The three cyber threats that must be on your radar in 2018

Criminals are launching more attacks on UK businesses than ever before. Enterprises across the country have had to up their game in an attempt to protect themselves from ransomware, data breaches and weaknesses in supply chain.   It just takes a quick Google search of ‘cyber attacks’ to see the sheer amount of news coverage on the scale of attacks.   In fact, more than four in 10 (43%) UK businesses and two in 10 (19%) charities suffered a cyber attack or breach in the last 12 months, according to the 2018 Cyber Security Breaches Survey.   As cyber attacks become ever more refined, here are the top three that you should keep heavily on your radar:

1. Phishing

The practice of phishing has been happening for more than 20 years and is getting increasingly sophisticated. The method used to disguise oneself as a trustworthy and reliable contact – such as a bank or service provider– has fooled many into handing over sensitive data. Astonishingly, half of attacks are said to be successful.

Innovative software has positively revolutionised IT infrastructure, but malicious software has the potential to destroy it

A worrying trend is the rapidly increasing number of phishing sites that are hosted on HTTPS domains. According to the 2017 Phishing Trends & Intelligence Report by managed security services provider PhishLabs, less than 5% of phishing sites were on HTTPS infrastructure, but by 2017 this had risen to almost 33%.   Other developments include:   • Smishing – when someone tries to trick you into giving them your private information via a text message. • Mailsploit – that allows hackers to send phishing emails that look like the real thing. There is said to be no way to distinguish a phishing email from a genuine one. It can spoof email addresses to both the user and the email server. • Spear Phishing – targeting specific organisations or individuals, seeking unauthorised access to sensitive information.

2. Cloud targeting

Cloud may have transformed the way businesses use, share and store data, but with that has brought a whole host of security threats and challenges.   Constantly ranked as a top concern for cloud computing is ‘data breaches’. It could be the primary objective of a targeted attack or simply just the result of human error. Either way, a data breach can expose sensitive customer information, intellectual property and trade secrets. Reputable cloud services typically have numerous security procedures in place, however, it’s up to you to implement a plan for protecting your data in the cloud.

3. Malware

Innovative software has positively revolutionised IT infrastructure, but malicious software has the potential to destroy it.Some major ransomware outbreaks occurred in 2017 and many experts are expecting a similar level of attacks this year.   More attacks are now becoming ‘click-less’. End-users are becoming more wary of clicking a suspicious link or attachment, so attackers have begun launching ‘click-less attacks’. Malware is now breaching organisations via remote execution exploits or via brute force – bypassing user interaction altogether. Once one computer is infected, the entire network can be compromised.

“Attackers will target the most vulnerable part of a supply chain to reach their intended victim”

WannaCry and Trickbot used worm functionality to spread malware, and experts believe more will use worm techniques in 2018. This is likely because network compromise from worms spread faster than many other methods.   Malware campaigns are leveraging more worm capabilities to spread laterally, allowing them to extend their reach beyond the original infected network. WannaCry’s worm component spread ransomware to external victims, leading to 400,000 infected machines in 150 countries.   Eliminating this type of malware can be very difficult due to its persistence; they tend to leave behind ‘back doors’ and ‘scheduled tasks’ that can reinstall themselves, disrupting the business all over again.

Are you at risk?

It doesn’t matter how good your company’s cyber-security is, you can still be at risk.   The annual National Cyber Security Centre report highlighted that “it is clear that even if an organisation has excellent cyber-security, there can be no guarantee that the same standards are applied by contractors and third-party suppliers in the supply chain.   “Attackers will target the most vulnerable part of a supply chain to reach their intended victim.”   Security should be a top priority for all businesses and remain so. At SCC, we take security very seriously, and ensure some of the biggest businesses in the UK are shielded from attackers.

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