Over the last few weeks, cyberattacks have impacted individuals and businesses around the world. A new technique called “HTML smuggling” allows hackers to embed malicious scripts inside innocuous-seeming emails. A recent attack on the web hosting giant GoDaddy exposed the email addresses of 1.2 million customers—most of whom manage WordPress accounts. Microsoft had to issue emergency patches to fix active flaws in its heavily used Excel and Exchange applications. And HP revealed critical vulnerabilities in several consumer printer models.
Even an escalating cyberwar between Israel and Iran is now targeting ordinary civilians. In November, Iran’s 4,300 gas stations were paralyzed for 12 days. Two weeks later, a retaliatory attack exposed the hospital records and dating app details of 1.5 million Israelis, or 15 percent of the country’s total population. Those intrusions then cascaded, compromising Instagram, Facebook, and Gmail accounts of those affected.
These represent some of the most prominent instances of civilians being targeted by a significant cyberattack. Security experts worry it could become a disturbing new trend once hackers realize how much chaos and suffering such attacks may cause. It’s no longer feasible to wait for a cybersecurity problem before taking action to secure your data, your devices, and the digital identities of your staff members. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, it’s not so much a matter of if you will be hacked but rather when and how bad the attack will be. As hackers develop more complex tactics, companies and their employees must have contingency plans in place to secure networks, protect devices, and maintain day-to-day operations.
At CMIT Solutions, we’ve gathered five important steps you can take to mitigate the threat you might face from increasing cyberattacks, data breaches, and other online problems.
As more and more companies have shifted toward hybrid and remote work, millions of individuals across North America have started using unprotected laptops, tablets, smartphones, and Wi-Fi routers. If they haven’t already, these devices need to be brought inside your company’s ring of protection immediately. It’s important to extend these extra layers of IT security using remote desktop protocols, cloud-based app management, enhanced network protection, and even multi-factor authentication for safer user access.
What many business owners consider a nuisance can in fact be a serious security problem. Last year, millions of machines powered by Windows 7 reached their “end of life” after Microsoft discontinued support for the legacy operating system. In 2017, the ransomware infection WannaCry targeted computers still running Windows XP after that end of support, exploiting a known vulnerability to steal unsecured data and shut down millions of interconnected systems. Instead of waiting for your systems to reach this end-of-support point, assessing them now will help you develop a smart plan for upgrade or replacement moving forward. If you’re not backing up your information regularly, remotely, and redundantly, your business is probably at risk.
Most ransomware attacks have such a devastating effect precisely because companies don’t have access to backup copies of recent data. That leaves them no choice but to give in to a hacker’s demands and pay thousands of dollars of ransom to try and retrieve stolen or encrypted information. Investment in this area pays off, too, protecting against everything from natural disasters to user error to hardware failure. All it takes is a couple of days of significant data downtime to severely affect your company’s bottom line, where a reliable data backup and recovery protocol could have you back up and running in hours instead of weeks.
Many data breaches and cyberattacks are caused by seemingly simple behaviors: clicking on a web link in an email, downloading an infected attachment, or divulging private information to a bad actor posing as a colleague or boss. That’s why employee training is so important. Savvy employees who know how to spot cyberattacks in the wild can serve as a critical first line of defense, flagging spam emails or alerting IT professionals to suspicious online activity that can then be addressed by trained technicians.
A part-time employee handling computer issues on the side won’t get it done. In our rapidly changing online world, your business deserves dedicated IT support that addresses short-term vulnerabilities while working with you to develop a long-term strategy for business success. A proactive approach can mitigate many of the risks outlined above—it doesn’t matter if you’re a large enterprise with multiple locations and hundreds of employees scattered around North America, or a small neighborhood business with just a few individual staff members.
At CMIT Solutions, our goal is to keep every employee and every device safe. With more than 200 offices and 800 technicians spread across North America, we serve as a trusted business partner to thousands of clients, working 24/7/365 to defend your data, strengthen your systems, and empower your employees to work smarter and more efficiently.
Want to grow your business instead of worrying about a cyberattack? Looking to beef up cybersecurity while avoiding a data breach? Contact CMIT Solutions today.