3 Worst Downtime-Inducing Cyber Attacks And How to Guard Against Them

 Randall Kelly
  Jul 25, 2019

Cybercriminals can inflict all sorts of damage to a business.

It can be in the form of compromised data, gaining control of people’s devices, and extorting money from business owners.

With all the vicious cyber attacks that have been reported in the news, the online consumers have now become more cautious about how they store their payment details and who they transact with.

To help you protect your network and stop cyber threats before they happen, you need to know the different types of attacks and how they work.

Let me share with you some of the worst downtime-inducing cyber attacks and how upi can safeguard against them:

1.Phishing and Social Engineering

An average of 14.5 billion spam messages are sent daily, and 73% are phishing emails, based on the Annual Cyber Security Report 2019 produced by penetration testing Bulletproof.

Social engineering and phishing entail hackers posing as credible entities, organizations, or companies to deceive people into giving their sensitive information.

One of the most common forms of phishing is through emails. They try to convince the email recipients that the email they received are from trusted sources, and the matter at hand needs their immediate action.

For example, a hacker posing as someone from the user’s bank will send an email containing a link to a fake website where they are asked to log in to their bank account.

Unsuspecting users might click on that link and enter their sensitive information on the website, giving the hacker access to their account.

Another type of phishing email aims to corrupt your system with malware by sending downloadable files or attachments.

Once you download the file, it can either infect your systems or lock your files and deny you access to them, and even cause downtimes.

Scary, isn’t it?

So how do you defend against these types of threats?

Here are a few tips:

  • Train your employees on cybersecurity. Your employees should learn to identify phishing emails and to report the threat upon detection.

  • Create a password security policy. Require your employees to create strong passwords by using unique characters. If possible, set the passwords to expire within a specific period, so they need to be constantly replaced.

  • SSL Certificates. Use encryption to secure connections between your server and a browser. SSL encryption secures the transfer of sensitive information like passwords and credit card details, preventing hackers from accessing them.

Cybersecurity Services. Prevention is key. An excellent way to defend yourself against cyber attacks is by working with cybersecurity service providers.

Security companies like Bulletproof offer penetration testing features. They scan operating systems, servers, and firewall infrastructure to determine security risks. Not only that, but they also perform automated scans of mobile and web apps to assess exposure level from external parties.

When you work with third-party service providers, you are confident that you are backed by industry experts who specialize in the aspect of security.

This gives you the peace of mind, knowing that you are protected against cyber criminals.

As ancient as social engineering and phishing might seem, they are still effective means that modern-day hackers use to scam people into giving their sensitive information.

Keep your online security protected by understanding how it works and employing the right strategies.

2. Ransomware

Ransomware sounds exactly like you think it is as it involves hackers who keep (or “lock”) your sensitive information for a “ransom.”

Ransomware is usually delivered to users through phishing emails that contain legitimate looking malicious files or attachments.

Once users click on the attachment, the ransomware file then gets into the computers and servers, encrypts, and locks specific sensitive data.

If users try to open the attachment, a message prompt will appear telling them their files have been encrypted or locked and will only get the encryption key if they pay the hacker a specific amount (usually untraceable and in Bitcoin) within a set timeframe.

Highly targeted potential victims of ransomware are government agencies, medical facilities, police departments, and schools, among others because these organizations need access to their files to operate effectively.

Now that you know some of the possible devastating effects of ransomware,

Here are some quick tips to safeguard against this kind of attack:

  • Update your operating system and software. A software update will usually include patches for recently detected vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

  • Regularly update your security software. New variants of ransomware are also developing so update your security software regularly to help protect against this kind of cyber attacks.

Be cautious when opening email attachments. Ransomware is commonly sent through emails as malware. Don’t open emails, or click on links that are from unknown sources and delete the emails.

  • Use security software. Protect your data by installing and using trusted security suites that have features to detect and protect against hidden threats, on top of their antivirus and malware protection features.

  • Back up your highly sensitive data offline. Ransomware works because hackers have leverage over their victims, but if you back up your data to your external hard drive, hackers will no longer have anything to extort you with.

  • Having backups allows you to restore them after the infection is removed. Just remember to keep your back up files protected by keeping them offline to avoid hackers from accessing them as well.

  • Be wary of email attachments that ask you to enable macros to view the content. Always make sure and check if the email is legitimate and from trusted sources before doing this, otherwise, your files can get infected with malware.

  • Don’t pay the hackers. As much as possible, don’t pay the ransom. This might not seem like sound advice since not paying means not getting your files back.

However, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that cybercriminals will return your files either. They will see this as an opportunity to extort more money from you.

3. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

Man-in-the-middle attacks are when attackers intercept the communication between two parties to modify the traffic between the parties or eavesdrop without being detected.

Cybercriminals who use MitM intend to steal the user’s personal information or login credentials, corrupt data by infecting it with malware, spy on unsuspecting users, or disrupt communications.

You are most susceptible to this kind of cyber attack when you use public or unsecured networks.

For instance, traveling while still running your online business, and connecting to unsecured networks from your hotel or coffee shops increases the risk of cybercriminals intercepting the information you are transmitting.

Cybercriminals are employing more sophisticated methods to carry out MitM attacks.

Steps to help protect your connections, data, and devices with these:

  • Be wary of emails asking you to update or reset your password and login credentials. When receiving these kinds of possibly phishing emails, type in the website address in your browser manually instead of clicking on the link in the email.

  • Check the URL. Always check if the URL of the sites you visit show HTTPS and not HTTP. This tells you whether or not the website uses SSL certificates for secure connections between a browser and your server.

  • Install internet security solutions. MitB attacks are usually carried out through malware, and internet security solutions can help with the detection and prevention of these threats.

  • Don’t connect to public Wi-Fi networks directly. Avoid connecting directly to unsecured networks in public places and install a virtual private network or VPN. Using a VPN is crucial in cryptocurrency, for example, and set up security privacy tools to help ensure secure connections and transactions.

Also, choose VPN service providers with features that will suit your security needs.

  • Secure your home Wi-Fi networks. Create strong passwords for your home router and update default passwords and usernames, including all devices connected to your network.

It’s essential to understand Man-in-the-Middle attacks and how they can compromise the security of your sensitive information, and learn how to protect yourself from them.

What’s Next?

These are just three out of many cyber threats that can cause serious damage to your online security.

The key is to understand these kinds of threats and use the right strategies, tools, and services to keep yourself protected.

What other cyber attacks and protection measures do you know? Let us know in our comments section below.

3 Worst Downtime-Inducing Cyber Attacks And How to Guard Against Them

Randall Kelly

Randall lives and breathes writing. He writes just about anything and everything under the sun from digital marketing, web development, and cryptocurrencies among other things.

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