February 18, 2022

Cyber attacks that can ruin your business

Tonny Tugee, Managing Director of SEACOM East Africa

Cyber crime is an ever-growing threat and experts predict that by 2025, it will cost the world $10.5 trillion (~R160-trillion) per year. This is more than the current global trade of illegal drugs combined. Cyber threats are continuously evolving with technology, so it’s vital for businesses to boost their digital security - especially for organisations that store sensitive data.

Small businesses are ideal targets for cyber criminals as they often lack the knowledge and resources to protect their IT systems and networks properly. According to recent statistics, 43% of cyber attacks are carried out on small businesses and 60% of these companies close down within six months of the attack.

Large corporations certainly aren’t safe either. SolarWinds - a Fortune 500 software company - was recently hacked and it took months before the business knew what was going on. The data of many high-profile clients, including the US military and the White House, was compromised. When it comes to cyber security, no one is safe. Here are some cyber threats to watch out for.

Phishing scams

These are some of the most common cyber attacks as they use social engineering to steam the login details or credentials of employees. The purpose is to gain access to an IT network and install malware. The cyber criminal poses as someone trustworthy, such as a banking representative or top company executive. They send an official-looking email or website URL to another employee.

This email or link contains a fake login form that records the employee’s username and password. The malware is automatically downloaded to the IT system, which gives the hacker access to any and all information stored on the server.

Phishing can take many forms but with the right cyber security software, these threats can be easily identified and filtered out before even reaching employees. An effective solution is to inform and train staff members to always exercise caution, however, certain security software should also be used to ensure better protection against phishing scams.

Ransomware attacks

Ransomware is software that infiltrates a computer or network and encrypts the victim’s files and databases. This renders them inaccessible or unreadable. The files and data are then held ransom until the victim pays the hacker, otherwise they risk losing everything. Cryptocurrencies are the preferred method of payment for modern ransomware attacks as they are nearly impossible to track.

These attacks are usually carried out using malware that is disguised as a regular file or email attachment. The software can also travel between computers on a network, effectively holding an entire company’s data hostage until payment is made.

Threats through the Internet of Things

Connected devices, including WiFi routers, appliances and security systems, work through the Internet of Things (IoT). This presents new possibilities for cyber criminals. For example, malware-ridden USB drives can be plugged into computers at reception, which can then compromise the entire business network.

Forbes points out that even printers can be hacked, giving criminals access to company documents and files. Leaving default passwords on WiFi routers or computers can also be disastrous. Mitigating these risks is easy for companies; ensure that all software is up-to-date, that passwords are changed regularly and implement strict rules on which devices are given access to the network.

Smartphones are particularly susceptible to malware - especially in the age where many employees work from their phones and access company emails and shared files. Devices from reputable manufacturers are usually less susceptible to cyber attacks, but employees need to keep their firmware and device security updated.

The war of algorithms

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are being implemented in many industries across the globe, from banking and healthcare to manufacturing and ICT. Now, AI has begun a war of algorithms - an unprecedented race between cyber criminals and cyber security firms to outdo one another with more intelligent software.

Hackers are using machine learning to deploy far more attacks than humans can. These attacks also have the ability to evolve and learn autonomously. Cyber security firms are being forced to fight fire with fire, using AI to analyse vast amounts of data and to hunt threats on a larger scale.

Whether a company is a small start-up or a massive multinational corporation, cyber security can no longer be placed on the backburner. Companies should consider outsourcing their security to a reputable company, such as SEACOM Business. Moving company data to the cloud is a good idea as it ensures better digital security for businesses of all sizes. For more information or to get a quote for our cyber security solutions, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s most extensive network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including subsea cables and secure internet connections. We offer a diverse range of flexible, scalable and high-quality solutions for businesses that meet world-class standards for connectivity.

SEACOM is privately owned and operated, making it agile and adaptable to the needs of the customer. This makes us the preferred ICT and internet connectivity partner for African businesses and peripheral service providers. We can guarantee high-speed, low-latency and secure internet connections to corporates and small enterprises.

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