Technological change can be exciting.
Already this year the conversation around Artificial Intelligence, 5G, the Internet of Things and other emerging technologies has centred on the potential benefits they could bring to how we do business. However, as we embrace these innovations, it's crucial to be aware of the potential risks, especially related to the most common cyberattacks. New technologies mean new vulnerabilities for criminals to exploit. How can you implement these technologies in such a way that your business can thrive and grow, but also maintain the security of your, and your customers, data? Top 5 most common cyberattacks in the UK
According to the Government's
Cybersecurity Breaches Survey 2023, the United Kingdom faces a growing threat landscape in the digital realm, with five common cyberattacks taking centre stage: 1. Phishing Phishing is a technique used by cybercriminals to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as login credentials, financial data, or personal information. The attacker often poses as a trusted colleague, client, or employee within the organisation to gain the recipient's trust and manipulate them into taking actions that compromise security. This can include clicking on malicious links, downloading infected attachments, or disclosing sensitive information. Phishing attacks can be particularly compromising as data acquired from one business can be used to attack other businesses. The series of ‘social engineering’ phishing attacks launched against Mailchimp in 2022 and 2023 are an example of this. Attackers tricked employees into revealing their login details which were then used to gain access to customer accounts. Attackers were able to steal mailing lists and use those to launch further phishing attacks using legitimate looking emails. 2. Malware Malicious software, or "malware," can take various forms, including viruses, Trojans, worms, ransomware, and spyware, among others. In these attacks, cybercriminals typically distribute the malware through deceptive means, such as infected email attachments, malicious websites, or compromised downloads. Once a system is infected, the malware can execute a range of actions, from stealing sensitive data to taking control of the victim's computer or network. Malware attacks often occur stealthily, and the malware may disguise itself as legitimate software or exploit vulnerabilities in the target system to gain unauthorised access. 3. Hacking A hacking attack involves unauthorised access to computer systems, networks, or devices with the intent of exploiting vulnerabilities or compromising security. Hackers can employ various techniques and methods to gain access to systems, including exploiting weak passwords, software vulnerabilities, or other tactics. Once inside a system, hackers may steal sensitive data, disrupt services, or manipulate the system for their own purposes. Hacking attacks can range from relatively simple actions by individuals to sophisticated, coordinated efforts by organised cybercriminal groups. 4. Denial of Service (DDoS) A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal functioning of a website, online service, or network by overwhelming it with a flood of traffic from multiple sources. This influx of traffic can cause the targeted system to become overwhelmed and unable to respond to legitimate requests from users. DDoS attacks can be orchestrated for various reasons, including extortion, revenge, political motives, or simply to disrupt the target's operations. The goal is to make the targeted service or website unavailable to its intended users. 5. Ransomware Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim's files or entire computer system, rendering it inaccessible until a ransom is paid to the attackers. Ransomware attacks are typically delivered through phishing emails, malicious attachments, or compromised websites. Once the ransomware infects a system, it quickly encrypts files, and the victim is left with a ransom demand and instructions on how to pay the attackers to obtain the decryption key that can unlock their files or system. Some ransomware strains are also capable of spreading across networks, potentially infecting other connected systems. Ransom demands can vary widely, from a few hundred pounds to millions. Paying the ransom is discouraged as there is no guarantee that the attackers will provide the decryption key or that they won't launch future attacks. An attack against a printing firm with high profile clients such as the BBC and Metropolitan Police and January’s ransomware attack against the Royal Mailwhich prevented the sending of overseas post are two recent examples of ransomware having widespread effects.
Understanding and defending against these prevalent cyber threats is critical to safeguarding your digital assets and maintaining resilience.
How to prevent cyberattacks on your business
To safeguard your business from these types of cyberattack and to mitigate the impact of emerging threats you can take proactive steps, such as:
1. Employee Training and Awareness Conduct regular cybersecurity awareness training for employees. Teach them to recognise and report phishing attempts and suspicious activities. 2. Strong Access Controls and Password Policies Implement strong password policies and encourage the use of unique, complex passwords. Enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) for accessing critical systems and data. 3. Regular Software Updates and Patch Management Keep all software, including operating systems and applications, up to date with security patches and apply updates promptly to address known vulnerabilities. 4. Security Solutions and Monitoring Deploy robust antivirus and anti-malware solutions, intrusion detection and prevention systems Land consider employing DDoS protection services and advanced firewall solutions. 5. Data Backup and Incident Response Planning Maintain regular data backups that are stored securely and can be restored quickly. Develop and regularly test an incident response plan to address potential cyber incidents, including ransomware attacks.
By embracing these measures, you can significantly improve your defences and reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks.
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