Regardless of industry, large and small companies alike are constantly the target of hacking. Recently, there has been an increasing number of news about companies being the target of hacking and about software security vulnerabilities that have been discovered. A successful data system break-in compromises the reputation of the company, and in the worst case, the company’s business continuity may be at risk.
In the never-ending battle against data system break-ins, the challenge is that security threats are constantly evolving. Attackers come up with new ways to bypass protection and achieve the benefits they seek. Currently, more than half of the attacks are carried out without a malicious file. It is increasingly common that the built-in tools of operating systems (such as PowerShell) are used in attempted data system break-ins. Traditional firewalls and antivirus solutions using fingerprint identification are no longer a solution to security threats, although they are still necessary in practice.
Email is one of the traditional, popular channels for attacks. Users are sent malicious files, or the aim is to have the users click malicious links. With these methods, the attacker tries, for example, to take control of the user’s workstation or steal the user’s identity. As a result, attackers will be able to operate unnoticed in the company’s network and proceed towards their final goal.
Furthermore, carrying out such attacks is surprisingly easy. Tools for implementation can be found even in well-established data security testing tools that are available for free.
It is also possible to purchase hacking as a service, and it is not even terribly expensive.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH LAYERED PROTECTION
In order to protect themselves from hacking, companies must build layered protection. Layered security means creating multiple checkpoints along the attacker’s route so that hacking can be detected and prevented. Even if hacking cannot be prevented, layered security will at least hinder attacks and, at the very least, it provides more time to prevent a successful data system break-in.
To begin with, when building the protection, there should be an understanding of the protected assets and the related risks. Understanding the risks helps with appropriate allocation of security resources, which may also result in cost savings. In addition, knowledge of the various attack techniques and security threats helps select appropriate solutions for protecting the environment.
The actual safeguards are typically required at several levels. It is necessary to have the means to protect, for example, the network, terminal devices and individual services, while not forgetting the protection of user identities and the data itself. With several levels of security, a security threat that bypassed one protection level can be blocked at the second layer of protection, and the hacker will then have another nut to crack.
Regarding layered security, the weakest link located between the chair and the monitor—the user—should not be forgotten. Users are in some way involved in a large number of data system break-ins. For example, users might click a link in a fraudulent message and enter their user account details on a web page hosted by an attacker, or they might enable macros in a suspicious Excel file. For this reason, the users' awareness of security threats is an important part of security.
COMPLETELY IMPENETRABLE PROTECTION DOES NOT EXIST
One must remember, however, that there is no such thing as protection that is 100% secure. The starting point must be that some hacking attempts will be successful. Even if the company has established an appropriate level of security, it is essential to build up both the capability to detect any security threats bypassing the protection and the ability to react quickly to them.
On average, it takes companies 200 days to detect a data system break-in. The earlier the security threat is captured, the less damage it will cause. Quick reactions also increase the likelihood that the hacking can be blocked before the attacker reaches the destination they are trying to access.
A variety of technologies are available for the detection of security threats. However, many of the available technologies are unreasonably expensive and a lot of expert resources are required in order to achieve the desired benefits. For this reason, smaller companies often cannot utilise them. Moreover, technology alone is not enough to actually manage security threats. It is also important to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to minimise the impact of data system break-ins.
Fortunately, there are now modern solutions available for the detection of security threats, with the expertise of people and technology being effectively combined in these solutions. Artificial intelligence and machine learning enable new ways to detect security threats and they also carry out routine work on behalf of data security experts. With this, the amount of the required personnel resources can be kept at a reasonable level. Furthermore, these solutions enable the identification of more advanced security threats that typically have the strongest impact on a company’s business.
Therefore, preparing for data trespasses requires the right combination of modern technology and human competence. This ensures the effective detection of even advanced security threats and guarantees rapid response. This is recommended for all companies.
Author: Anttu Pekkarinen