Of the many challenges facing businesses today, one of the most pervasive is the threat that cyber attacks pose to security and productivity. Chief among the responses to this problem is prevention and detection. In this blog, Naveen Kaushik, Content+Cloud’s Cyber Sales Director, lays out a methodical approach to cyber attack prevention and what to consider when building your security strategy.
Reacting to the changing cyber threat landscape
In today’s digital world, the threat landscape is constantly evolving. As technology advances and more devices connect to the internet, the number of potential vulnerabilities and attack vectors increase. This is why Microsoft classes prioritising security as one of five digital imperatives which organisations must act upon urgently. The digital imperative calls on organisations to infuse every process with technology and optimise efficiency through doing more with less.
In my session for Content+Cloud’s on-demand Digital Revolution3 with Pravesh Kara, we give a cyber consultancy view on the need for organisations to stay vigilant in order to protect their networks, systems and data from cyber threats.
In the session, and as I’ll explain below, understanding the nature of these threats in order to survive a cyber attack is a complex task. It requires knowledge of the changing cyber threat landscape and a balance between offence and defence.
Cybersecurity: offence vs defence
Offence in cybersecurity refers to the actions taken by attackers to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorised access to networks, systems and data. These attacks can take many forms, including phishing, malware and ransomware. In order to be successful, attackers must have a deep understanding of the technology and tactics they are using, as well as the target’s systems and defences.
The key to successful defence is understanding the nature of the threats organisations are facing and staying one step ahead of the attackers. This requires a combination of both proactive and reactive measures.
Proactive measures involve identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities before they can be exploited, while reactive measures involve responding to and recovering from attacks that have already occurred.
When we talk about defence in the cyber realm, we mean the actions taken by organisations to protect their networks, systems and data from attacks. This includes implementing security controls such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems and antimalware software, as well as creating policies and procedures to mitigate risk. Additionally, organisations must stay up-to-date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities in order to anticipate and prevent attacks.
Cyber attack prevention and detection
One of the most important proactive measures in cyber attack prevention and detection is vulnerability management. This involves regularly identifying and assessing the vulnerabilities in an organisation’s systems and networks, and then taking steps to patch or mitigate them. This can include applying software updates, configuring systems to be more secure and implementing security controls such as intrusion detection systems and firewalls.
Another important proactive measure is incident response planning. This involves creating a plan to respond to and recover from cyber attacks, as well as identifying and mitigating the risk of future attacks. You’ll need to establish a team to handle incident response, identifying key personnel and responsibilities, and regularly testing and refining the incident response plan.
Reactive measures include incident response and incident management. Incident response involves taking immediate action to contain the damage of an attack and prevent it from spreading. This can include isolating affected systems, shutting down network access, and restoring systems from backups. Incident management involves analysing the attack and identifying the root cause, as well as taking steps to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future.
Another important defence strategy is threat intelligence. This involves collecting, analysing and disseminating information about cyber threats in order to stay ahead of the attackers. Tasks include identifying and understanding the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by attackers, as well as identifying the tools and malware they use. By staying up-to-date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities, organisations can anticipate and prevent attacks.
We can take a closer look at prevention and detection by using one particular type of cyber attack – ransomware – as an example.
How does ransomware spread?
Ransomware is a type of malware, a malicious software, which encrypts the victim’s files making them inaccessible, and then demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.
Falling victim to a ransomware attack can have severe consequences for your organisation, as the encrypted files can include important business documents, financial records and other sensitive information. How companies should handle ransomware is a critical component of their cyber security strategy.
Despite this type of attack becoming increasingly common and sophisticated, many people are still unaware of how ransomware can spread. So what actually happens when an attack takes place?
Attackers often use phishing emails or exploit vulnerabilities in software to deliver the malware to the victim’s systems. Once the malware is installed, it encrypts the victim’s files and displays a ransom note with instructions on how to pay the ransom. The attackers typically demand payment in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to avoid detection.
How to defeat ransomware
An important defence strategy recommended by our cyber consultancy to defeat ransomware is to implement regular and robust backups of important data and to store them in a separate and secure location, so that it can be easily restored in case of a successful attack. This will help you minimise the impact of a ransomware attack and to recover from it more quickly.
In addition, you should train your employees to identify and avoid phishing emails and other forms of social engineering. For example, you should educate employees about the tell-tale signs that an email is a phishing attempt, such as generic greetings and requests for personal information, as well as providing them with guidelines on how to handle suspicious emails.
How to survive a cyber attack: get a view from a leading cyber consultancy
The changing threat landscape requires organisations to take a proactive and reactive approach in order to stay ahead of the attackers, and much of the good work you can do towards ransomware prevention will develop your overall cyber maturity and your resilience to attacks from other vectors.
Want more information about how Microsoft technology can help secure your data and protect your organisation? Sign up for more insights from our on-demand Digital Revolution³ virtual event where our experts deconstruct what the digital imperative means for the global workforce, including the critical topic of how to survive a cyber attack.