Apr 4, 2019

Different types of cybersecurity threats and how to protect your SMB from them

Despite the massive number of data breaches globally, a recent study by Deloitte found that only 25% of organizations are planning to defend themselves against such. This is alarming, especially with the omnipresent cyberthreats to small- or medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Here are the common types of cybersecurity threat you should watch out for and some tips on how to mitigate them.

#1 Malware

Malicious software, or simply malware, is unwanted software that gets installed in your system without your consent. For instance, a seemingly harmless email attachment may contain a link to a malware that can infect your device.

You may be more familiar with its types, such as viruses, trojans, worms, or ransomware. Once the malware is in your system, it can take control of your machine, monitor your actions, or expose your data to unauthorized people.

All these illicit actions can stem from a single mistake you make — clicking the link. This is why the best thing to do is avoid clicking unfamiliar links or ads. You should also check the email addresses of every email you receive, especially if they contain links.

#2 Phishing and spear phishing attacks

Phishing is the practice of sending email from seemingly trusted sources to gain personal information or to influence users to download malware. Spear phishing is a more specific, targeted type of phishing. In spear phishing, attackers take their time to tailor their messages and make them relevant to the person they’re sending them to.

For instance, hackers can send you an email, making it seem as if it came from someone you know, such as your partner company, bank, or boss. They may also use website cloning — copying of legitimate websites to fool you into entering your personally identifiable information (PII).

To avoid getting phished, be more critical with the emails you receive. Hover over the links before clicking them so that you can check whether you recognize the website or not. Check the email headers if the “Reply-to” and “Return Path” lead to the same domain. Lastly, observe sandboxing. You can test an email content using sandboxing without putting the rest of your device at risk.

#3 Denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

DoS and DDoS overwhelm a system’s resources so it cannot respond to service requests, similar to how you can’t squeeze your car into a one-lane country road during a county fair or a major sporting event. Some harmless reasons can cause this kind of traffic jam, like when a massive news story breaks. But sometimes, the traffic overload is due to an attack, aiming to shut the system down for all users.

During a DoS attack, a website or a system is flooded with more traffic than it can handle, making it impossible for it to serve up its content. A DDoS attack is quite similar to a DOS attack, but the former is launched from a large number of malware-infected host machines, all controlled by an attacker.

Unlike other attacks, DoS and DDoS aren’t designed to gain access to a system. For some hackers, they’re just meant to annoy the users. For others, these kinds of attacks are just a foot in the door for other attacks they want to launch.

There are several types of DoS and DDoS attacks, which means there are multiple countermeasures for all types. But for the most common one, TCP SYN flood attack, a few things you need to do is increase the size of your connection queue and decrease the timeout on open connections.

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