How users unknowingly hand hackers the keys to your network

How users unknowingly hand hackers the keys to your network

Do you know where your network is most vulnerable? Cyber criminals do. And they’re fine-tuning their tactics using your employees.

Malicious cyber actors are becoming more sophisticated in their approach, making it increasingly difficult to tell the real deal from a raw deal. They’ll stop at nothing to compromise your company’s sensitive data – including playing on the fears of a global pandemic.

Ready to shore up your digital defenses? Start by understanding how hackers are able to access your network on the employee side and work backwards to create a custom cyber threat prevention plan.

Targeting telecommuters

Employees are working from home at an unprecedented scale – and hackers are hot on the heels of this newly minted remote workforce.

Many employees are unaware of the dangers that can come from connecting to an unsecured public WiFi network and unknowingly put their employers at risk. Others strictly use their organization’s virtual private networks (VPNs) to access documents and files remotely.

But that alone may not be enough to prevent a breach.

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a cyber agency that’s part of the Department of Homeland Security, without the right network security, your VPN can be a beacon for hackers looking for a direct line to the network.

CISA suggests companies, “Update VPNs, network infrastructure devices, and devices being used to remote into work environments with the latest software patches and security configurations.”

The report goes on to underline how critical it is to make your employees aware of phishing emails, especially those that might use concerns over COVID to lure users into unintentionally opening spam attachments or clicking infected links.

This is important even at the highest levels of your organization. CISA noted that “powerful personalities”, such as those in your C-suite, are being more frequently targeted in whaling scams.

To hack and to hold (for ransom)

Ransomware is exactly what it sounds like. This form of malware is especially troubling because it keeps your data frozen in limbo until demands are met, usually via lump sum of the ever-elusive bitcoin.

With a ransomware attack suddenly your device is not your own. Whether you’re outright blocked from accessing files on your computer or your data becomes encrypted, it only takes a single click to an unassuming attachment or normal looking-link to infect your desktop or mobile device.

How prevalent is this type of attack? Very.

The number of ransomware variations top the thousands. And one group of cyber criminals, WannaCry, is solely responsible for a staggering 300,000 attacks.

One particularly sneaky attack comes in the form of fake support. Employees have been known to receive get a time-sensitive pop-up message from big name software companies encouraging the user to take immediate action to prevent their data from being erased. When they call, they’re conned into paying for a phony antivirus “solution” or left vulnerable to having their data encrypted by a stealthy “technician”.

The best defense against these unscrupulous schemes is training and education. Make sure employees are aware of what’s out there and have an open door policy for reporting anything even mildly suspicious.

Malware infiltration en masse

Even if most of your employees know that downloading documents from an unknown source is a bad idea, it doesn’t mean they’re totally in the clear.

Cyber criminals are now able to infect a computer with malware even if a user simply previews an infected document. They can also send fake emails with documents containing malicious links that are able to completely bypass even the most stringent built-in security systems.

Other malware infections can keep reinfecting your device indefinitely. As Mimecast explains, “Persistent malware seems to act like an incurable disease for your technology. Every time your anti-virus product cleans it from your system, it finds a way to re-instantiate. Particularly, when rootkit-based malware is involved, it can achieve persistence by hiding in areas of your hard drive that might be inaccessible to the operating system to evade detection and prevent scanners from locating it.”

Every organization has cyber vulnerabilities. The key is to identify them before a hacker does. By continually educating your employees, you can work as a team to protect your network from even the most clever cyber criminal.

Content created and provided by ONEAFFINITI, LLC.