In late September one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies [Optus] suffered a severe security breach that has seen nearly 10 million users have their personal information leaked, and exposed to potentially harmful entities.
The Optus hack has been attributed to human error which is why you should train your staff in cyber security to ensure customer and company data remain secure.
Experiencing a hack can be detrimental to your business’ reputation and potentially result in a loss of customers.
But what exactly are the types of cyber threats you should be aware of and what are the best practices to prevent security breaches? Keep reading to find out!
Common cyber threats
Malicious software, often referred to as malware is a software developed by cybercriminals with the intent to steal information, harm or destroy computers and computer systems. A malware attack has the potential to withdraw sensitive information in large quantities.
Here are a few examples of malware:
Spyware is a type of software with a specific goal to obtain data about an individual or operation, and send it to a harmful third-party entity.
Malicious spyware ultimately profits from the stolen information and leaves you susceptible to security breaches and mishandled personal data. It can also impact the performance of your network or devices.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that prevents you from accessing your computer system until a certain amount of money is paid.
Individuals can be given details as to how they can pay and receive the decryption key. Cybercriminals are typically paid in cryptocurrency as obtaining a crypto wallet doesn’t require personal information, meaning they can operate anonymously.
Advertising-supported software or adware, as it’s most commonly known, is a software designed to bombard your web browser or mobile device with advertisements.
Adware can end up on your device by either installing a free app or program without realising it contains adware OR your system may be vulnerable to cyber criminals, increasing the chances of adware being implemented into your system.
A computer worm is a type of malware that self-replicates and spreads from one device to another autonomously once it has reached the system. Worms are most commonly transmitted by vulnerabilities within a software or reside in attachments from spam emails or messages.
They have the ability to delete or change files and even insert more malware onto a device.
Phishing refers to the method of sending out fraudulent emails claiming to be from credible businesses.
This type of social engineering is invented to persuade individuals to give out their personal data (credit card numbers, passwords etc.) and then expose them to harmful software such as ransomware.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack involves a malicious attempt to disrupt a targeted server, service or network’s traffic by flooding the target or their foundation with internet traffic.
These attacks use several jeopardised computer systems as a method to abuse traffic. Aside from computers, loT devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, smart door locks, smart security systems etc. can also be exploited.
The importance of training your staff in cyber security
Human error is one of the main causes of data leakages and can leave your business open to attack, which makes it all the more necessary to inform and give your employees the skills to identify, manage and contain potential threats.
Effectively training your staff in cyber security can lead to better security within your business and provide greater data protection.
Cybercrime costs Australian businesses billions of dollars every year along with hours of unnecessary downtime.
Having a quality security training program for your staff helps prevent these costly ramifications. It also helps businesses who are on the smaller scale, as startups can face closing down if their security is breached.
Here are some of the benefits you can experience by having robust cybersecurity practices.
- Better protection for workers
- Improved compliance
- More confident and skilled team members
- Reduced downtime
- Enhanced security
- Minimised costs
Cyber security tips
For maximum cybersecurity, consider the following tips in addition to training your staff.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) & Two-Factor authentication (2FA)
Multi-factor and two-factor authentication are authentication methods where an individual is given access to an app or website after presenting 2 or more pieces of evidence to confirm their identity, such as password and a verification OTP (One Time Password).
This strengthens your security since the hacker now needs to obtain two or more pieces of authentication in order to get access to the targeted network, device or database.
Virtual Private Network or VPN allows sensitive data to be safely transmitted and prevents unauthorised entities from tapping into this traffic.
A VPN works by hiding your IP address from government agencies, businesses and possible hackers. It also provides users with an encrypted server.
Anti-virus & anti-malware
Anti-virus is designed to identify and eliminate malicious software and other harmful viruses whereas anti-malware software protects your system from all types of malware like adware, spyware, worms etc.
Forgotten a password once or 100 times? You’re not the only one, which is why using a password manager can help store and access your passwords automatically.
If you’re using the same password for everything, then a hacker can easily access other areas that contain sensitive information. Password managers operate to improve security by use of encryption and allow you to have a range of randomly generated and highly secure diverse passwords.
Cyber attacks are occurring at a significant rate, putting businesses of all sizes at risk, which is evident in the Optus hack. Having a diverse cybersecurity training program for your staff, and giving them the resources to detect and manage cyber threats can prevent data leakage and damage to your business.
Keep your customers and company safe by taking all the necessary precautions to combat these malicious entities.