How Cyber Attacks Cripple Businesses

We place so much faith in digital communication and data transfer that it’s easy to trust too much in the systems we have in place. Cyber attacks – hackers attempting to break into systems and either cause disruption or steal sensitive information – are far from unusual and affect everyone from the individual through small and growing businesses to major multinational corporations. 

It’s a simple fact that 100% security cannot be achieved. There will always be a way in somewhere; a mistake made here and there, a gap in the security measures that can be breached. Yet, it is vital that every business invests in the best cyber security measures. We’re going to look at the different types of cyber attacks and why you need a Cyber Security Expert to perform an audit regularly and keep you up to date.

Main Types of Cyber Attack

Cyber attacks have been major news in the USA for the past few days as I write this, with the enforced shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline – a 5,500mile pipeline that carries millions of barrels of fuel between Texas and New York each day – by hackers. This is an example of one of the most common forms of cyber attacks known as ‘ransomware.’ This sort of attack involves a method of blocking entry to vital parts of the network, in this case, that which operates the pipeline. At the time of writing, it is believed the owners have paid a ransom of $5million to the hackers. 

Another type of cyber attack is a DDoS attack or Distributed Denial of Service. A DDoS involves flooding a network with traffic in many forms, forcing it to slow down to a point where it can no longer cope. This is a popular way of crippling smaller businesses and is easy to attain if the security measures in place are in the least bit lax. A DDoS attack can lose a small business day while the network is recovered, and larger businesses too.

Phishing and Man-In-The-Middle

Two further cyber security threats come in the form of ‘Phishing’ and ‘Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks. These are both clever yet surprisingly simple and target a user’s trust of lack of understanding of security while online.

Phishing is asking people to provide information that can be of use to the person requesting it. This could be email or physical addresses, phone numbers, bank or credit card details, or passwords to online accounts. Phishing takes many forms from a direct approach by email that may be posing as a legitimate company, or by posting questionnaires asking for such the name of the user’s first pet, their date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and many other details often used as passwords.

The MitM attack is clever and also simple. It involves a hacker getting between two individuals or businesses talking on an open or public Wi-Fi network. Unknown to the users, all the information will pass through the Man in the Middle. The other method is to insert software in a network that allows them to see all information between certain parties.

The Effect on a Business

The above is not a comprehensive list but simply an explanation of some of the most common forms of cyber attacks. The effect on a business can be colossal, with loss of income and the theft of customers, suppliers, and employee’s sensitive information.

If any confirmation was needed that hacking attacks are widespread, the health service in Ireland suffered a ‘significant ransomware attack’ in the few days before this was written. No matter how small or large your business is, you need to keep up to date with security threats, so contact the experts right now.

Adam Hansen