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What are the most important tools to combat an unexpected cyberattack?

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What are the most important tools to combat an unexpected cyberattack?

Protecting your critical business data from cyber threats is more important now than ever. With the rise of ransomware and other cyberattacks, it could be time to address your cybersecurity balance. It is common for companies to invest heavily in cybersecurity tools designed to detect, identify, and protect against cyber threats, whereas tools designed to provide rapid recovery are often given a lower budget priority. The problem with this imbalance of investments is that we can only detect and identify threats that are known to be malicious, whereas it is the unknown and unexpected attack which succeeds in compromising our systems and data. In the case of an unexpected attack, it is our recovery tools that provide the ultimate line of defense. The recent huge cyber-attack that paralyzed town halls and offices in South Westphalia is just one example of cybercrime that unexpectedly breached incumbent protection tools and succeeded in causing widespread disruption to public and business services. In this article we will consider 6 common cyber threat categories and highlight why they are very likely to bypass early detection and identification tools.

Introduction: Why your cybersecurity budget needs to focus on the unexpected.

Without a doubt, cybersecurity tools that are developed to identify, protect, and detect cyber threats are crucial. However, when we consider the variety of threats that are prevalent today, it becomes evident that a cyber-attack that can bypass early detection is likely to occur for most organizations. In such scenarios, it is imperative to have a system recovery solution in place that can restore essential business systems and application data to a known clean state at a specific point in time. This is necessary to prevent financial losses, ensure uninterrupted customer service, and avoid having to pay exorbitant ransomware demands. Now, let us examine six common threat categories and assess the probability of them evading early detection.
  • Social Engineering. Social engineering continues to be a highly dangerous hacking technique employed by cybercriminals. It is particularly threatening because it exploits human errors rather than technical vulnerabilities; it is easier to deceive individuals than breach a security system. In 2023, social engineering tactics have played a significant role in obtaining employee data and credentials. Well-known cases like the MGM Resorts International attack, which disrupted their hotel and casino operations for several days and resulted in losses exceeding $100 million, exemplify the impact of these tactics. More than 75% of targeted cyberattacks commence with phishing emails, making it one of the leading causes of data breaches. Once cybercriminals obtain employee credentials, their activities can go unnoticed until they are in a strong position to demand ransom. In such circumstances, having a reliable recovery solution becomes the sole defense mechanism.

  • Third-partly data exposure. Cyber attackers have developed a clever strategy of bypassing security systems by targeting the less secure networks of third-party entities that have privileged access to the primary target. An alarming and significant instance of such a third-party breach occurred in early 2021 when hackers exposed personal information from more than 214 million accounts on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin. These hackers successfully gained access to this sensitive data by compromising a third-party contractor known as Socialarks. It is noteworthy that Socialarks had been engaged by all three companies and held privileged access to their networks. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities that can arise when relying on third-party entities and underscores the importance of robust security measures throughout the supply chain.

  • System Configuration Errors. Configuration errors pose a significant threat to cybersecurity, as they create vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. Such errors occur when software, hardware, or network components are improperly configured, often due to oversight, misconfigurations, or a lack of adherence to security best practices. A study conducted by the Ponemon Institute in 2019 revealed that 50% of IT professionals admitted to having a limited understanding of the effectiveness of their implemented cybersecurity tools. This indicates a worrisome trend where IT experts may not be consistently conducting internal testing and maintenance of their cybersecurity measures. Configuration errors not only leave organizations exposed to potential attacks but also underscore the need for a robust system recovery solution as the only reliable means for successful resolution. Thus, ensuring proper configuration management and ongoing evaluation of cybersecurity tools can mitigate the risks associated with configuration errors and bolster an organization’s overall security posture.

  • Poor Cyber Hygiene. Poor cyber hygiene is characterized by the absence of proper practices and behaviors concerning online security. It entails neglecting essential steps and precautions that individuals or organizations should implement to safeguard their digital assets and data. There are various indicators of poor cyber hygiene, but some common ones include:

    • Weak Passwords: Using weak and easily guessable passwords or reusing the same password across multiple accounts without regularly updating them, can greatly compromise your security and put personally identifiable information (PII) in the hands of attackers.

    • Outdated Software: By failing to regularly update operating systems, applications, and security software, individuals leave themselves vulnerable to potential attacks and breaches due to unpatched vulnerabilities.

    • Lack of Security Software: Failure to install antivirus or anti-malware software or neglecting to keep it regularly updated.

    • Unsecured Networks: Engaging in the use of unsecured Wi-Fi networks without encryption or utilizing default router credentials.

    • Clicking on Suspicious Links: Being lured into phishing attacks by interacting with or engaging with links or attachments from sources that are either unknown or considered suspicious.

    • Ignoring Software Updates: Disregarding alerts to update software or postponing updates, leaving systems exposed to known vulnerabilities.

    • No Data Backups: Neglecting to regularly back up important data to a secure location, making it vulnerable to loss in the event of a ransomware attack or hardware failure.

    • Sharing Sensitive Information: Disclosing personal or sensitive information online without giving proper consideration to privacy settings or the security measures provided by the platform.

    • Using Unauthorized Software: Installing and utilizing software that is not approved or authorized, thereby exposing potential security risks.

    • No Employee Training: Failing to educate staff regarding cybersecurity best practices, making them more susceptible to social engineering attacks.

    • Poor Access Controls: Granting excessive user privileges, failure to implement the least privilege principle, and not promptly revoking access for former employees.

    • Neglecting Physical Security: Disregarding physical security measures for devices, such as neglecting to supervise computers or mobile devices in public areas.

    The list above serves to highlight the vast range of human factor vulnerabilities that can be classified as poor cyber hygiene, all of which have the potential of bypassing investments in tools designed to detect and identify known vulnerabilities.

  • Cloud Vulnerabilities. According to a recent article by Forbes that discusses research from Oracle, it is mentioned that 98% of businesses using public cloud services have chosen to adopt a multi-cloud approach, where they utilize multiple cloud infrastructure providers. Opting for a multi-cloud strategy offers various advantages, such as eliminating the risk of reliance on a single provider and avoiding vendor lock-in. However, it is important to note that this approach also increases the potential risk of security vulnerabilities and flaws. Forbes suggests that companies using cloud services for their infrastructure should pay close attention to five specific threats to safeguard their systems and data:

    • Unauthorized Access could go unnoticed.

    • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) may strike.

    • APIs and Applications are increasingly unsecure.

    • Attacks can result in data loss.

    • Insider Threats need to be taken seriously.

    It is crucial for companies that are utilizing a multi-cloud hosting strategy to prioritize the protection of their cloud service data and applications with system replication, multi-cloud backup and/or system recovery tools.

  • Remote working and mobile device vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities of mobile devices have been made worse by the rise in remote work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in more companies adopting bring-your-own-device policies. This widespread usage of mobile devices has consequently heightened the risk of cyber threats for organizations. Various factors contribute to this increased risk:

    • Increased Attack Surface: The increased use of mobile devices expands the opportunities for cybercriminals to launch attacks. This is because employees now access corporate networks and data from different locations and devices, making it easier for hackers to find entry points for potential attacks.

    • Mobile Malware: The prevalence of mobile malware has also risen, targeting vulnerabilities in mobile operating systems and applications. This includes the use of malicious apps, phishing attacks, and other threats that are specific to mobile devices, all of which can compromise sensitive corporate information.

    • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): The trend of employees using their personal devices for work-related tasks, also known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), introduces additional challenges. Personal devices may not have the same level of security measures as company-issued devices, potentially exposing corporate networks to security risks.

    • Data Leakage: Mobile devices are susceptible to data leakage through unauthorized access, especially if employees store sensitive information on their devices. The loss or theft of a mobile device can lead to the exposure of confidential data.

    • Unsecure Wi-Fi Networks: Risk stems from the fact that mobile devices often connect to various Wi-Fi networks, some of which may be unsecure. Connecting to such networks exposes devices to the risk of being targeted in man-in-the-middle attacks, where attackers intercept and manipulate communications between the device and the network.

    • Insufficient Security Measures: Some users may not adequately secure their mobile devices, which includes weak passwords, lack of device encryption, and the absence of security updates. This makes their devices more vulnerable to exploitation.

    • Phishing Attacks: Phishing attacks are also a concern for mobile devices, as users can be easily tricked into divulging sensitive information or downloading malicious content through deceptive messages or emails.

    • Third-Party App Risks: Employees often download apps from unverified sources, and some of these apps may have security vulnerabilities or contain malware. The use of unapproved apps can introduce risks to the corporate network.

    • Limited Visibility and Control: One of the challenges companies face is limited visibility and control over mobile devices, particularly when employees use their personal devices for work purposes. This limited visibility makes it harder to detect and respond to security incidents.

    To address these risks, companies should implement strong mobile security policies, including the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions. They should also enforce security best practices, provide employee training on mobile security awareness, and regularly update and patch mobile devices. Additionally, companies should develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that accounts for the evolving threat landscape associated with mobile devices.

What is the distinction between System Recovery and Cyber Recovery?

One crucial aspect of cybersecurity that is often overlooked is cyber recovery. Cyber recovery refers to the process of restoring IT systems and infrastructure to their pre-attack state after a cyber-attack or data breach. In other words, it is the process of recovering from a cybersecurity incident. Cyber recovery solutions can help organizations quickly recover from an attack and minimize the impact of a breach. These solutions can include backup and recovery, disaster recovery, and tools such as data forensics that enable organizations to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. With cyber threats on the rise, having a strong cyber recovery plan is essential to ensure business continuity and prevent serious financial and reputational damage. It is important to note that cyber recovery is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that needs to be updated and tested regularly to ensure its effectiveness. Having a well-designed cyber recovery plan in place can give organizations the confidence that they can recover from a cyber-attack and minimize the impact on their business.

Conclusion: Investment in recovery tools should carry equal weight within any cybersecurity strategy.

Our summary highlights the ability of various vulnerabilities to evade early detection and identification tools. Cybercrime has become a frequent occurrence for organizations, making it a matter of when, rather than if, an attack will happen. To defend against such attacks, it is crucial to have strong system recovery and cyber recovery tools in place. If you require assistance in evaluating your investment in system recovery, feel free to contact the Cristie Data team. They are always available to provide expert advice on implementing best practices to safeguard your crucial business systems and data.

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