Kristopher Peterson, GSEC
No matter how careful you are, no matter how much you invest in cybersecurity, it’s always possible that your business, at some point or another, will suffer a data breach. And when data breaches occur, gigabytes—sometimes even terabytes!—of information are leaked to the Internet and instantly compromised. Needless to say, these unfortunate realities can be devastating to any business.
How exactly does something like this happen? Perhaps you imagine it the way you see it in the movies: A team of headphone-donning hackers in a darkened room, typing furiously behind an endless row of gleaming monitors. Hour after hour passes as the team of criminals chip away, layer by layer, at your system’s firewall—until finally, the hack is complete.
It may come as a surprise, but this isn’t how it typically goes.
Most businesses that suffer breaches are victims of what the industry calls “passive” cyber attacks. Rather than choosing a system to breach like the hypothetical squad of keyboard smashers described above, passive hackers patiently wait until they find the path of least resistance. They gain much of the information they need by listening and observing.
Put more simply, passive hackers wait for an incoming, vulnerable connection—and strike at random.
How do they do it?
Some would say successful hacks are a result of the hacker knowing where to look. But I think the more accurate answer is that successful hackers know how to use methods and technology that are very good at looking.
Here are a few examples:
- Port scanners: These are readily available and, as a result, frequently utilized for hacking. This technology scans and tests ports across the Internet, effortlessly finding interesting and potential targets. With a few simple clicks, the scanner is easily set and frequently checked, putting countless businesses largely at risk.
- Listening devices are also frequently used across the Internet. These employ automated tools that access information through manufacturer-provided default username and password combinations. This method is referred to as the “brute force” method, because more often than not, Internet-facing services and devices are accessible through default credentials.
- Phishing, an attempt to obtain sensitive information by disguising a seemingly trustworthy link, is an incredibly quick way to bypass every implemented, preventative technology. This method blasts millions of messages to unsuspecting recipients and the success rate is shockingly high. Just like network scanning and war dialing, phishing casts out a large net, and succeeds with just a single success.
What can businesses to do prepare?
First and foremost, the key to detecting and preventing cyber attacks is awareness. Educating your employees on the various types of attacks will help in gaining an understanding of the attacks and preventative measures. Truly prepared businesses will ensure that everyone—from the CEO down to the entry-level employees—is well-versed in the company’s cybersecurity policies.
Ensuring your staff is aware of the danger is a good first step to avoiding any attacks, such as phishing, that rely on a user error. But it’s important to take preventative steps to shore up your company’s data as well. Employing appropriate technology to provide insight into a company’s vulnerabilities, knowledge of suspicious behavior, and alerts based upon the correlation of events that occur every second across your network is also crucial to gaining visibility into these attacks.
How BlumShapiro Consulting Can Help
BlumShapiro Consulting can offer a fresh perspective of the challenges and risks that your business may face by evaluating people, processes, and technology through a number of consulting methodologies.
Our talented staff is uniquely equipped to assist with the initial steps of identifying and assessing potential weaknesses through risk and vulnerability assessments, as well as designing and delivering awareness training programs. Assessments conclude with a customized and actionable report suitable for both technical and non-technical audiences that identifies immediate opportunities for improvement.
Let us help you achieve visibility into your current security posture and help you gain the comfort of knowing that you’re prepared to meet any challenge. Learn more >>