Posted On: October 26, 2015

Business Vulnerability and the Need for the Best Possible IT Security

Security holes can be deadly.

Identifying and correcting security holes in IT infrastructure is critical. Even then most businesses fail to understand the importance of proactive vulnerability assessment. What’s more shocking is that some businesses avoid proper IT system checks and audits until disaster strikes, and they are forced to take desperate action.

As an example, as recently reported, a botnet, called Gameover ZeuS, has infected over one million Microsoft Windows systems. The malware steals online banking credentials by saving victims’ keystrokes and sending these back to a command server to be exploited. To add insult to injury, this malware is also a vector for the insidious CryptoLocker ransomware, which encrypts certain files stored on a hard drive.  The malware displays a message that offers to decrypt the data for a payment by a stated deadline. If the deadline passes and the ransom is not met, the decryption key is deleted and your data stays encrypted forever. In the last 3 years, over $150 million in damages have been recorded through the use of these two infections alone.

IT Threats Plague ALL Companies, Regardless of Size

Data leakages, security threats and privacy breaches can hit any organization and cost a business thousands of dollars. In some cases loopholes in IT security may even lead to liability claims and lawsuits.

It is not just large businesses that need to worry about IT vulnerabilities. Any organization can become a target of malicious internet content or a physical attack on IT systems. So, it is important that you move beyond the “it can never happen to me thoughts” and look at the ‘hard’ reality.

A Firewall is Not Enough

Despite all the attention firewalls receive, they can only screen low level attacks. Most sophisticated cyber attacks can easily trick firewalls and penetrate your IT network to cause significant damage.

Simply put, firewalls are not designed to protect your system from high-level, malicious cyber attacks. Furthermore, firewalls do not protect your IT network from external and internal damages caused by loss of devices or improper system configurations.

IT Security Threats You Need to Know

The questions for companies everywhere is: what will the next big security threat be? Random attacks for example: Code Red worm infected over 250,000 random web servers during its first 9 hours and resulted in damages over $2.6 billion.

Targeted attacks often occur as a result of weaknesses and IT loopholes being exploited. Angry employees, disgruntled vendors, and unhappy contractors can take advantage of the flaws in your IT system.

The Insider Threat!

Whether it’s anger or negligence, employees can compromise your IT security. People working at your company don’t necessarily have to be evil to put your company’s security at risk. Sometimes, they just don’t understand the risks and threats associated with their actions.

Primarily, the misuse of valuable intellectual property – particularly financial information and customer details— is a serious and ongoing threat for organizations. What’s more threatening is that these breaches are difficult to identify because they occur under the cover of ‘routine duties’.

Many employees now bring their own laptops, USB and other mobile devices to the workplace. While this has a number of advantages, it can lead to security issues particularly if your company is not equipped with a vulnerability assessment system. USBs, DVDs and even smartphones can be used to steal data or introduce malware on the network.

Sometimes, sensitive information can be leaked if employees take large amounts of information home – the employee understands the sensitive nature of the information, but the rest of the family probably does not.

Advanced Persistent Threats

Advanced persistent threats or network attacks are one of the most common types of data breaches. Most hackers send infected emails, links to multiple employees disguised as official communication and once clicked; it’s easy for APTs to spread like wildfire. The attacker in this case is interested in stealing confidential information rather than causing damage to the company.

Another threat you need to watch out for is the use of malware, phishing techniques and more importantly, plain guessing of user information. Hackers use malware such as intrusive worms, Trojans, spyware and other malicious programs to steal confidential information. Your machine can be attacked when you download files from a malicious website or click infected email links. What’s shocking is that most users are unaware of malware presence.

Phishing techniques have also become very common where hackers send out legitimate looking emails with infected links. The intended recipients are directed to a fake website where they are asked to update personal information and other confidential details such as social security number, bank account details and passwords.

Sometimes hackers manage to steal confidential user information thanks to plain guesswork. The use of strong passwords is therefore essential in order to protect your valuable data.

Physical Loss and Theft

No matter how many sophisticated security checks you put into place, the theft and loss of physical devices – servers, laptops, mobile devices, USBs—remain a real risk for businesses. You will be surprised to know that corporate devices are stolen more often within the office premises than in personal cars or residences, and employee carelessness is not always to blame. While you should encourage employees to keep track of their corporate belongings, it is also recommended that you put a robust plan in place to control data loss and theft.

Proactive IT Assessment is Crucial

The truth is that all small, medium and large businesses like to have a secure IT infrastructure, but often this requirement comes into conflict with other priorities. It’s easy to put IT security into a checklist item when revenue generation and business growth look dire, but this isn’t going to help you in any way. What you need to remember is that the likelihood of threats affecting your business increases exponentially when IT security assessment is pushed back on your ‘to-do’ list.

Companies that Implement Vulnerability Assessment Experience Fewer Attacks.

IT security in both small and medium-sized businesses is more than simply blocking spam and responsible use of the internet. That’s right. You have to do more than tracking malware and viruses to control external and internal weaknesses in IT systems. Remember, the volume of an IT security threat that can hit your company is enormous and you cannot leave your IT infrastructure at the mercy of basic security software.

Syntax Security Assessment team is here to help you identify external and internal threats to your IT security. Not only the assessment team will make you aware of the threats, but also the impact these threats can have on your IT infrastructure. Having a Syntax Security System and Vulnerability Assessment can put you in a position to respond rapidly and efficiently and stay ahead of the security attack. You can learn more here.