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Hacking: One of the Biggest Threats for Today’s Businesses

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Posted August 17, 2018

There was a time when small businesses could rely on the relative obscurity of their brand to avoid becoming targets for hackers. The landscape changed with the introduction of modern Cloud-based services aimed at businesses, which led to an increase in online business practices.

Cyber security. Image credit: VISHNU_KV via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

The problem with Cloud-based services is that their security strategies tend to fail over and over again. In turn, it’s not all that surprising that malicious hackers frequently target such services and succeed, especially when such vulnerabilities are caused by faulty applications and software. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a significant increase in security breaches, which should not be ignored.

Prominent examples of businesses being hacked

There are more than a few examples of large businesses being victims of advanced cyberattacks. Let’s analyze a few to see how they were executed and what were the consequences that businesses faced in the aftermath.

Equifax data breach

Equifax, an American credit reporting agency, was hacked back in 2017. The attackers gained access to sensitive data on Canadian, British, and American consumers. The breach was accomplished through a website application vulnerability.

Image via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The compromised data included Social Security numbers, home addresses, and birth dates. They also exposed an undisclosed number of driver’s licenses, as well as 209,000 credit card numbers and 182,000 credit dispute documents.

The breach ran from May to July 2017. According to the research, more than 143 million people were affected by the breach. The attackers got a hold on credit card information, names, birthdates, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, phone numbers, physical addresses, email addresses, and tax payer IDs. What makes things worse, is the fact that some of that sensitive data came photos.

eBay data breach

In February 2014 eBay’s corporate network was compromised, and hackers gained access to sensitive customer data. The compromised data included customers’ names, email addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords.

Image credit: 27707 via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

The company was forced to notify almost 150 million users that they needed to change their passwords to retain the safety of their accounts.

Fortunately, no financial data was compromised in this breach since PayPal-related data is stored separately and all financial records are encrypted.

In both cases, security breaches resulted in massive data leaks, which affected the users and the company simultaneously. Both enterprises experienced a significant drop in their stock once the news about a breach broke.

Common hacking attacks

Hacking has been around since the day people started using the internet and over the years it has adapted to every newly implemented security measure. To this day, it is still evolving but for the past decade its main types have fundamentally stayed the same:

1. Phishing

This is one of the most common ways hackers gain access to sensitive data. The whole thing is set up by replicating the look of a popular site so that unsuspecting users would enter their login credentials.

2. Social engineering

This method is usually used in conjunction with other hacking methods. The goal is to include a human element to get an opening from an enterprise or organization.

3. Passive attacks

This is the equivalent of reconnaissance in the hacking world. The hackers breach into a system but do not tamper with any of the data – they just observe until they have enough information to make an impactful and, often, devastating move.

4. DoS and DDoS

With DoS and DDoS attacks, hackers aim to overwhelm a particular website’s servers, so it would crash. Usually, this is achieved through the use of botnets – an interconnected network of devices. With the computing power of a massive botnet, hackers can take down even the biggest sites on the web.

5. Keylogging

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. By employing keylogging software, malicious hackers can track every single keystroke that the victim makes.

How can people and businesses protect themselves?

There are a number of ways that you can approach cybersecurity. However, the first step you ought to take is educating yourself and your employees. Making virtual security a part of your company’s’ culture can go a long way. While it’s true that cybersecurity strategies differ depending on a scale and type of a company, there are a few things that everyone should do.

Image credit: kalhh via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

One of the easiest ways that you can improve your overall cybersecurity is by enabling automatic OS updates on all of your devices. These updates play a crucial role when it comes to protecting your system as they routinely patch potential security vulnerabilities. You can think of such updates as your first line of defense.

Besides enabling automatic software updates, you should make use of other security solutions on the market. Consider investing in a professional antimalware/antivirus tool and a VPN service. In combination, these tools can protect your system from malicious software and ensure a secure and private connection to the Internet.

You should also consider backing up all your data on a regular basis. Use encryption to secure those backups just in case.

Though these steps seem rudimentary, they work for everyone. If you wish to set up security strategies tailored for your particular business, it’s best to hire a cybersecurity professional.

Conclusion

The online environment and modern IT business software and services offer a lot of new opportunities. They resolve problems for businesses and provide them with new growth opportunities but also present virtual security challenges. Don’t allow people with ill intent get the better of you and profit on your team’s hard work.

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