Summary: Do you know how to defend your network from a cyberattack? There are steps you can take to make sure if a cyberattack does happen, you are prepared.
It is estimated that network hacks affect up to a billion people every year. Late this month, Facebook revealed that a hack may have gotten information on over 90 million user’s accounts. While no monetary figure has been revealed yet on the cost of the hack, it can be costly. Large-scale hacks, such as those that have happened to Target, Home Depot and Equifax, cost those companies hundreds of millions of dollars.
Research shows that cybercriminals have many different goals when it comes to perpetrating an attack. They may be attacking to get information to sell at a profit. Cybercriminals may also want the publicity that comes from large hacks — groups like Anonymous often have political reasons for their hacks, for example. Hackers may also want to strike back at the company for revenge.
When trying to prevent hacking, the first hurdle is to try and spot warning signs of a hack as soon as it happens. Don’t know what to look for? Here are five warning signs you may have a network that has been compromised by a hack.
Are You Getting Ransomware Messages?
Ransomware messages may be the first sign of trouble for your company, because they not only appear on your front page of your site where everyone can see it, but they also restrict customers and employees access to the content on your site, as well as restricting or even hijacking your payments system. In all cases of ransomware message, the hackers will tell you they will leave you alone–for a price. However, be warned. Just because they say they will unblock your site for a fee does not mean that will actually happen if you pay.
Ransomware often infects a website when an employee opens an email from someone they don’t recognize, and the email directs them to a malware site. Employees may also unwittingly visit a webpage that contains malware as well. Because ransomware infects a network through one computer, if you are fast enough, you may be able to disconnect infected computers before the damage is network-wide. In addition, be sure that you have an off-site or separate backup system for all of your data. That way, if your company does suffer an attack, you can reboot if you need to.
My Computer Is Moving By Itself
While it may sound like your computer has suddenly learned levitation, in reality, if your cursor is moving around by itself, it may be a sign of a remote hack attempt within your desktop or laptop. You will need to immediately disconnect the computer from the network. Run a virus scan to see if the computer has been infected by a virus. Once you have disconnected and checked for viruses, be sure that you have signed out of any programs and set up new passwords for computer programs for the computer. Also, be sure that you have installed a program that monitors the network, just in case someone tries to get in again.
My Email is Getting Weird Messages
Some attempts at hacking via email are easier to spot than others. There are times however when the emails coming in are virtually identical to a company email, or an email from a trusted vendor and when an employee clicks on a link, they may cause more damage, because some viruses instantly forward emails to everyone on their contact list. Many worms and viruses are spread this way, and instead of one network, the virus can infect several networks.
As networks have evolved to detect threats, hackers have also evolved. Now, some platforms that allow office workers to communicate with each other, such as Dropbox and Sharepoint, can be infected as well.
The most effective strategy for this type of hack is employee training, because it is far easier to train employees not to click on suspicious emails from people they are not sure about, or to send that person a specific email or chat to determine if they were trying to send a message, or if they had been hacked.
In addition to employees, companies can also switch to two-factor authentication for sign-ons, which adds another layer of protection to the computer and the network.
Why Are My Files Encrypted?
Rather than hackers trying to shut down an entire computer system, one of the latest tricks hackers use is to have particular files encrypted (usually files that are frequently used) and demand ransom before those files can be accessed. Once a file is encrypted offsite, it is virtually impossible to get it cleaned up without paying the ransom.
In order to combat this type of hack, you need to make sure that you have an offsite server for data backup, or a separate server for daily backup. If you don’t have a server, you can always use a cloud system, as there are Google, Icloud, and other cloud-based versions of storage. In addition, be sure you are running the latest, most up to date malware detectors, because older versions do not have the software needed to detect these viruses. Educating employees about links and attachments in emails is also necessary to keep as much malware off computers as possible.
Why Is My Browser Redirecting?
Sometimes, hackers can hatch a virus to redirect a browser to a different homepage or moves to a weird website that is not part of normal business day, it may be because of a redirect virus. This type of virus can happen within a browser extension, or because of a bad piece of downloaded software within a bundle. In addition, there are times when an employee can click on a site they think is the actual site, because it resembles the site so closely, and malware is then downloaded onto the computer.
As with other forms of malware, the problem can be solved by removing the computer from the network first. Then, you can use redirect virus detection software to scan and remove this type of virus. These viruses can be prevented by making sure IT people are responsible for installing all software for company computers. Also, making sure all data is backed up means that the computer can be wiped clean and reinstalled.
Be sure that after you have followed the points suggested above, you also make sure that you use some network security intelligence tools. Network security intelligence tools make sure that your data doesn’t get compromised and can save your company’s reputation with your customers — as well as save you money in the long run.
Known for his boundless energy and enthusiasm. Evan works as a Freelance Cyber Security Analyst, an avid blog writer, particularly around technology, cybersecurity and forthcoming threats which can compromise sensitive data. With a vast experience of ethical hacking, Evan’s been able to express his views articulately.