Today, the world is a cyber war zone. Although cyber weapons have a long history, the past few years have seen a dramatic spike. Cyber-attacks have grown in sophistication and intensity, with the WannaCry ransomware and the NotPetya malware causing global issues. In addition, President Biden recently warned that Russian-backed hacking groups could be planning a campaign of cybersecurity attacks against western organisations.
As a result, he urged critical infrastructure owners and operators to take immediate measures to review their cyber preparedness to identify information security weaknesses and harden their defences. Here at 101 Data Solutions, we offer various cyber security services for organisations, including data protection, network protection, and security advice. We can also assess your existing security measures and help you make smart changes.
As the threat from cyber-attacks grows, you need to be aware of the dangers and how to protect your organisation from them. Read on for more information on staying ahead of the cybersecurity curve!
What is a Cyber-attack?
A cyber-attack is an attempt to breach, disrupt, or access a computer network through malware, or other devices. Cyber-attacks often come in the form of ransomware, phishing scams, pharming attacks and other online exploits. These attacks aim to steal your personal information or damage your digital devices in some way. Cyber-attacks can cause irreparable damage to your devices and compromise your personal information. They are becoming increasingly common, so it’s important to know what to do if you’re the victim.
The Signs of a Cyber-attack
Cyber-attacks can happen without any prior warning. This means that businesses, individuals, and even governments can suddenly find themselves in the middle of a cyber-security crisis. Fortunately, some signs will help you spot a cyber-attack before it’s too late. If you recognise these early warning signs, you can take steps to mitigate the damage a cyber-attack could cause. Let’s look at a few of the most important early warning signs of a potential cyber-attack.
When a cyber-attack is suspected, a company usually looks for signs of intrusion. There are a variety of signs that an attacker might be targeting your network, but here are a few:
- Sensitive Data Exposure
One of the first signs that a network has been compromised is sensitive data exposure. Sensitive information includes financial information, customer names, or trade secrets. If an attacker breaches your network, they may have stolen data that they can use to launch additional attacks. My team at 101 Data Solutions can help your organisation understand how to prevent data breaches and respond to data breaches when they occur.
- Unauthorised Access
Another sign that a network has been breached is unauthorised access. This could include employees logging in with their credentials or an attacker using stolen credentials to gain control of the network. It is also possible that an attacker may have accessed the network through a vulnerability.
If an attacker has been able to access your network, they may try to move laterally to access other systems on the network. This is usually done by targeting the weakest link in the network, such as a user account with limited privileges.
- Unusual Behaviour
Finally, if you notice any unusual activity on your network, you should raise alarms. This could include an increase in traffic, unusual logins, or other activity.
Cyber-attacks will often have one or more of the following signs:
- A large number of users suddenly become unresponsive or experience unexpected system errors.
- Unauthorised access to systems or data.
- Memory problems on machines or network devices.
Common Tricks Played by Cybercriminals
Often a cyber-attacker will try to ensure that the victim doesn’t realise that they are being targeted. The cyber-attacker will frequently attempt to ‘spoof’ or impersonate systems or networks that they think might belong to their intended victim. Check out our webinar ‘Stop Phishing Attacks and Block Email Impersonation’ for more information on how to remedy this.
Another type of cyber-attack is ‘soaking’ in which the attacker attempts to consume as much of the victim’s available bandwidth as possible. In this stage, the attacker will often target highly visible or very popular websites. You can typically spot a soaking attack by looking for unusually large traffic volumes. If you see unusual traffic volumes or significant denial of service attacks on popular websites, this is a sure sign that someone is trying to take down your website.
‘Trolling’, is when the attacker tries to make the victim think they’re being attacked by someone else. A typical example of this is when a website is hacked, and an email is sent to the webmaster, claiming that the website has been hacked and demanding a ransom.
Cybercriminals that are known as ‘Griefers’ flood the victim with so much traffic that they cannot respond to legitimate requests. Unfortunately, this is often accompanied by abusive messages or other malicious behaviour. The attacker hopes that the victim will become so bogged down that they will have no choice but to pay up or suffer the consequences.
The Stages of a Cyber-attack
Cyber-attacks have a certain sequence of events before an attack. The first is ‘reconnaissance’ which is when the attacker will learn about vulnerabilities in the target computer or network. Once he has found out information on where to find sensitive data, ‘exploitation’ can take place and it means gaining access to files and data on the attacked computer.
How to Protect Your Organisation from a Cyber-attack
Before a cyber incident occurs, you should have strict policies and procedures for managing your company’s security. Then, look for and implement security measures to help you protect critical data, systems, and assets from hackers and cybercriminals—one of the most important aspects of a cyber incident response strategy in mitigating the damage caused.
To effectively deal with a cyber incident, you need to know the information it revealed and which systems or assets were affected. This knowledge will help you prioritise your recovery efforts. Next, you need to take steps to contain the incident by removing the malware and securing your network against future attacks. These steps will help prevent your company’s critical assets from being damaged or lost during the incident.
To protect yourself against a cyber-attack, you need to know how you are most exposed. There are several tools you can use to gain visibility into your network.
- Vulnerability and Threats Monitoring
The first step is to monitor your network for vulnerabilities and threats. This is a crucial step to alert you to any newly discovered security threats. It is also essential to test your systems for known vulnerabilities.
- Identity and Access Management
After identifying the weakness in your authentication process, you will need to protect it. This will prevent a single point of failure that can lead to a successful attack.
Cyber-attacks are one of the most significant risks to businesses. They are not only costly but also have wide-ranging impacts. As a result, organisations are investing more and more in cybersecurity. By implementing the necessary measures, the risk of a cyber-attack can be reduced. If you’re looking for cybersecurity specialists who can help your organisation secure your data and networks, then my team are here to help, just book a call!
About Brett Edgecombe, Managing Director, 101 Data Solutions
Even as a child living in Canada, Brett always had an interest in technology, so starting his career within the technology industry was a natural progression in 1998 when it began at the UK’s first ISP, Compuserve Interactive Services in Bristol.
He has first-hand experience in modern Enterprise Storage Infrastructure solutions, having worked at Sun Microsystems in 2000, where he worked with large commercial and education customers across the UK.
Brett created 101 Data Solutions in 2008 with a focus on Data Storage centric delivered through high-quality technology solutions direct to businesses throughout the UK. His strategic vision and sector knowledge allows him to bring excellence to 101’s customers through experience, technical foresight and relationship building.