Dave is an experienced security engineer and business professional, leading Guardian Digital in providing businesses of all sizes with innovative cyber security services. Under Dave’s leadership, Guardian Digital helps companies stay ahead of emerging threats, make informed cyber security business decisions, reduce management complexity and free up IT resources.

In the early days of the internet, cyber security was in its infancy and there was a sudden necessity for quickly developing protection from new cyber threats. One method for achieving this was using open source to easily develop applications, which can provide the privacy and protection that organizations need while maintaining security and helping managers stay within budget. Unfortunately, cyber attacks have only increased, with employees being one common vulnerable entry point for attackers. A business’s IT department may implement advanced security solutions to protect equipment from threats such as malware, but it will take much more to protect against other types of threats, like phishing attacks.

The mechanics of an attack

A cyber attack deliberately exploits a computer system or network. For example, a hacker may use malicious software to exploit a vulnerability in a system. This malicious code runs a command that causes a disruption in the natural sequence of events and compromises or steals the targeted data. The victim could face anything from identity theft or fraud, to ransomware, to stolen data, to malware attacks, and more.

When it comes to searching for a victim, attackers look for two factors; ease of access and the potential reward. Small businesses often meet the criteria due to minimal or poor cyber security measures. Depending on the type of business, the data on-board may be tempting and financially valuable. In this case, attackers may sell the information to other malicious lists, or hold the data hostage for a ransom.

Small businesses in particular need to be wary of cyber attacks, as they are viable targets for attackers. Small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) tend to have fewer available funds and are less likely to have security measures and appropriate incident response plans in place than larger organizations. Additionally, SMBs often lack the means to defend or easily recover from an attack, so they end up paying the demanded ransom to retrieve their data. The cost of a data breach is hefty and many small businesses may not recover from one, so it pays to be prepared.

It is crucial that your staff be able to identify the most common threats, including:

  • Phishing attacks: These attacks often appear legitimate. Avoiding phishing attacks requires confirming the legitimacy of an email, which is a common point of failure.
  • Spear phishing: This is a more targeted form of phishing, in which an individual, department, or company is targeted. Spear phishing tends to be harder to detect than other types of threats, as the content is more specialized and relevant to the receiver, increasing the likelihood that the receiver will click on the malicious content.
  • Malicious spam: Many spam email messages fall into the phishing category, but even harmless spam messages can affect productivity due to the time it takes to sort through them. Some mail service solutions will sort through email messages to detect spam and malware. However, a message from a potential customer or supplier might be flagged and some spam emails may bypass filters.

The cost of a successful attack

One thing that became clear this year was that no organization, regardless of its size, is immune to a data breach. A data breach can happen to any organization, enterprise, or government at any time. The looming threat of cyber crimes has become more prevalent than ever, so cyber security is a necessity for everyone. Statics show that:

  • The cyber security market is predicted to reach up to $300 billion by 2026.
  • Due to the pandemic, nearly 60% of internet users have reported an elevated risk of a data breach.
  • Cyber security statistics show that the total damage caused by cyber criminals is expected to reach $6 trillion in 2022.
  • Every 39 seconds, one cyber attack takes place worldwide.
  • Globally, one ransomware attack occurs every 14 seconds.
  • Cyber security stats reveal that small firms invest less than $500 on cyber security on average.
  • Cyber crimes have led to $2 trillion in damages so far in 2022.
  • More than 75% of targeted cyber crimes begin with a malicious email.

Remaining aware of statistics and facts will help users avoid cyber threats and pivot away from poor online behavior, helping to keep their confidential data safe and secured.

Identifying threats and strengthening your company’s cyber security

One of the most important tools to invest in is effective antivirus software, most of which can detect malware, spyware, ransomware, and malicious email attachments. This makes it easy to quickly identify threats and mitigate them before they cause damage.

Another way to filter potential cyber threats to your email system is by implementing an innovative, fully-managed supplementary security solution that’s capable of safeguarding your users, your data, and your brand against sophisticated and dangerous attacks.

In addition to detecting potential cyber threats, strengthening your company’s cyber security will also help you keep your network protected. Here are a few tools that you can use to strengthen your organization’s cyber security:

Multi-factor authentication

Having more than one form of authentication in place significantly reduces the chance of a cyber attack. There are dozens of authentication options available, including passwords, fingerprints, authenticator apps, facial recognition, voice recognition, and more.

Vulnerability management

Keeping your software and operating systems up-to-date can prevent malicious actors from leveraging any vulnerabilities within your network. The best part is that most of these updates can be automated.

Data loss prevention

Implementing backup and disaster recovery solutions will help you safeguard your company’s data, even in the event of a cyber attack.

Leveraging open source for cyber security

Open-source software is one of the most innovative developments because it’s publicly available and editable. Applying the open-source methodology of collaboration in cyber security can greatly affect everyone’s security. Security and credential theft was the primary security concern when the internet was first introduced. Today, consumers require vendors to be transparent with data collection, vulnerability disclosure, and security weaknesses, which open source provides.

Using open source to develop applications also provides the privacy and protection that organizations need, and open source is much more secure and cost-effective than proprietary alternatives.

The bottom line

It cannot be stressed enough: Users must think before they click and keep from interacting with suspicious emails, as there is usually a reason for an email’s appearance. Additionally, it’s essential for employees to confirm that the source is legitimate before transferring any funds. Many organizations think that they won’t become a cyber attack victim, and that they are immune to the potential threats of phishing, malware, ransomware, and other advanced attack types. With the growing number of companies that have been affected by cyber attacks, it is better to be safe than sorry, and it pays to be prepared.

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