It seems that the shift to remote work triggered by the Coronavirus pandemic has also led to a dramatic increase in cyberattacks.
According to the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2021 that examined 6,000 businesses from Europe and the United States, the number of companies targeted by cybercriminals climbed from 38% to 43% in the past year. Almost a third of the companies surveyed faced five or more attacks, and 17% said that the financial impact of these attacks threatened their future. Cyberattacks have a greater financial impact on smaller companies, with 5% of them reporting expenses of $300,000 or more per attack.
We’ve witnessed an increase in all types of cyberattacks, but ransomware is the most notable. The attacks have become more sophisticated and high-profile.
SolarWinds, a company that provides software for enterprises, was hacked last year, and through it, nine federal agencies and roughly one hundred private sector companies were compromised.
This year in March, an attack that exploited Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities impacted more than 30,000 organizations in the United States.
Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the US, paid a ransom of $4.4 million after cybercriminals hijacked its network and forced it to shut down.
Hackers also targeted Apple through Quanta, a Taiwanese company that manufactures MacBooks and other products.
Other organizations have also come under attack, including the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Oxford University Lab.
Cyberattacks have become a significant expense for large companies as well. The hacking collective Sodinokibi made more than $123 million, according to figures from the IBM Security X-Force, and this is just one group.
The good news is that there are measures you can take to reduce the risk of having your company’s systems compromised by cybercriminals.
Monitoring and Response
Cloud servers provide us with far better monitoring than systems that are installed locally. Employees can evade monitoring on local servers by installing VPNs, proxies, or special apps on their computers. This isn’t possible on a cloud server because everything is hosted and tracked in the cloud.
Incident response improves as a result of better monitoring. If a security breach occurs, the security teams can react quickly because they can identify the threat much faster.
On a local system, attacks usually begin with just one device controlled by one individual employee with access to the network.
Multi-factor authentication is a security feature that requires users to provide proof of their identities in multiple ways. Instead of simply entering their username and password, they have to, for example, also input a code delivered to their phone via text message.
This means that even if hackers get access to the user’s password, they still won’t be able to break into the system. Multi-factor authentication has become a standard protocol on cloud servers, but it’s still almost unheard of on local systems.
Backup and Data Recovery
While companies should take every possible precaution to prevent cyberattacks, the reality is that they still sometimes happen, and in that situation, your priority is to get your systems back and running with minimal downtime.
This is another area where data centers and cloud servers can be very useful because your files can be backed up automatically on multiple locations, so if a cyberattack does occur, you can easily recover the encrypted data.
This is far superior to the backup and recovery options available on local systems. Backing up data on local systems typically requires downtime, while on cloud systems, it’s done automatically, which means that you’re less likely to lose valuable information, and you can restore your system to a more recent version.
Educate Your Employees
Employees are sometimes unaware of how dangerous their online activities can be, which is why you should provide them with training about cybersecurity best practices, warning signs they should look out for, and what to do if they think there has been a breach.
Furthermore, if your company allows employees to connect their own devices to your network or store company information on them, then the training should include guidelines on how to secure these devices.
Establish a Security Policy
If you want to protect your company, then you need to establish a security policy that includes cloud computing and social media security. As more sensitive information is stored digitally, it’s important to define security protocols for every aspect of your business.
You’ll want to also have an incident response plan in place and run practice tests to make sure your staff understands what to do and identify potential shortcomings in your procedures.
Learn about Emerging Trends and Risks
You’ll, of course, want to learn more about cybersecurity and potential threats yourself. Here are some of the most prevalent types of cyberattacks to be wary of:
- Hacking – The most common types of hacking involve gaining unauthorized access to your email account and systems, which allows hackers to view, transfer and manipulate sensitive data.
- Phishing – Phishing involves getting access to passwords, banking details, and other sensitive information through phony websites that are designed to look authentic – for example, made to look like the website of a bank or another company that the target does business with. The victims are usually directed to these websites via email.
- Social Engineering – Humans are often the weakest link in cybersecurity, so social engineering is a common and very successful strategy. It involves gaining the trust of a person associated with an organization in order to gather the information that will allow hackers to gain access to the organization’s network to steal data. It includes phishing, impersonating staff, and even going through the trash to look for important documents.
- Malware – Malware is short for malicious software, which hackers use to gain access to networks and information.
- Identity theft – The information obtained by hackers can also be used to commit fraud by using someone’s personal identifying information.
- DoS and DDoS – Denial of Service and Distributed Denial of Service is a cyberattack that uses a vast number of computers to overload a company’s servers. Hackers often use botnets or zombie computers, and since the traffic originates from a wide range of IP addresses around the world, it’s difficult for network administrators to defend against these types of attacks.