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The Major Cybersecurity Threats of 2018… So Far

VirtualArmour Team

October 19, 2018

It seems like every year a plethora of cybersecurity threats are unleashed on the public. Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their tactics in order to steal and compromise important information.

Over the past 12 months, we have seen the frequency – and severity – of cyber attacks reach a level of normalcy that large data breaches, such as the recent Equifax or Facebook hacks, are gaining coverage on mainstream media. Many people even know the names of various exploits and malicious programs: NotPeya, Locky, and WannaCry all dominated the international news as online hackers were able to breach huge company securities and cost them billions of dollars. The cybercriminal “underground” network will continue to evolve and grow.

Just over the past couple of years, it’s become simpler to become a cybercriminal. One doesn’t even have to have a lot of technical expertise – just the ability to find the proper tools. The more the media sensationalizes the success of cyber crimes, the more likely cyber thieves are to take notice.

Original Cybersecurity Threat Still Kicking in 2018

What is that ever-constant threat you may ask? Human error.

Unfortunately, the majority of breaches and issues involving cybersecurity are caused internally from your very own employees being unaware of the implications of their actions or overlooking that extra step to keep everyone’s data safe. There are, of course, also internal bad actors with malicious intent that knowingly expose your network/data to vulnerabilities and exploitation.

Before we tackle the big threats heading to a server near you in 2018, let’s have a refresher on the basic cybersecurity measures that should be the default precautions taken to secure your business from outside trouble. All employees should be aware of and properly trained to employ the preventative measures available to them.

Basic Cybersecurity Measures

Below are a few avenues available to all businesses that will help establish security fundamentals. We recommend working with a dedicated security professional or MSP like us to ensure your cybersecurity is appropriate for your needs.

Create the Strongest Password

Not just a strong password, but an inorganic password that isn’t easy to guess or strings together naturally.

Different institutes, business, and such have different password creation requirements. Lafayette University created a strong password guideline for you to ironclad your password regardless of criteria. Set it and don’t forget it.

Another option for robust password security: multi-factor authentication.

Use a Trusted Anti-Virus

Not all anti-virus protection software is created equal and viruses threaten your technology daily. Not only do you want to deploy a virus protection program from a reputable company, but also one that is constantly up to date on the newest hacks and viruses.

Regularly Backup Data

Backing up data regularly and on a set schedule can minimize potential risks associated with data loss and system tampering.

Utilize a Firewall

As the name states, anything incoming and outgoing needs to be granted access to pass the wall of fire.
Firewalls are electronic drawbridges that act as the entryway and exit for all signals and data being sent back and forth. Among other things, they monitor traffic, create checkpoints, and check for unauthorized access.

Shield your networks and devices by installing customized firewalls able to protect your network from the outside world. A strong firewall with a specialized set of security protocols will greatly increase your level of protection.

Learn more: managed firewall services.

Restrict Access to Sensitive Information

Limit access to sensitive data to only authorized users. This will allow for easier tracking of who is accessing what information. The activity that shows up outside the network or by users outside will make it easier to narrow down the issues and quickly implement a plan to rectify it.

Encrypt All Data Where Applicable

Data is always at risk of being vulnerable and it’s most vulnerable during transfer. Encryption helps by masking the data while it is sitting to when it is being transferred between two nodes. Don’t ever be without it.

Hire a Cybersecurity Specialist

Other than training your employees to be aware of and employ the basics of cybersecurity protection, it is still a great idea to consider investing in a quality cybersecurity expert or competent managed services provider.

Having a cybersecurity specialist on hand proactively managing your security will give you peace of mind and time to focus your efforts on other aspects of your business. The last thing any company needs is a major data breach.

Today’s reality demonstrates a need for a meaningful investment in cybersecurity as it becomes easier and less expensive for bad actors to gain access to sophisticated tools.

The Importance of Preventative Measures

Never underestimate the power of prevention. Time, money, and resources spent now includes all of that and potentially much more saved later.

Proactive Prevention vs Passive Reaction

Passively reacting to security problems that arise instead of anticipating potential issues can eventually come back to deal compounded damage.

Getting proactive about developing new strategies or identifying possible gaps in security can provide protection in the long run as new attacks make themselves known.

Cybersecurity Threats of 2018: Old & New

Third-Party Risks in Doing Business

These are data breaches from working with another business or people outside your own team. Once data leaves your servers, that’s it. It’s now up to the people in possession of it to take care of its safety, so how do you protect your data when working with third-parties?
Taking preventative measures for this one can boil down to how you safely exchange and monitor the information shared between parties.

  • Know who you’re doing business with
  • Know what data is being shared
  • Know what applications or mediums are being used to interact with and share data

When hiring contractors, temp workers, or third-party companies, vet them and ensure you understand them, their business, and their intent.

Remote Workforce

Having people work remotely means there is a potential for sensitive data to be taken off-site and exposed for others to take and use it how they wish.

A remote workforce is convenient and cuts down on costs, but also poses the risk of costing you in the long run if precautions aren’t taken from the get-go. Take the necessary steps by being aware of what data your remote workers have access to, and how it’s being used and presented.

Data Breaches & Loss

These days data is a hot ticket item to be used outside their intended purpose. That being said, stealing data is a constant threat that has seen a rise in data loss prevention tactics to counteract the unending string of data hacks that see no sign of letting up.

Data leaks can damage all aspects of a company, its employees, and its clients. It is advisable, not just in 2018, to invest in data loss prevention in the long run.

Everything Connects to the Internet

The Internet of Things is Now a Reality
In 2018, just about everything connects to the internet. Your phone, your car, your television, even your refrigerator. Having multiple devices connected can create unforeseen complications if you’re not careful. With such convenience comes great responsibility in being aware of not only what is connected, but how it is connecting.

Held Hostage by Ransomware

Protect your data by keeping it backed up in a secure location, multiple in fact.

Ransomware involves a hacker holding your systems hostage via encryption and on lockdown. When the ransom is paid the hacker relinquishes control back over to the original owner with a decryption key.
Do not think you are safe in the event this happens and you get your system back. Find and fix the breach immediately or risk further digital hostage situations.

Smartphone Associated Risks

Smartphone Security is Critical
Smartphones are without a doubt absolutely everywhere in 2018. With everyone in possession of a phone, we are now walking signals actively sending and receiving information from the digital sphere. Whether it be data roaming, downloading applications, or browsing the web.

As a precaution, many businesses that deal with sensitive information disallow smartphones past a certain point. Others only allow company granted phones on the premises to prevent breaches in security that could have easily happened with a personal phone.

After All is Secured & Done

After security systems have been installed and accounted for on all platforms after your employees have been educated and made aware, what’s next? Trick question. You might not always know what’s next. That’s the last looming cybersecurity threat to be aware of.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare and be proactive in catching and fixing malicious attacks against your systems. Or, if you work with us – one of Colorado’s fastest-growing MSP’s – we act proactively on your behalf.

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