The risk of being targeted by cybercriminals is greater than ever, and businesses are the most frequent target. The average private individual simply doesn’t have as much money, and therefore, large organizations make much more appealing targets. That being said, these kinds of criminals will normally look for common and well-known vulnerabilities to exploit. Without such a vulnerability, their job becomes much harder and they will likely hunt elsewhere. In order to aid that process, you should work on closing these 8 key vulnerabilities.
1. Social Engineering
This is an old and time-proven method that continues to succeed today. This label can be applied to a wide variety of tactics, but all of them focus on tricking legitimate users into providing access under false pretenses. Whether it’s a phishing email that asks for your account passwords or a phone call that asks for your social security number, social engineering remains the most common initial point of attack.
Education can do a lot to mitigate this problem. It is much more difficult to fool someone who is cautious and even a little suspicious. When people learn about how these scams work, it becomes much easier to guard against them. Without that education, however, they will be completely defenseless.
2. BYOD Policies
It can be very tempting to let people “bring their own devices” to access the company network. After all, that’s fewer devices that have to be bought and maintained. However, this convenience does come with some major risks. When everyone is providing their own device, it becomes virtually impossible to secure all of them. Every device on your network is a potential entry point. If that entry point hasn’t been properly protected, it is like an unlocked door, providing easy entry to a thief.
The best solution for this problem is to disallow BYOD policies entirely. However, if they are essential for your methods, you should at least use a VPN or something similar. Basically, since you cannot protect every device, you force them to connect to your network through a secured portal. Thus, even if you cannot secure every device, you can provide a secure connection point.
3. Data Loss
This one is very common and is not always caused by hackers or other criminals. Sometimes, a simple computer crash can be enough to cause massive data loss. For companies that need to maintain exact records for legal compliance, this is a particularly large problem. Of course, data loss is also sometimes the result of theft. The hacked data of any company can be of great value when sold or used for extortion.
The best way to guard against data loss is data backup. There isn’t really a better way at present, so make sure to back up that crucial data regularly. You should make sure that those backups are stored on machines that cannot access the internet. Believe it or not, some cybercriminals are smart enough to target your backups, so don’t provide an opportunity for them.
4. IoT Devices
These so-called “smart devices” offer a lot of versatility and convenience, and that is why they are beginning to become more common. In a business environment, where the need for monitoring and compliance is so great, they can be a very appealing option. However, as we said before, every connected device represents a potential entry point. IoT devices are no exception, so they need to be secured properly.
We continue to be amazed that IoT device manufacturers pay so little attention to security matters. Until they start building strong security into these devices, the problem will continue to get worse. In the meantime, the wisest course of action is to avoid excessive use of IoT devices and to keep them isolated on their own network.
5. Weak Passwords
Most of us tend to think that our passwords are secure, but that isn’t necessarily the case. A weak password is a little better than having no password, so don’t forget that fact. There are programs that can “crack” passwords by using many failed guesses. By learning a little bit from each guess, the whole password can gradually be unveiled.
Here’s the catch with those “cracking” programs: They only work on weak passwords! Once you get your passwords up to 18-20 characters (with numbers, letters, and plenty of random characters), it becomes much harder to crack. In fact, a proper password can take years to crack, and no one is going to bother with that.
6. Lazy Coding Practices
Many software and hardware vulnerabilities are found at the code level. This is very hard for the average person to deal with, largely because most people never look at the underlying code. However, this is where many of the worst vulnerabilities reside. To put it simply, good security must be encoded into your hardware and software from the start.
7. Lack Of Network Separation
A good business network should make use of a hierarchical privilege system. That’s a fancy way of saying that you need different levels of access. If average users are able to access high-risk data, then a criminal’s job becomes much easier. All they have to do is trick one low-level user to gain access to the entire system. On the other hand, if your system is properly separated into layers of access, an intruder will have much more limited access and more opportunities to be caught.
8. Insider Threats
Instead of going through all these elaborate measures to trick an “insider,” some criminals prefer the infiltration route. All you have to do is get a job at the relevant company and you can become the insider! Of course, not everyone is willing to go to all that trouble. However, if they cannot find a digital method of entry, physical access might be the next step. Proper employee vetting and access control are the best tools against that kind of thing.
It can seem a bit overwhelming when you first start learning about cybersecurity. There are many threats out there, and these are just eight of the most common ones. However, it is essential to understand these threats so that they can be avoided (or at least mitigated). If you would like to know more, feel free to call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.