps to mitigate DDoS attacks by recognizing illegitimate requests and throwing them out. Hackers have gotten more clever, though, by creating new scripts that more accurately mimic the behavior of real users. Security firms have also set up honeypots -- intentionally vulnerable servers -- to attract hackers and identify the IP addresses that they use.

The best defense against DDoS attacks, though, is to have a network that's nearly impossible to take down. A cloud network has such massive bandwidth that a small DDoS attack can't easily overwhelm it.

Cloud providers also frequently use multiple data centers around the world. If a hacker manages to take one data center offline, the cloud provider can simply roll its operations over to another data center.

Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts the files on an infected computer -- sometimes rendering the computer's full hard drive inaccessible -- and demands a ransom payment from the victim in exchange for the decryption key. Ransomware is one of the greatest fears of many companies because it can infect a computer in many different ways.

A hacker can plant ransomware if he gains access to a network. Employees can encounter ransomware in malicious Facebook apps or on websites hosting pirated music. Hacker's can even trick an employee into downloading ransomware willingly by attaching it to an email message that appears to be from the employee's supervisor.

If ransomware manages to take hold, recovering the encrypted files is nearly impossible. Even some IT security professionals have admitted to paying ransom demands.

The modern cybersecurity approach: Because a ransomware infection can occur as a result of an employee's error, defending against ransomware is difficult. Antivirus software can help, but no antivirus solution can protect against every threat that exists.

The better solution is to ensure that your business has no vulnerable files by maintaining backups in multiple locations. If you have backups of the files on a compromised system, you can simply wipe the system -- you lose nothing but a little time because all of your crucial data still exists in your backups.