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The Unstoppable Modern Hacks (and How to Stop Them)

Modern Hacking How to Stop

It should go without saying that business owners and key stakeholders need to make the most sensible choices possible when it comes to purchasing security software and services.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that the security-related purchases you make (no matter how high-end and expensive they may be) will alone suffice in fighting off all would-be hackers from entering your network uninvited.

As such, let’s look at five of the most common ways cybercriminals navigate around or through company defenses and into their networks, and also what businesses like yours can do to better protect yourself.

Infected USB Drives and Apps

No firewall in the world, next-gen or otherwise, will protect a business LAN if your employees or a rogue visitor inserts an infected USB drive into your PC or server ports.

Once the payload has been installed, hackers can freely wreak havoc on your network, steal sensitive data and even create a ‘backdoor’ for future attacks.

Phishing Emails

Another common way hackers circumvent company security measures is through phishing. Malicious software is attached to an email disguised as a legitimate communication. A classic example of this is fake IRS demands, often written with threatening language designed to cause the recipient to panic into clicking a link or downloading a file.

Accounts departments are particularly vulnerable to phishing, as they spend a lot of time opening invoices and statements, one of which could easily contain phishing malware.

Compromised User Credentials

Good Identity and access management (IAM) posture is critical in protecting business assets from hackers. In fact, it’s arguable whether using a genuine user’s login and password details to get into a corporate network constitutes a form of hacking since no high-level coding knowledge or specialist software has been used.

Here are three ways in which cybercriminals can get a hold of user access details:

Stealing or copying them directly from an authentic user
Buying previously stolen credentials from a hackers’ marketplace
Taking advantage of default settings. For example, some software programs and hardware devices are shipped with a standard admin log-in that never ends up being changed by the end user. Don’t be someone who does this, please

There is also the risk of authorized users ‘going rogue’ – either for personal reasons, as a result of blackmail or coercion, or otherwise.

Social Engineering

Although all of the hacks listed above require some semblance of social engineering, It is amazing how easily some cybersecurity defenses can be breached by what can only be described as classic ‘con man’ tactics.

For example, hacker-turned-security-guru Kevin Mitnick has previously demonstrated how he managed to gain physical access to a data center simply by arranging a bogus sales meeting and then using a cloning device to remotely copy the access credentials embedded in an agent’s security badge. It seemed almost too easy.

Zero-Day Exploits

Fun fact: Businesses that rely on signature-based malware detection alone will never be able to stop a zero-day exploit. Never. Why? Because zero-day attacks feature malicious software that has never been used before – similar to a brand new strain of a virus. You can’t stop what you can’t see coming.

In order to truly safeguard your network, multiple forms of intrusion detection and prevention must be utilized.

How to shore up your defenses – and where Shamrock can help

With the exception of zero-day exploits, all of the hacks we’ve touched on above rely on human factors to a certain degree:

A USB drive can only be inserted into a company device if that device is left unattended or an employee decides to attack the company.

A phishing email is harmless until a human falls for the ruse and clicks a malicious link or downloads an infected file.

Finally, it is every employee’s responsibility to keep their access credentials secure, and it’s every business owner’s job to have a concrete IAM policy that enforces regular password changes.

The best way to stop these types of hack (or at least reduce the risk significantly) is to implement robust security policies and to ensure all staff attend high quality cybersecurity training and that this is reinforced regularly.

But how do you know that the policies and trainings you implement are sufficient to protect your business from cybercriminals? Talk to Shamrock.

While we can’t train your staff for you, we do partner with the top security providers in the industry who can help you analayze your current environment and procure the best cloud-based protections for your business.

Harnessing the power of AI and the cloud’s vast compute and storage resources, the best security products and services can monitor user behavior for anomalies, identify the signs of an impending attack and supply granular forensics for continuous improvements.

Making the right decisions around securing your network is one of the most important things an IT leader can do. But you don’t have to do it alone. All of our consultations (and most of our services) are completely free, and our experts will help you find the right security solutions for the guaranteed best price.

Paul Cooney

Paul Cooney

Paul Cooney is the Founder and President of Shamrock Consulting Group with over two decades of experience in the telecom industry. After finding early success selling fixed wireless for Teligent, Inc. in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, he took over AT&T struggling Los Angeles sales team and turned them into one of the best teams in the country within 6 months. In 2008, Paul left AT&T to start Shamrock, which he has grown into an award-winning industry leader capable of selling any product from any provider at the guaranteed best price.

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