As more industries transition to virtual spaces, the threat of potential cyberattacks grows exponentially. In recent years, the number of malware, phishing, and ransomware has increased dramatically. Last year the FBI received 20% more ransomware complaints than they had in 2019, with the total cost of damages amounting to roughly $29.1 million, up by more than 200% from the previous year. Based on a report by the Retarus, companies encounter over 100,000 malicious websites on a daily basis.
This increase in cybersecurity attacks and ransomware is only expected to continue, which means protecting your organization against a potential virtual breach should be a top priority for your business. Securing your sensitive information against outside intrusion with a combination of good software, effective security protocols, and the right technology is imperative, and the first step in protecting your organization should be understanding ransomware and cyberattacks and the forms in which they can appear.
What is a Cyberattack?
A cyberattack can be defined as an attempted intrusion on computer information systems, networks, and system infrastructure. These assaults often involve the use of one or more computers and can arise in a number of different forms. Identifying what these attacks look like and the forms they come in can go a long way in protecting your organization from potential security breaches. Some of the most common kinds of cyberattacks include:
- Malware: malicious software which can be utilized to block access to key components, install harmful software, obtain sensitive information, or disrupt parts of a computer or system.
- Phishing: the practice of attempting to appear as a reputable source (typically through email) to obtain sensitive information or data such as credit card or login information.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: otherwise known as eavesdropping attacks, can occur when an attacker inserts themselves into a transaction and steals data.
- Denial-of-Service Attacks: when an attacker floods a server, system, or network with traffic to exhaust bandwidth and make the system unable to fully function.
- Zero-Day Exploits: this form of attack can occur when a vulnerability is found and exploited in software that hasn’t yet been patched or solved.
Those who implement malicious intrusion campaigns target everyone from individuals to companies. For instance, in August of 2020, the Clark County School District in Nevada was hit with a ransomware attack, wherein sensitive student information was accessed and stolen. Meanwhile, in May of 2021, Ireland’s public health services were breached by a expansive ransomware attack, dramatically impacting operations for health organizations across the country. Ireland’s national health systems weren’t partially restored until June and are still in the process of recovery.
Utilize the Right Technology
When equipping your team with technology tools, you should utilize software that is secure and has security controls that ensure the protection of sensitive digital information from malicious software and malware attacks. For example, some features and specializations you may want to prioritize in your software include:
- Encryption for archived files/data
- Mobile device management
- Intrusion detection and prevention systems
- Anti-theft devices
- Penetration testing
- Vulnerability scans
Seeking out third-party security support in the form of managed security services from a reputable organization is an additional and recommended step in securing your data. These experts will fully assess your current protective protocols and tools, and find innovative ways to secure your organization’s sensitive information.
Enact Security Protocols and Educate Staff on Cyberattacks
Educating your staff and establishing clear security protocols and guidelines on how to spot a potential threat goes a long way in protecting your virtual data. Typically, malicious actors who target large organizations will focus their efforts on individual employees, Giving employees the tools and knowledge to protect against cyberattacks can go a long way in protecting your overall organization. It can also be useful to have your employees sign a detailed security policy or code of digital ethics, showcasing that they fully understand and are in compliance with your organization’s security practices.
You should also ensure that your staff understand how to safely operate and are familiar with all the software that is necessary for their position. No matter what kind of software your staff use on a regular basis, having at least a rudimentary understanding of how malicious intrusions might occur through said software can better secure your organization from future attacks.
Furthermore, it is crucial to teach your staff how to handle sensitive information that might be an incentive for potential assaults. Proper handling of sensitive information can vary depending on the details of your organization but having a set practice in place can ensure security standards.
Establish Proper Password Management
Proper password management can go a long way in guarding your organization against a cyberattack, as it can be the easiest way for a malicious actor to gain access. There are many password protection practices that are worth implementing:
- Ensure the password in question is at least between 8 to 12 characters long
- Ask your staff to change their password at least once every 90 days
- Prioritize password complexity, meaning it uses uppercase, lowercase, numbers, or symbols.
- Limit the number of times a user can get a password wrong when attempting to log in.
Of course, you can expand on your password management by establishing the use of multi-factor authentication software. This technology reinforces password protection by requesting that the user take an additional step to confirm their identity whether that’s through a text message or even a fingerprint.
If you're looking for the right IT technology, managed security services or cybersecurity software for your organization our team at CNECT is here to help. Our nationwide team of experts can assist your organization in sourcing the IT tools necessary to protect your sensitive data against ransomware attacks. If you’re curious about how a membership with CNECT can protect your organization and its supply chain, one of our GPO representatives are happy to help.