High profile data leaks and security breaches have been commonplace in the past few years, with instances of high-profile breaches of large tech companies often making the news. However, it’s not just tech giants who are at risk of having their business’ or their customers’ data accessed by outside entities; small and medium-size organizations across all industries can be at risk as well. Recently, such an example manifested at Georgia Tech University, where an unauthorized user of a university web application exposed information like names, birth dates, and social security numbers for up to 1.3 million people. The implications of these leaks can range from an outside actor simply viewing the data to find anything of use, to using the information they extract to discover perceived weaknesses at your firm, or even demanding a ransom for disposing of the data.
How Breaches Occur
There are countless ways by which a potential hacker could infiltrate your IT systems. It’s not uncommon for a hacker to make multiple attempts using different methods to find a successful way to breach any potential defenses. Email is a well-known route, with techniques such as phishing widely known to have the potential to allow a hacker into your systems, but it’s important to watch out for more than just suspicious addresses. Whaling is another deceptive technique that hackers may use, which entails the individual sending you a message appearing to be a person or entity who you know or trust, while actually having an intent to obtain some form of information.
By analyzing data – like information sent from your computer while browsing the web, which can include details about your browser, operating system, whether the transmission was encrypted, and more – a potential unauthorized user can begin formulating a strategy to exploit security vulnerabilities that may exist in your system. For example, if the version of software your machine is running is out of date and has an unpatched security issue, a hacker may be able to infer that by obtaining HTTP-based data, and breach the system that way.
What You Can Do to Prevent a Breach
It’s important to realize that while there are lots of steps everyone can take to protect their digital assets, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, general practices such as keeping your system and application software as up to date as possible will help safeguard you from known threats, as well as avoiding suspicious looking emails, even if the address seems familiar at first glance.
Other approaches can be tailored to your needs; for example, if you run a business in which you only use a web browser and email when connecting to the internet, it may be prudent to invest in a hardware firewall, which can limit the internet traffic on your network to ports and services you permit. Updating passwords frequently or implementing multi-factor authentication can also help thwart or complicate any attacks from hackers.
Even with prudent measures, risks can still remain. Therefore, it’s important to invest in measures to protect your data by means other than upgrading security too. Investing in a backup solution can ensure that even if your business falls victim to an intrusion, that you will at least retain a copy of the data that was lost. Keeping backups up to date and maintaining multiple instances of them also protects you from other risks, such as data corruption, by allowing you to revert to a previous version of a file.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to take steps proactively to prevent an intrusion into your IT systems. If you’re looking for help in safeguarding your digital assets, NewCloud Networks has many offerings in areas such as Security as a Service, Backup as a Service, and more. Get in touch with us today to see how we may be able to support your IT security strategy.