Individuals, businesses and even nations have unknowingly been fighting a technological war that continues to increase in scope. Overall, the incidents appear to be few and in between but the reality is far from that. Worst of all the “not me” syndrome or denial continues to provide an abundance of easy targets which simply aggravates the situations for everyone. Perhaps a few examples will drive the point home. Have you ever heard of:
- Unauthorized entity hijacked website and send every visitor to their site instead.
- Unauthorized entity logged into network and have accessed to Company Information.
- Unauthorized entity encrypted critical files and held them for ransom.
- Unauthorized entity accessed client files and send e-mail requesting they verify their account information.
- Unauthorized entity e-mailed false invoice to clients in order to capture their attention and financial information.
- Unauthorized entity misrepresented themselves as Microsoft Corporation in order to gain access to network.
- Unauthorized entity misrepresented themselves as Government Entity and requested immediate payment in overdue account.
All of these and more are examples of attempts to steal information and make money while doing so. I personally get one or two of those reaching out to me every couple of days. My servers on the other hand are under attack on an on-going basis. The truth is that these attacks are not only happening but increasing in terms of scope and frequency on an exponential basis. The reason for the same, is easy to do and hard to catch those with malicious intent. The answer many will say is to stop relying on technology but the reality of our society is that going back to paper and physical files is no longer an option. Let’s just say that the genie is out of the bottle and now we must deal with it. So, while there is no silver bullet that will protect us from every attack there are a few recommendations that may enhance your security at home and in a business environment.
- Cloud computing. I know that many people are against cloud computing but I think is it all about perspective. Do you prefer to manage and secure every device and computer in your office or to have all information in one location, with a reliable back-up, and concentrate your security efforts towards that one location? We used to have our own Servers in multiple locations. This was not only expensive but the same created a number of experiences I prefer not to remember. Eventually we decided to move to the cloud and not only did we reduce our liability but our costs as well.
- Ransomware Solutions. Ransomware is the act of having someone encrypt your files until you pay or give them something in return. Some people may think that the best solution to this will be keeping an up to day back-up in a secured place. This is a clever idea in terms of operations as you should be able to get your back-up online within a brief period of time. However, there are other solutions to consider such as BitDefender that is a free anti-ransomware tool that keeps files safe from unauthorized encryption.
- Secured Socket Layers (SSL). SSL is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a browser. In other words, a SSL creates a secure bridge to transfer information between two points. One of the advantages of having SSL is that your customer information is protected as they browse your web page.
- Training. There is no better tool than education to know what may trigger an attack, how to recognize something wrong and what actions to take. Regardless of whether you are a small business or a large one never underestimate the power of having an knowledgeable workforce.
The lesson at the end of the day is that cyber-attacks are real but you are not defenseless. Be proactive. Learn about this threat, identify your vulnerabilities and make a plan to prevent been a victim.