A malicious incursion can happen anytime, and it will almost certainly take its victim by surprise. The cybersphere is so crowded with threats that every company with a virtual presence is a potential victim. What this means is that enterprises across different industries need to take measures to protect themselves. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of steps that enterprises can follow to substantially reduce the chances of ever falling into the crosshairs of an attacker:
- Implement strong endpoint threat detection and response measures: Without a defensive system specifically geared toward protecting against malicious incursions, all businesses place themselves at risk of attack. What’s unfortunate about the business climate these days is that many industry leaders fail to grasp the importance of endpoint security and control, despite the fact that malware is in wider circulation and threatens greater losses than ever before. Making sure a defensive plan is in place is undoubtedly the most important step a company can take in staving off an attack. Without such a system, a criminal intrusion becomes all but inevitable.
- Don’t wait for authorities to nab cybercriminals: It is wishful thinking to assume that the legion of criminal hackers will somehow all be made to answer for their infractions. As far as targeting criminals goes, cybercrime is one sector where authorities are notably unsuccessful in bringing culprits to justice. The reason for this has not do not only with the stealth of the hackers, but also with the remote nature of the crime being carried out. For example, an attack on a company computer in New York could easily be coming from Moscow, and by the time it’s traced, the hackers could have already moved to a different server. There are occasions, however, when authorities are successful in holding some cybercriminals accountable. Recently, for instance, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was bringing a 14-count indictment against a Russian man suspected of being an administrator behind Gameover ZeuS and CryptoLocker, strains of botnet and ransomware, respectively, that have caused significant monetary damages across the world. But according to Dark Reading, the arrest of the alleged malware administrator will do little to curb the damages of the two malicious strains, since the criminal element behind them is not only powerful but globally expansive. The power of criminality behind virtual attacks puts added pressure on business administrators to always be prepared for the worst.
- Monitor internal company computing: Unfortunately, threats come from within company walls as well as from the outside, which means that businesses should be proactive in continuously monitoring their end points for suspicious activity. Back in 2011, Bank of America learned this lesson the hard way after one of its employees was sentenced to federal prison for placing malware on the bank’s ATMs and thereby extracting nearly $300,000 for himself, according to ATM Marketplace. However, this situation could likely have been avoided had the bank employed more stringent endpoint protection software at the time. With stronger software in place, the bank would have been alerted to the presence of malware when the thieving employee first installed it.
- Maintain transparency about company security with all employees: Not all discussions about enterprise security should be carried out in a room with the window drawn. When it comes to workplace computing, there’s a certain protocol that all employees should follow – and therefore they need to be instructed in how to abide by it. These security practices include not opening any email attachment that looks remotely suspicious, not leaving a computer sitting idle for extended periods of time, and being cautious when it comes to operations like file sharing or anything else that could potentially bring a malicious presence onto a computing device. The best way to encourage this secure computing on the part of employees is for decision-makers to be as open as possible about the security issues facing the company. Administrators should take the time to explain to all employees – not just the IT people – how they can practice certain business computing techniques that encourage safety and limit the potential for a criminal intrusion.
For companies that have already been attacked, it’s likely they were not following one of the above steps. By maintaining a robust response system and practicing good defensive measures, any company can protect itself.
By: Charles Leaver