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Practical cyber security defenses in a digital world – The Threats

In the modern world your business’ cyber security should be at the very top of your list of concerns. Cyber criminals (more commonly known as hackers) are no longer what Hollywood portrays them as – the tech geniuses in a dark room with multiple monitors because, with the use of new technology, cyber attacks can now be carried out by any non-IT-specialist hacker. The ever-increasing use of tech in the workplace, alongside the ongoing effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, has led to a rise in the likelihood of your business becoming a victim of a cyber attack, with statistics showing that an astonishing 64% of companies worldwide have already been the victim! ¹ In the heavily digitized world that our businesses operate in nowadays it is best to tread carefully and be prepared for anything.

In the following blog series, we will help you to become familiar with the threats that jeopardize your systems. We will then use our expertise to explore why and how you should tackle them to – at the very least – lessen your chances of cyber attack.

The need for good quality cyber security defenses no matter the size of your organization

You hear it everywhere in the modern world – ‘be prepared for a cyber attack’, ‘you need to put money into your cyber defenses’, etc – but why are you hearing it? Is it really that important?

Technology – the lynchpin of modern business – without it organizations wouldn’t stand a chance of producing goods, services, or a quality of service that all of us in the civilized world have become accustomed to. As is with everything that innovates and improves our lives, there are problems that come with it. This reliance on technology has highlighted a unique opportunity for cyber criminals – allowing a cyber criminal with control – or even just access – into your system has the power to do irreversible damage to your business, and, in some cases, there will be nothing you can do about it.

Arguably in the modern world, your cyber security trumps your physical security, because you are more likely to be cyber attacked than attacked physically. This being said, many business owners don’t spend nearly as much time preparing their systems in the eventuality of a cyber attack and their systems are often left vulnerable to exploitation by cyber criminals. The efforts you go to in defending your house or business from criminals should be mirrored in your efforts to defend your systems that are relied on to function.

Let’s take a look at the methods that cyber criminals may use to attack your systems.

The cyber threats

Malware

Malware is software (malicious in nature) that is designed with the sole intention of causing harm/ damage, or with the aim of being the vessel for the cyber criminal to steal your data. Malware can take many forms and either strike immediately or lay in wait, acting in the background unbeknown to the user. Malware is more commonly managed by a group instead of an individual; the group are looking to make money – most commonly by selling the Malware over the dark web or by skipping that step and simply spreading it themselves.

Phishing attacks

Phishing scams – the most common of all cyber attacks – come in many different forms, the most common of which is when a cyber criminal takes a false identity with the intention of extracting sensitive information directly from their victim. The false identity adopted by the cyber criminal is usually someone trusted or at the very least familiar to the target individual. This is why the most common vessel for an attack of this kind is via email – not only is it the quickest and easiest form of reaching their desired target but also one of the few ways that their ruse may be believed.

Ransomware attacks

Ransomware is a type of Malware commonly associated with file encryption. The idea of the attack is to force victims into paying a ransom in order to gain back access to their encrypted files or disabled systems. The hackers infect a device – or, in the worst-case scenario, your entire system – which will then be followed by a message to you demanding an extortionate amount of money on the promise they will give you a ‘decryption key’ to regain access to your system.

The cyber criminals will threaten the victim with the deletion or distribution of that sensitive data should the ransom not be paid when specified. This pressure is such, in an already often stressful time, that it leads some business owners to simply pay their attackers, trusting they will get their data back and regain control. This is a ridiculous way of going about things – criminals are exactly that, criminals! They lie and cheat to get their way, so the likelihood of actually getting your data back is very unlikely even if you do pay the ransom. The right course of action is to avoid becoming a victim in the first place, which can only be achieved by being educated on the risks and alert to those risks whilst also having technical security defenses in place.

In the following blog in the series we will take a look at the likely business impact of doing nothing and leaving yourself undefended from cyber attacks.

Guaranteeing you are cyber secure

By trusting us with your IT needs we can guarantee that your organization is ready for anything that cyber criminals can throw at it. Our experience in working with small businesses in Ontario and the Great Toronto Area allows us to ensure that you can increase revenue, secure your data, always operate at peak performance, and – most importantly – operate in the most secure way possible. Contact us now to find out what else we can do to improve your IT landscape and bring you even more benefits from your IT going forward.

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