Keeping your digital information and systems safe is critical for all successful businesses. No matter what type of products or services you offer, you almost certainly use computers for a variety of different things on a daily basis. When bad actors are able to gain access to your systems (or even just launch attacks on them) the results can be devastating for your organization. Learning about the most common types of cyberattacks that are targeting businesses will help you to better prepare for them and keep your systems safe.
Viruses & Malware
Infecting your organization’s computers with viruses or malware is something that bad actors on the Internet are always working to do. In fact, virtually all types of cyberattacks use a virus or malware in some way during the attack. Sometimes viruses are used just to cause disruption to your services. Other times they are used to steal information or perform some other type of unwanted activity.
One of the things that many people have trouble understanding when it comes to some types of viruses is the reason why they are made in the first place. Some people who make viruses do it more for fun, or just as a challenge, than to actually benefit themselves. There are many examples of computer systems experiencing major problems due to a virus that was made just as a joke or to get attention for the person who made it. The bottom line with any type of virus or malware-based attack is that the reason it is made often does not matter, the important thing is to take proactive steps to protect your systems before you are infected.
Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS)
There are two things to watch out for when it comes to DDoS attacks. A DDoS attack is when a large number of computer systems all send your website or network simple traffic at the same time. When this is done by thousands, or even millions, of systems at a time, it can overwhelm your systems and take them offline. This is often done only with the intent to bring a company website or other system down. Sometimes, however, it is done to try to ‘distract’ system administrators while other types of hacking attempts are made.
The other thing to be aware of regarding this type of cyberattack is having your systems infected and becoming a ‘bot’ in the network of computers that are used to attack other systems. Millions of computers around the world, both business systems and personal, are unknowingly infected with a simple virus that allows someone to use it as part of a DDoS attack.
Being infected with this type of virus is a challenge because it does not cause any type of problem for the computer or network that is infected. Instead, it does nothing until it receives a signal to begin flooding a target computer with traffic. Even when this is the case, it will often only send a moderate amount of traffic on its own, which may go unnoticed but can still cause problems for other people’s systems.
Sending Infected Flash Drives
One of the most successful forms of cyber-attacks actually uses somewhat older technology. The attackers will send a flash drive (also called a thumb drive) in the mail to various companies. These drives are very inexpensive, so they can send thousands of them with just a very small investment. They make the drives and the package they arrive in look like they are from a legitimate vendor that a business may use so that the person who receives it is more likely to plug it into a networked computer.
Once the drive is plugged in, it will transfer infected files onto the computer, which will then go on to infect other areas of the business network. The end goal could be to infect systems with ransomware, steal sensitive data, or even provide a way for the bad actors to gain access to your network in the future.
Many businesses today have updated their company computers to make it so flash drives cannot be used for storage, which gives them a false sense of security. The more advanced drives used in this type of attack are configured to appear to the computer as if it were a keyboard so that it can interact with the computer without causing any suspicion until it is too late.
Ransomware is a form of malware, but it is unique and is really a category all on its own. Attackers use a variety of strategies to infect your systems with their ransomware files. This is often done through email links, infected downloads, and more. Once they have the files on your company network, their program will begin infecting other files and system without causing any visible impact. Once the ransomware virus has spread sufficiently, it will activate by encrypting all of the files that were infected, making them inaccessible.
The program will then display a message to the infected systems letting the users know that they have been locked out and must pay a ransom in order to regain access. The only way to recover from this type of attack is to either restore your systems from an uninfected backup or to pay the ransom, which is usually done with bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.
Hacking is when someone identifies and exploits some type of vulnerability in your system. For example, if there is a weakness in the software that your website is using, it may allow a hacker to gain unauthorized access to the administrative portion of the page. From there, they can do a number of different things including stealing data, making changes to your site, and even add a virus that will be downloaded to the computers of those who visit your site. In general, hacking into a computer system requires the most direct effort from the hacker, but when they are able to do it successfully, they will have a lot of control over your systems.
Keep Your System Safe
Today’s digitalized world is more dangerous than ever thanks to the prevalence of various types of cyberattacks. If you are running a business that uses any type of computer systems or websites at all, it is essential that you take the proper steps to protect your systems. For many businesses, this just means installing a good antivirus suite on your computers. For others, it will mean using advanced firewalls and other protective systems. No matter what type of business you run, protecting yourself from cyberattacks is always a priority.