Data breaches are one of the worst catastrophes that a company can experience. Sadly, there are times when it is very difficult to prevent them, as technology will always have certain vulnerabilities. However, even if you can’t always stop the intruder, you can at least recognize the warning signs and prepare accordingly. We should note: all of these warning signs indicate that your security is probably compromised, meaning that a data breach is likely incoming.
Unexplained Reduction In Network Speed
If your network normally runs pretty fast but has been slow lately, it could indicate a malware problem. Malware is a type of harmful software that is installed by hackers and similar people and it can do a wide variety of things. In many cases, malware will hijack the resources of your device or network. This will result in a drain on your internet speed for all connected devices.
Of course, there are a lot of things that can cause a temporary network slowdown. This might include bad weather, maintenance issues, worn-out equipment, etc. You definitely want to rule those kinds of things out before you jump to any scary conclusions.
Increase In Suspicious Emails
Email phishing is probably the most common type of cyber attack. Hackers gravitate toward these tactics because they are much easier than most of the alternatives. There are many variations on this basic scam but all of them revolve around the idea of tricking someone into giving up their essential credentials.
In most cases, these phishing emails will impersonate trusted communications (like putting your company’s header on the email, for instance) and will contain a link. They will also probably direct the user to reset their password or log in from the link. As you might guess, the link is boobytrapped and is designed to capture your login information.
Thankfully, most of these emails are fairly easy to spot. Things like poor grammar, incorrect headings, or lack of corroboration with trusted sources will often give them away. If your employees are reporting a larger number of these things, it indicates that someone is targeting you or your organization.
Constant Redirects To Suspicious Pages
Everyone gets a pop-up ad here and there, but that isn’t what we mean. If your device keeps trying to open a certain page without your instructions, that is a gigantic red flag. If you start seeing multiple pop-ups that go to the same place, that is also a bad sign. This indicates that your traffic is being redirected to certain sites, and those sites probably aren’t the legitimate kind.
Lots Of Unidentified Outbound Traffic
If you aren’t monitoring your network to some extent, you really should be. Network monitoring is the best way to detect unauthorized connections or data transfers. If you don’t know much about this kind of thing, we can give you one piece of advice right away: The outbound traffic will tell you more than the incoming traffic.
When you connect to any web page, you will also connect to certain pages that are associated with that content. This might be a DDOS protection server, a content delivery service, or any number of other things. Unless you feel like investigating every single one of those IPs, you will want to look at outbound traffic.
Once a cyber-criminal gets access to your data, they have another problem: How to transfer that data off-site without being detected. If someone is monitoring the network, it can be pretty hard to do that. So, the bottom line is this: Outbound traffic should not show anything unfamiliar. If it does, someone might be trying to exfiltrate their stolen goods.
Unknown Admin User Activity
Admin privileges are often hijacked by cyber-intruders as part of their rotten schemes. These make it easier for them to execute malware, steal data, and alter the system in general. In some cases, they actually have to do this kind of thing. Unfortunately for them, admin activity is recorded in the system logs.
Those of you who know a little bit more might be thinking: Why don’t they just delete the logs?” They can certainly do that, but the deletion will be obvious when another admin takes a look. Even if you cannot verify what has been done, you can usually verify the presence of an unknown admin account, and that is a huge red flag.
A Lot Of Failed Login Attempts
With any semi-closed network, failed logins will happen from time to time. That kind of thing is usually just a typo or a faulty memory, of course. However, if you see a lot of failed login attempts when reviewing system logs, it’s an indicator that someone is trying to crack a password.
The password-cracking attacks that are most often used by hackers are called “dictionary attacks.” They work on a simple concept: Try everything in the dictionary until something matches. With every failed guess, the program can unlock just a little more of the password until the whole thing is eventually revealed. This could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 years depending on the strength of the password and its associated encryption.
Missing Or Misplaced Files
This one is pretty obvious but should be mentioned anyway. If your files are out of place or missing, it will sometimes be an indicator of tampering. When someone is after your confidential data, file folders will be a primary target. If they are really trying to do some damage, they might even start deleting important things. While folders can sometimes be moved on accident, a pattern of misplaced files is a sign that you need to start thinking about a data breach response plan.
If you are seeing any of these signs, you need to do a full security audit and verify any problems. If you are lucky, they might just be false alarms, but it pays to be a little bit paranoid about this kind of thing. If you would like to know more about the ways in which you can detect a data breach, or if you just need small business computer support, we recommend you call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.