Cyber Attacks – What You Need To Know

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Although vaccines have been rolled out to combat the pandemic, it appears that things will not be the same as they were before COVID-19. Many CEOs believe that the remote and distributed workforce we have nowadays will remain.

Because of this, organizations have to brainstorm how they can start organizing themselves during these unstable times while keeping valuable assets secure.

However, many companies around the world are struggling to transform their security protocols to accommodate the new normal. The ongoing reality of remote work has resulted in a rush to quickly integrate a range of new platforms and tools to streamline collaboration and productivity.

With everyone racing to connect their workforce, digital security implications have often been overlooked. This negligence, together with the fact that corporate firewalls will mostly be unnecessary, has placed many businesses at risk of cyber attacks.

What Is a Cyber Attack?

A cyber attack happens when a malicious individual attempts to breach a computer system, steal data, or disable security to launch additional attacks.

These cyber criminals employ a wide variety of techniques to carry out their harmful attacks. Here are a few examples:

Type of cyber attackDescription
PhishingA social engineering scam that attempts to steal sensitive personal details through emails
RansomwareHarmful software made to prevent access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid
BaitingInfecting computer systems with malware after deceiving users into downloading free content
Common Cyber Attacks

With numerous malicious tools available online, having strong network security protocols, organization-wide cybersecurity, and cyber liability is more important than ever.

Cyber criminals are capable of stealing, destroying, or altering their targets when they hack into vulnerable systems. These cyber threats can result in the installation of malicious software capable of taking down small businesses and even large government agencies.

Major Cyber Attacks

Several years ago, a breach that affected a few million individuals would have been all over the news. Today, cybersecurity attacks on millions or even billions of individuals are quite common.

Here are a few examples of major cyber attacks that happened not too long ago.

Adobe

In October 2013, Adobe reported that cyber criminals had stolen approximately 3 million customer credit card records together with login data for an uncertain number of user accounts.

A month later, the American multinational software company raised their estimate to include encrypted passwords and IDs of about 38 million active users.

Cybersecurity experts found that the attack appeared to also include 150 million usernames and hashed password pairs. Several weeks of research later, the hack was revealed to expose not only credit and debit card information, but IDs, customer names, and passwords as well.

In 2015, an agreement was made calling for Adobe to pay a $1.1 million settlement for legal fees including an undisclosed amount to users for violating the unfair business practices and Customer Records Act.

A year later, it was reported that customers were paid a total of $1 million in the settlement.

Yahoo

In 2016, Yahoo announced that it had been a victim of a data breach, one that would be considered the largest in history. According to the company, the attackers compromised the personal data of about 500 million users. Yahoo said that the “state-sponsored” attackers got hold of passwords that had been hashed.

Later in the year, the company once again informed the public of a different attack from 2013 where cyber criminals compromised the names, email addresses, passwords, dates of birth, and security questions of 1 billion user accounts.

These data breaches are believed to have knocked an estimate of around $350 million off the company value as it was sold to Verizon.

Canva

In May 2019, the Australian graphic design platform Canva reported a cyber attack that exposed the personal information of about 137 million users. According to Canva, the malicious attacker only viewed the data involving partial payment and credit card details but did not steal them.

The suspected culprits got in touch with ZDNet to talk about their exploit, mentioning that Canva was able to catch onto their attack and immediately shut down their data breach server. The cyber attackers also said they obtained OAuth login tokens from users who signed in using Google.

How To Protect Against Cyber Attacks

Seeing that data breaches can be very costly, companies should start taking steps to protect themselves from these malicious attacks.

Here are a few ways to keep your organization safe from cyber criminals.

  • Limit employee access to vital data – One of the biggest information security threats is human error, which is why you should limit access to valuable company data among employees. Getting employment practices liability (EPLI) can be useful to give your organization added protection against potential lawsuits.
  • Keep software updated – New apps introduced to the network can open the way to a cyber attack, so keeping operating systems and product software updated with the latest patches is essential.
  • Secure all access points – To secure your wireless networking, you should change administrative passwords on new devices, avoid using WEP (wired-equivalent privacy), and set routers to use WiFi Protected Access 2.

What To Do After a Cyber Attack

If you have been a victim of a cyber attack and are wondering what you can do to bounce back, consider the steps below to minimize additional damage.

  1. Contain the breach – Start by determining which servers were compromised and contain the infected systems as quickly as possible to ensure that other devices are not infected.
  2. Identify those affected by the attack – You need to know who may have been affected by the cyber attack including employees, clients, and third-party vendors.
  3. Obtain cyber insurance – Cyber insurance is now more important than ever since it provides added protection against data breaches involving personal customer information.
  4. Stay educated about data breach protocols – You should make sure all employees are aware of business policies concerning data breaches to avoid them in the future.

Conclusion

A data breach resulting from a cyber attack can have significant impacts even after the initial breach has been fixed. Not only can you lose consumer confidence, but restoring the trust of the public can be difficult to achieve afterward.

Keeping your software updated, ensuring data breach protocols are followed, and obtaining cyber insurance are just a few ways to stay safe.

By having the right protection in place, you can avoid becoming a victim of the many potential cyber-attacks in 2021 and beyond.

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