If you’ve been operating under the assumption that a hacker wouldn’t bother with a company like yours, you may be exposing yourself to unnecessary risk. Small and mid-sized organizations are not only targets for cybersecurity attacks but are often even seen as low-hanging fruit that can provide access to business partners that are larger targets.
Small and mid-sized organizations often operate with minimal technological support, often lacking an IT security strategy because they don’t have enough the expertise to create one, nor do they have the in-house resources to oversee one. As a result, many organizations are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
In addition, the very nature of those attacks continues to change, so it can be challenging to keep up with the measures you should have in place to proactively protect your data, systems, and reputation. Here are some of the latest new developments affecting cybersecurity for smaller organizations:
Phishing Gets Smarter: You’ve likely trained your employees to watch for emails that seem a bit off, looking for urgent language or a tone that doesn’t “sound” like the person you’re receiving the email from. That approach may no longer be enough. Phishing is continually becoming more sophisticated and highly targeted toward specific employees. Through a variety of techniques, hackers gather extensive data and history to create extremely realistic emails. They even make sure that the email appears to be from a colleague, or a senior manager or officer in the organization so the recipient feels compelled to respond.
Digital Skimming: You are probably familiar with hackers that skim your credit card info when you pump gas or use the ATM, but you may not realize that your card information can be skimmed while you’re filling out an online checkout form. It happens before “submit” is even clicked, so the purchaser has no idea their information is being gathered and the encryption step hasn’t engaged.
Extortion of Your Brand: Extortion gets an IT security spin when sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp are used to hijack your brand’s reputation. In this scenario, a hacker creates ghost accounts on social media and review sites, with damaging complaints and other types of harmful statements, unless you provide the demanded payment. These types of attacks can be particularly challenging for small and mid-size organizations to recover from, because they typically don’t have a cybersecurity team, nor a social media team ready to mitigate the reputation damage.
Credential Stuffing: It’s no longer necessary for a hacker to steal your login and password information or test endless combinations until they crack your account. Instead, they simply access volumes of stolen data from the dark web, then run massive tests of the data across websites until they find a match. Many people use only a handful of login and password information across multiple personal and work-related websites. So, if an employee uses the same login credentials for their Facebook account, as they do for their organization’s online banking or payroll processing accounts, credential stuffing can be disastrous for both the employee and their employer.
Biometric Hacks: While biometrics have added a new level of IT security, using voice recognition for a second form of user verification is also a new target for hackers. Using data from smartphones, voice recordings can be used to gain access to data and systems. Beyond obtaining voice recordings and imitating them, technology in this area can also allow hackers to gain access to passwords simply by recognizing the sounds a particular typing pattern makes.
Malware Without Files: When you think of malware, you probably think about opening a malicious document or link that exposes your computer and broader systems to malicious code. But malware has further evolved, and is now able to infiltrate your computers without the need for a file. A fileless malware attack utilizes a vulnerability in a legitimate application, often taking advantage of application software that has missing security patches. Because this type of malware is not associated with a file, it can often be harder to detect.
How Can Small to Mid-Sized Organizations Address IT Security Threats?
As mentioned above, with all the increasingly complex ways your business is being threatened, the security of your network can seem overwhelming. There are many steps you can take, such as implementing two-step verification (authentication), ensuring permissions are role-based, and training employees to recognize cybersecurity threats and take appropriate steps when a possible problem is detected.
Many organizations augment their own security programs by investing in a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP). While the ultimate responsibility for an organization’s cybersecurity can never be outsourced, a third-party service provider can help you put the right security programs, processes and products in place to proactively defend against both current and emerging threats.
At Advanced Network Systems, we understand how important it is that you never experience an interruption to your business processes, either from a cyberattack, or from a network problem or system failure. Contact us to discuss options for reducing costly downtime as well as securing your data and network systems from attack.