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Cyber security threats — what to look out for

By Beatrice Thomas

 Understanding the cyber security threats that may impact your business is just the start of becoming cyber savvy, says IT expert Craig Tamlin. 

Threat #1 — Ransomware 

Also known as crypto locker-type viruses, a malicious player encrypts files on your computer so you can't get access to them until you've paid a ransom.  

The threat usually enters via a phishing email (an email that's sent to the user, who is tricked into clicking on a link or opening an attachment). 

Often the money is required to be paid in a non-traceable form, such as Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. 

Solutions:  

  1. Use a data system backup. delete all the files that have been encrypted and restore them from your backups. However, sometimes the backups are encrypted too. Ask yourself: is my backup system good enough, and would it be protected from a ransomware threat? 
  2. Secure email gateway. or an email filter, that removes malicious emails, before they can even reach a user’s inbox. The best way of stopping ransomware is to stop it getting in the door in the first place. 
  3. Train users. Teach users not to click on anything suspicious: a malicious link, or open a malicious attachment in the first place — nip the attack in the bud as it makes its way into the organisation. 

Tamlin says training staff about cybersecurity is a key challenge that all organisations must address immediately. 

"Users aren't IT experts; depending on the industry, some are completely non-technical and use IT systems like email only because it's part of receiving their pay slip or they're filling in electronic form,” he says. 

“That's a really interesting challenge, because these users really don't have a passion for technology and they are not born with knowledge about what a malicious link in an email might look like.” 

 “In fact, 96 per cent of malicious cyber activity commences life as an email,” Tamlin says. 

Threat #2 — Social engineering 

According to Norton, social engineering is the art of manipulating someone to divulge sensitive or confidential information, usually through digital communication, that can be used for fraudulent purposes. 

An example of this could involve an email from a Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail account to an employee from someone pretending to be the CEO. 

They say they are using their private email because they’re out of the office. They tell the employee to go to a retail store and buy four $100 gift cards for staff as rewards for work well done. 

There's no normal naming standard for Gmail, so an unusual name and number combination doesn’t raise suspicions. The unsuspecting employee buys the gift cards, and emails the serial numbers, which are cashed in by the malicious player. 

"Guess what? There's no executable code on the computer, there's no encrypted files, there's nothing else that they've made off with but the number on the gift cards,” says Tamlin. 

He says often new employees are targeted, because they may not know what’s standard practice in a business.

Solutions:  

  1. Training users: Identifying what is an acceptable email, and encouraging staff to ask questions about any requests that seem unusual will help to combat social engineering tactics.  
Administration rights are not for all 

Tamlin says local user administration rights should be restricted to just one IT person for a business with up to 50 staff. 

“Giving administration rights to multiple users within an organisation is a significant risk because they could inadvertently download malicious code, and then it spreads laterally across from one computer to the next to the next, to infect the entire business,” he says. 

“If you stop the malicious code from being installed in the first place, then it can't spread and perform malicious activities.” 

 

For more information on how to set up your organisation’s cyber security, or for a tailored training package, contact Lumen IT. 

 Understanding the cyber security threats that may impact your business is just the start of becoming cyber savvy, says IT expert Craig Tamlin. 

Threat #1 — Ransomware 

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