The uptick in cyber attacks has been well publicized, but most Orlando area business owners understand these security events as attacks on company software and digital infrastructure. While systemic attacks continue to pose a serious threat to businesses, potentially neutralizing their networks and servers for an indefinite time, cybercriminals are targeting individual employees at alarming rates.
How Hackers Attack Employees
Several recent independent reports have revealed that hackers increasingly favor attacks on individual staff over your business software, and targeted incidents like these are now among the leading causes of organizational data breaches across the globe. As modern operating systems and cloud infrastructure become more sophisticated, threat actors have learned that it is easier to victimize humans than break into complicated systems designed with robust security protections at the forefront.
That’s not to say that criminals seeking to disrupt your digital environment with viruses, ransomware, and malicious URLs have fallen by the wayside. Hackers continue to deploy these methods in various new and unpredictable ways. But scammers have identified human operators as the new “weakest link,” as it were. This new strategy accounts for the recent increase in phishing attacks and compromised accounts across virtually every business sector.
Human-targeted threats are far more sophisticated now than they were in the early stages of the Web. In the past, phishing scams were easy to identify because they usually entailed an absurd financial proposition from a suspicious email address in a foreign country. Of course, only the gullible would fall for these types of scams. Today’s cybercriminals, however, invest a lot of time researching their victims on professional networking sites like LinkedIn and other online corporate profiles to identify the most vulnerable targets in your organization.
Once the threat actor locates a suitable target, your employee becomes the victim of advanced social engineering attacks in an effort to deceive the individual into relinquishing personal login credentials or making an unauthorized payment to a spoof account. Once the criminal successfully compromises a user account, they begin moving laterally across your organization with the newfound access, targeting more employees in your network instead of your systems.
Understanding who is at risk
Identifying who is most at risk of a social engineering attack in your organization is the key to defending your business against them. Phishing, spoofing, and other cyberattacks that target humans routinely lead to devastating data breaches and significant financial loss, so understanding the most targeted employment roles is crucial. Once you pinpoint the most likely targets in your business, you can start implementing effective protection measures and security policies for these users.
As you develop new security protocols to mitigate and prevent human factor threats, ensure that you reference the latest studies on this subject. Don’t simply follow your intuition because the vulnerable targets within your organization are rarely the most obvious ones. At first thought, you might assume that your executive team and company directors are most at risk for a social engineering attack because they have money-moving privileges.
In reality, anyone authorized to access company banking information can become a target. Furthermore, the most frequently victimized are those with prominent online visibility and whose roles within your organization are easily identified. Employees who display public contact information on your business websites, official social media, and blog posts are usually the most vulnerable staff members within your organization.
The primary point to remember is that the highly targeted people at your business aren’t always the first to suspect, while the victims are continually changing. Companies that struggle with cybersecurity should understand who is most at risk. However, a robust security training program across your entire organization is the surest path to preventing future social engineering attacks.
Protecting your employees from cyberthreats
Aside from implementing a thorough and ongoing cybersecurity training initiative, any employee with access to your business financial information should be required to use multi-factor authentication before logging on to sensitive accounts. While not indisputably foolproof, multi-factor authentication is the best approach to safeguarding your employees from threat actors. In the event of a password breach, a secondary layer of authentication prevents hackers from gaining unauthorized access to your protected information.
Should one of your employees become a target of a sophisticated phishing attack, deploying a secure email gateway to block malicious emails is similarly effective in preventing baiting and socially engineered cyber-attacks. Secure email gateway solutions form a barrier in front of your email environment to prevent phishing emails from reaching the employee’s inbox. Some email security products can even help you track the most targeted individuals at your business.
Knowledge, awareness, and skills through employee training represent the most reliable path to protecting your company against expensive data breaches and cyber-attacks. Your education and training initiative should be continuous and company-wide, covering every individual in your workforce while drawing from the valuable resources in your IT department.
Cybersecurity and managed IT services Central Florida
When it comes to protecting your organization, monitoring your networks continuously is vital. The human element of cybersecurity is among the most complicated territories to navigate. PCH Technologies, a leading IT service provider in Orlando, uses the latest security technologies, including machine learning, to keep your organization two steps ahead of the latest cyber threats.
To schedule a comprehensive cyber risk assessment or learn more about our email security protections, fill out our online contact form or call us at (844) 754-7500 today.
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As of 2022, PCH Technologies has opened up a new location in Fort Lauderdale, FL in order to serve the South Florida Market. This expansion into the South Florida market aligns strategically with our plans to continue to grow a national presence as a managed service provider (MSP).
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