Top Cybersecurity Problems and Solutions Companies Face
By: Kaylie Gyarmathy on January 4, 2019
Cyberattacks have become a common feature of today’s interconnected world. As more organizations transition their data operations online, the sheer volume of attacks has increased as well. From 2016 to 2017, the total number of reported incidents nearly doubled, and that doesn’t account for the number of unreported attacks. Even worse, many of these attacks targeted small businesses that don’t have the tools or strategies in place to defend themselves.
Here are some of the top cybersecurity problems companies face along with a few solutions they should consider implementing to address them.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have become one of the most prominent forms of cybercrime over the last few years. While there’s no doubting they’ve increased in frequency (2018 will set a new record for the number incidents), DDoS attacks also make for splashy headlines when they manage to take down major sites, even if they only manage to do so for a few minutes. The goal of a DDoS attack is to overload a server with access requests until it ultimately crashes. These attacks are usually facilitated by “botnets,” a fleet of computers infected by malicious software and directed by a hacker to send access requests to a single target. Newer, more intense forms of DDoS attacks involve a process known as “memcaching,” which uses unprotected, open-source object-caching systems to amplify access requests and inundate sites with more than a terabyte of traffic.
A classic form of cyberattack, malicious software can be introduced into a system through a variety of methods. Email attachments, software downloads, and operating system vulnerabilities are the most common sources of malware. Once installed, malware disguises itself by attaching to legitimate code and spreading to other systems. The goal of malware is generally to grant unauthorized access to a computer or system. Ransomware, which denies user access to critical data via encryption until a ransom is paid to unlock it, has been responsible for several high profile cyberattacks in recent years. But new forms of malware, including Trojans, viruses, and worms, are continuously emerging to threaten organizations and individuals alike.
A digital version of an age-old scam, phishing attacks consist of email messages that use various forms of psychological manipulation and deception to convince users to click on a link that sets them on a path to sharing their personal information. Modern phishing messages are incredibly sophisticated, often posing as emails from legitimate, trusted companies. And while most internet users know to be especially wary of such requests, a 2016 Verizon report found that people were six times more likely to click on a phishing email than a regular marketing email.
Even the best cybersecurity measures can prove ineffective when employees make the decision to misuse their access privileges. While people leaking secure data to public sources may be the most newsworthy example of such abuses, it’s far more common for employees to simply take vital data and information without having any specific plan for what to do with it. Recent research found that 85 percent of employees took documents or information they’d personally created and 30 percent took data they hadn’t created. This information included strategy documents, customer data, and even proprietary source code. While employees sometimes took data in response to being fired, 90 percent of them reported taking it because there was no policy or technology in place to stop them.
In order to effectively counter cyberattacks, IT personnel need to know what an attack looks like, when it’s likely to occur, and where it’s coming from. Predictive analytics software driven by machine learning can gather huge amounts of data on known cyberattacks and apply the results to existing security protocols. This is especially useful for active DDoS mitigation because it allows cybersecurity systems to identify threats and take proactive measures to redirect traffic before the system is overwhelmed. Rapid response times are critical for avoiding the worst effects of cyberattacks. The longer a breach goes undetected, for instance, the more data will be compromised, which can be costly to companies of all sizes. Predictive analytics can give remote hands teams the advance notice they need to actively combat hacking attempts.
Back Up Critical Data
In the case of DDoS and ransomware attacks, it’s essential for companies to have a data back-up plan in place. Having access to mission critical data can mean the difference between getting systems and services back online quickly with minimal downtime and suffering a catastrophic server outage. With a thorough back-up strategy in place that frequently stores vital data and assets in a separate, and preferably off-site system, companies can avoid the “all or nothing” risk of a cyberattack causing prolonged downtime. Data centers can provide extensive back-up solutions reinforced by multiple layers of cybersecurity and physical security.
Many organizations outsource portions of their IT infrastructure or data operations to third-party companies. While this can reduce costs and logistical burdens, it also introduces the potential risk of data exposure if the third party doesn’t have the same level of cybersecurity measures in place to guard against threats. To avoid this problem, companies should utilize service level agreements (SLAs) to stipulate the security obligations of all parties involved in the relationship. While an SLA can’t prevent a cyberattack by itself, it does provide legal assurance that third-party providers must adhere to certain security standards or suffer serious financial consequences for non-compliance.
With hacking becoming an accepted risk across multiple industries, many companies have responded by purchasing insurance plans to protect them against potential financial loses. The cyber insurance market is expected to grow to $20 billion by 2025. Once merely an option attached to more general business plans, standalone cyber insurance coverage has become so popular that many new insurers are entering the market to capitalize on it. For industries like healthcare, which has difficulty implementing robust security measures due to compliance laws, insurance is fast becoming a necessity to protect companies financially from cyberattacks on their own systems or those of their suppliers and partners.
Identifying vulnerabilities in software code can be a tedious and time-consuming process. Many organizations simply don’t have the resources to subject their programs to the rigorous scrutiny necessary to identify every single bug or loophole that could be exploited by hackers. In recent years, however, companies have decided to outsource this task through “bug bounty” programs. These programs encourage well-intentioned hackers to scour web-based software for vulnerabilities and errors, delivering a cash payout when confirmed bugs are identified. Both private companies and government agencies have implemented “bug bounty” policies to help shore up their software security.
Training and Awareness
Many data breaches result from phishing scams that introduce malware into network systems. Educating employees regarding the latest tactics used by scammers can help reduce the likelihood that they will click links that expose them to malicious software. Implementing basic data security policies that explain how to properly handle company data is also key to reducing the threat of internal misuse. Organizations should also be more strict about who has access to sensitive data in the first place. These strategies can greatly reduce the impact of human error on cybersecurity measures.
While cyberattacks remain a serious threat to organizations today, there are several solutions that can bolster efforts to safeguard data and maximize service uptime. By keeping up-to-date with the latest risks, companies can implement more effective cybersecurity strategies to protect both themselves and their customers from harmful data breaches and other threats.
About Kaylie Gyarmathy
As the Marketing Manager for vXchnge, Kaylie handles the coordination and logistics of tradeshows and events. She is responsible for social media marketing and brand promotion through various outlets. She enjoys developing new ways and events to capture the attention of the vXchnge audience.
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