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Rising To Meet Emerging Cyber Threats

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A simple cyber-attack could easily maim your business and even put you out of business.  60% of businesses that did undergo a cyber-attack closed shop within six months. Sadly, cyber-criminals are working overtime to find loopholes in the current security landscape, making it essential for businesses to be on their toes to outsmart the bad guys.

Ideally, your data security is only as strong as your weakest security link. As long as you can work to overcome the emergent security threats, you can protect your business’ reputation and gain a competitive advantage in your industry. Is it an easy task? No, it isn’t. Keeping up with current security threats requires a keen eye and an adept IT team, but leaving things to chance is never an option. The trick is to build a robust risk assessment program and to apply the necessary security controls.

Here is why risk assessment is essential and how to battle the emergent cyber threats:

Why You Should Focus On Risk Assessment

Understanding your current risk landscape and where your business lies, security-wise is an essential part of creating a great security posture. Ideally, you need to identify the most vulnerable parts of your security system, whether the current security tools are capable enough, and how to seal any loopholes. Risk assessment helps to identify the best ways to eliminate threats.

It also helps to rank the threats, making it easy to maximize an organization’s critical resources. As for your IT team, it helps to identify weaknesses that you have talent-wise and provide sustainable solutions. For instance, you can outsource a task, hire more professionals, or  beef up employee training. It also makes it easy to identify the best person to offer the role of monitoring a specific risk. Simply put, the risk assessment will give you a microscopic view into your entire security risk landscape and support your decision-making process.

Four Emergent Threats and Their Solutions

Zero-Day Exploits

A zero-day attack is simply an attack that exploits unidentified vulnerabilities in your business’ systems. IT teams barely have enough time to patch the vulnerability, and often have to work towards fighting against attacks to regain control. While it can be possible to stop some attacks before they even happen, it is difficult to fight against something that you barely know exists.

Even worse, some software updates might expose your business to vulnerabilities, which at times results in zero-day exploits. Patching these vulnerabilities before they can turn into an attack is essential, especially considering that zero-day attacks are becoming more refined. To solve the problem, IT teams need to watch out for vulnerabilities in their company’s systems constantly.

Also, it is essential to install security updates as soon as they are sent out. Sadly, Wannacry affected a lot of businesses that ran under the Microsoft OS, despite Microsoft having  sent out a patch for the ad hoc vulnerability. Lastly, you need to use both AI-based security tools and data-based ones. While data-based tools are effective in identifying and preventing known threats, AI-based tools can be effective in keeping your business from unknown threats that cause your business’ system to behave abnormally.

The Threat That Lies In Shadow IT

How well do you know the IT assets that employees use in their daily operations? Sometimes, employees might download applications that are outside the scope of what your business provides to streamline their work. While they will mostly use these unsanctioned applications without meaning any harm to your business, there is the chance that the applications can expose your business to security risks.

For instance, if a hacker were to find a vulnerability in these applications, they can quickly gain access to your sensitive data. Worst of all, it might be tough for IT teams to identify the threats since they do not know the applications that employees are using. Your IT team needs to take inventory of all applications that employees are using to battle shadow IT.

You should outline the application that you sanction for use by employees and have policies warning against using unsanctioned apps. Since employees tend to mostly use other applications due to shortcomings in the ones you provide, it is ideal for collaborating with employees  in choosing these applications. This ensures that they will stick to the applications that you provide as a business.

Warshipping Is Becoming a Major Threat

Warshipping is a simple phishing threat in which hackers use the mail delivery system to launch their phishing attacks. They attach remote-controlled devices to packages that they send out to organizations and use these devices to access an organization’s network remotely. Once in the network, they can collect credentials and make costly changes to your data.

Worst of all, it might take some time for the inattentive IT teams to identify the looming threat. Start by asking employees to have their personal packages delivered at home, not at work, as this reduces the chances of an attack. Quarantine packages delivered into your premise, and place them in an area that has little to no access to the corporate network.

Such packages should be scanned for any threats before the recipients accept them. Lastly, be on the lookout for unsanctioned Wi-Fi devices that may connect to your network or any rogue wireless access points that employees can confuse for your business’ network.

IoT Attacks

IoT devices are gaining traction in today’s convenience-oriented business world. You might already have devices such as cameras and sensors that help make your business’ daily operations smooth. Sadly, most of these devices are made with security as an afterthought, making them easily vulnerable to attacks. If hackers manage to gain access to such devices, there is no limit to what they can have access to in terms of sensitive data.

Realizing this, IoT device manufacturers have started creating devices that are designed with security as a key consideration. The best device manufacturers are also always looking for vulnerabilities in their current devices and sending out ad hoc updates to patch them. Ideally, your business should continually update its devices once a patch is sent out.  Partnering with security-conscious companies might also pay when it comes to identifying the best IoT tools to use and the security precautions to follow.

While the threats above are plaguing businesses at the moment, more threats are bound to arise with time. The initial step to creating a safe environment for your business is to indulge in risk assessment religiously. Follow the tips above to keep your business protected from the outlined threats.

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