17 May Cyber Attacks – Combating the Threat
In the previous article we explored cyber threats and their ability to affect us on a global scale – in particular, Russia’s use of cyber attacks against Ukraine in the conflict currently underway there. In this article we will look at what you can do to best combat cyber threats.
The impact of cyber threats can go two ways: Direct and Indirect.
By ‘indirect’ we mean that neither you nor your computer are targeted individually. Instead, the target is something else, perhaps infrastructural like supply chains, banks, water supplies, or communications. There is, of course, not much you can do about these attacks, but how long can your business survive – or you personally, in fact – without water, electricity, or food?
By ‘direct’ we mean an attack targeting you specifically. It is common practice in war for civilians to be targeted in an attempt to cause carnage and hopefully weaken the target’s desire to continue the war in the first place. The consequences of these attacks are obviously not as severe as an indirect attack, but think about it – what if all of your data is stolen or deleted, what if there are no copies of that data, and what if that data is personal and sentimental (like photos or something of that nature)?
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
There isn’t much you can do personally – as we mentioned earlier – but by working as a community we can collectively influence the government to be more motivated to improve its protection and preparation in the face of such breaches.
We don’t usually realise just how badly prepared we are for an attack until it is too late. A cyber attack – as we have already explored – if sophisticated enough, can have the same impact as a tsunami or forest fire, because by knocking out essential infrastructure a cyber attack could starve a nation or freeze them to death. As the effects aren’t instant and quite so devastating to the eye people don’t appreciate their severity.
There is also – as we mentioned in our previous article – the potential for severe collateral damage like the world has never seen from a cyber attack. Let’s make up a scenario – for example, a cyber attack is committed on a major US city, it targets the water supply directly, causing surges in pressure which forces pipes to burst at random points. Not only could there be casualties but the collateral damage could be enormous. During the disaster and its immediate aftermath, supply chains are disrupted, people have no drinking water, and panic begins to set in. In the following days things only get worse, businesses are making claims to their insurance companies for time that they have had to keep their businesses shut and for the price of the bottled water they have been forced to buy in the meantime (costing them millions in pay outs). And this is just the beginning, and all without firing a weapon of any sort.
On the other hand, protecting your own system is relatively simple. Having strong passwords and instructing your team to not click on links that look suspicious are just a few – but even these simple precautions are overlooked by many. Modern day threats are even worse than many fear – our computers have vulnerabilities that don’t even require a click to facilitate, so it is for this reason that we need to adopt whatever methods are necessary to protect our systems. This can be done by:
- Making sure that your software is up to date throughout your organization – This is integral, as up-to-date software will have the latest security measures as standard. Along with this you need to be sure that all known vulnerabilities in earlier versions have been patched.
- Having effective antivirus and malware detection software — This is essential because Malware attacks can be very dangerous – your system may have already been attacked, and Malware could be laying dormant on your computer waiting for the right time to cause carnage.
- Frequently backing up your important data, such as documents that are only stored in once place – As there is no way to guarantee cyber security, this is important. Not backing your data up could be disastrous, because if your data is destroyed and you have no other copy just how will you continue working?
These are just some of the many steps that you can take to combat cyber threats to both our country and your system individually, but there are many more things you can do to further protect yourself. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us to find out more.
Founded in 1984, Horizon started off as a custom software company doing work for Snap-on Tools. We rapidly added helpdesk and network support to the business and have continued expanding our capabilities ever since – all while also successfully transitioning to a second generation of owners.
Our team has over a hundred years of combined experience in virtually every field of IT. We are trusted by clients of every size, from ‘mom ‘n’ pop’ local businesses all the way to multinational corporations who have heavy security and inter-connectivity requirements. Our employees deliver a truly customer-focused direction in everything we do.
After more than thirty years in business, Horizon continues to grow both our client base and our knowledge. We look forward to working with you to help your business enjoy that same success. Contact us now and see what we can do for you.