IT Security - More Than Just Viruses
Written by Shackleton Technologies, 10 April 2019
Faced by enormous GDPR fines and reputational damage for data breaches, IT security should be a strategic priority for SMEs. But many continue to underestimate the genuine dangers they face; 74% of UK SMEs reported information security breaches.
Much of the problem stems from the belief that a good anti-virus product will protect their computers and users. The reality is that modern cyber-attacks use multiple techniques and approaches, only one of which is malware.
Taking your company offline
Your website is usually the first point of contact with your clients. It may also be the most important sales channel for online retailers. If your website goes down, sales quickly dry up.
Cybercriminals are well aware of this fact and will actively work to take websites offline. This is usually achieved using a technique known as Distributed Denial of Service – DDoS. During a DDoS attack, hackers will use automated tools to generate hundreds of thousands of fake visits to your website. Eventually, the system overloads and the website crashes.
DDoS attacks can last for a few minutes or drag on for days. In the meantime, real customers cannot access your website, taking their business elsewhere.
Advanced Persistent Threats – the enemy within
The scariest and most effective attacks can take months to set-up and execute. Known as Advanced Persistent Threats (APT), hackers typically gain access to your network using infected malware, or misconfigured settings.
Phishing emails are another popular tool for gaining an initial foothold inside your network. These messages seem to come from a trusted authority – one of your clients, the bank, your boss – and encourage recipients to share their user name and password. Others will convince users to download a bill or other official document – but the file also contains malware that opens a backdoor into the network.
Once inside, they will spend days analysing your network, stealing passwords, and installing more malware to compromise as many of your systems as possible. They will then begin taking valuable data that can be sold, to steal money from your bank account, or to defraud other businesses and consumers.
APT attacks are very sneaky, and incredibly hard to detect.
The best protection begins outside the network
IT security is complex, both as a topic of discussion and in terms of protecting your network and data. The fight against hacking techniques like DDoS, APT and phishing emails begins outside your network. Ideally, you should be identifying and blocking suspicious activity before it enters your network, and long before it reaches your PC’s antivirus.
However, this approach requires tools and skills that are well outside the experience of most SMEs, which is why you need an IT partner who can deal with the rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape. While they take care of improving your data security provisions, you can concentrate on delivering a better quality of service to your customers.
To learn more about the cybersecurity challenges you face (and don't even know about) and how Shackleton Technologies can help, please give us a call.
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