Introduction: Understanding The Problem
It’s not easy to guard against the growing multitude of cyber threats that are present in the world. Not only are new threats emerging all the time, but old threats are also constantly changing and adapting. This makes them more difficult to detect and neutralize than ever before. Worse yet, there is a very real prospect that AI-enhanced hacking tools will create more data breaches than ever before.
With such a dynamic threat landscape, it pays to be proactive. That means seeking out problems and vulnerabilities before they cause a problem rather than waiting for a problem to occur. In order to do that, you have to determine where the security holes in your system might be. Let’s discuss ways that you can do that, along with some of the ways in which you can close those dangerous gaps.
Method 1: Vulnerability Testing Services
We mention this method first because it is the easiest way to go. It requires no knowledge or effort on your part, although it is obviously not free. Vulnerability management services, as they are usually called, allow for regular testing on a prearranged basis. For instance, you can set it to scan once per day, once per week, etc.
Of course, this section could not be complete without some mention of penetration testers. These are also very competent people (for the most part) who can help you to identify key flaws in your security. Indeed, that is their only job. Penetration testers are basically “white hat” hackers, meaning that they use their knowledge of hacking to aid people in providing better security. If a white hat is unable to crack through your system, it’s probably in good shape.
Of course, you do have to be a little bit careful when hiring penetration testers because….well, you are hiring a professional hacker, after all. This is someone who has the skills to rob you blind, so you need to make sure they are not the type of people who will do so. The best thing is to look for official certifications and accreditations. Letters of recommendation from other companies that have used their services are also a plus.
Method 2: Doing It Manually
If you choose to evaluate your system without any outside help, you are indeed doing things the hard way. However, companies that have a very good IT team might find it more cost-efficient to do things manually. Likewise, private individuals probably don’t have the money to hire penetration testers and the like. So, you have to consider all the most common attack vectors.
An attack vector is basically just an avenue of attack, and there are many of them. However, they can be roughly classified into the following categories:
- 1: Attacks against the network server
- 2: Social-engineering attacks against the end users
- 3: Man-in-the-middle attacks
- 4: Script-executed malware
- 5: Encryption-based attacks
1: To guard against server attacks, you might want to consider encrypting your DNS. A lot of people don’t do this, but it is one of the few reliable ways to protect against direct server compromise. You can also create your own encrypted server and use it as a “filter” between you and your ISP.
2: To guard against social engineering attacks, you need to be educated and vigilant. When something does not look right, it probably isn’t right. A lot of hacking attacks begin with the hacker tricking the user into clicking on a link. The link then goes to a fake landing page where the user is prompted to enter login credentials. A keylogger embedded in the landing page can then capture that information. Hackers have used this method to penetrate everything from social media accounts to bank accounts, so don’t underestimate the threat.
3: Man-in-the-middle attacks are very sneaky affairs that allow a hacker to intercept all your traffic. Remember how we advised you to consider using an encrypted “middle-man” server for maximum security? Well, unfortunately, a lot of hackers also know about that trick. They can use it to capture all traffic going over the network in a very subtle way. Since they don’t have to do very much with your particular machine, their activities will be harder to notice. However, these types of attacks will normally cause a big drain on system resources and can often be detected that way.
4: Script-executed malware is mainly a danger when you are using a browser. It is one of the ways in which an attacker can infect you directly from a browser, and it only requires that you navigate to the wrong place. Of course, the script that initiates the download of the malware (which is usually how it works) will usually require you to give permission before any programs or apps can be installed. Any website that asks you to install anything should be treated with suspicion. There are various good browser add-ons (like NoScript) that can neutralize this issue.
5: When we speak of encryption-based malware, we are generally referring to ransomware. This stuff locks your entire system so that a hacker can demand a ransom in exchange for the password. Because strong encryption can require months or even years to break (even under ideal circumstances), it is nearly impossible to decrypt the data. However, a good backup management system has proven to be effective against these attacks. When the hackers demand a ransom, you tell them where to stick their demands, and then you just delete everything and restore your system from the most recent backup image.
Whether you choose to do it manually or hire the services of a paid professional, those security holes have got to go. There are simply too many bad things that can result from a failure to patch them, so you should act today. If you are not sure of how you can do so, you can always get in touch with PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.