Do You Realize How Quickly Your Systems Can Be Hacked Into?

When it comes to businesses, big or small, hackers can easily hack into their systems. Most of the times they are able to do so without much effort, which makes it important for businesses to up their security game without fail.

Hacking is referred to as the biggest threats to the US’ economic security, with small businesses and self-employed individuals suffering the brunt of it. The treat requires taking effective measures to prevent breaches at all costs. Of course, this requires time and money, but it is worth everything considering the implications caused by a lack of security.

Looking at the Bigger Picture

What previously were isolated incidents have become a common occurrence. Hackers gain access to confidential information and company secrets by attacking businesses. In doing so, they create huge losses for the economy as a whole.

According to the FBI, most espionage cases result in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars, which essentially also translates to job losses.

Former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden, went on record to state how hacking results in the theft of American wealth. In his own words: “It’s stealing American Jobs. It’s stealing American competitive advantage”.

No business is safe, this includes heavy hitters like Google and LinkedIn. Google was breached back in 2011, while LinkedIn fell victim to hackers in June of 2012.

The healthcare industry is also a lucrative target for hackers in 2018. The latest victim of phishing is an Oregon based health system. According to officials, 38,000 patients have been notified about the data breach that might have occurred. Reports suggest that breached information includes the date of birth, billing info, health insurance as well as medical information.

Agreed, said companies have taken appropriate steps to prevent such breaches from taking place again, but there is still room for improvement.

Ways Companies get hacked

Now the real question here is how do hackers access corporate systems. By taking a closer look, as already mentioned earlier, they are able to do so without much effort. Some of the most common ways hackers attack companies is by:

  • Social Engineering

Social engineering or spear phishing is one of the most common of strategies used by hackers to attack a system. How it works is that a link or an attachment is sent via email to a specific target, with the sole intention of exploiting them. Basically, the recipient is tricked into opening said link or attachment to run malicious software for the hacker to benefit from. Once in a system, a hacker can get into other machines on a network, thus making it possible for them to bring just about any business to their knees.

  • Infection by Drive-by-Web Downloads

When interested in a larger group of people, hackers will instead rely on targeting a website instead. After finding a vulnerability, hackers will leave a piece of malicious code to infect any and all that visit the website. The tactic is popular and is oftenused for hacking government and hospital websites.

  • Malware via USB Key

Malware can also make its way into your systems via USB key. For instance, USB keys can be distributed as gifts to employees after a meeting or conference, which once connected to a system installs malware automatically.

Other methods by which hackers get into systems include and are not limited to:

  • Exploiting open Wi-Fi networks
  • Using password reset services to their advantage
  • Remotely scanning servers for exploitable vulnerabilities
  • Stealing credentials from third-party websites

Cybersecurity Tips to Consider

When it comes to improving your cybersecurity, you will need to educate yourself and your staff first. Seeing how hackers exploit soft targets, it is best to start with the basics.

  • Meet Industry Regulations for Cybersecurity

If you own or are part of a federal or healthcare institution, it is advisable for you to meet industry regulations for cybersecurity. For example, healthcare institutions should severely limit access to private and confidential information, unless when required. Also, access should only be granted to individuals that require them in the first place, like medical practitioners.

  • Use Strong Passwords

Around 80% of breaches are caused by weak, guessable or stolen passwords. For this reason, it is imperative that strong and unique passwords are used. Avoid using the same passwords across different accounts either. If remembering passwords is a problem, use a reliable password manager instead.

  • Pay Close attention to Web URLs

When visiting websites, make sure there is an “https” in the URL. This is more of a necessity when visiting a site to enter sensitive information. Sites with an “HTTP” in the URL indicates that it is unencrypted, meaning, a hacker could quite possibly be waiting to attack unsuspecting victims on that page.

  • Update System Software Regularly

This is a no-brainer and should be taken more seriously. Software programs are updated for a reason, and that is to fix vulnerabilities. Whenever an update presents itself, make the most of it, without thinking twice.

  • Encrypt Everything

Should a breach take place, the least you want to do is to make it difficult for hackers to extract the information they need. This is possible by encrypting your databases and hard drives with algorithms like AES256, which serves as a defensive tool against data breaches, and the best part – it is easy to do.

When it comes to improving your cybersecurity, knowledge is the keyto success. At the same time, it is equally important for you to revisit your security plan, study the structure of your business and its data handling capabilities, and ensure your business responds effectively in case of a breach.

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