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This post was written by David Jiménez

Here’s an eye-opening cyber attack stat…

39% of businesses in the UK suffered at least one cyber attack in 2021.

The percentage looks set to be the same or even higher in 2022, according to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

When you consider that the average cost of a cyber attack that leads to a data breach is more than $4 million, as revealed by a recent IBM report, then it’s clear that cyber security should be near the top of every business’s list of priorities.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some different types of cyber attack, the damage they can do, and how you can prevent them by boosting internet security and applying data protection strategies.

What is a cyber attack?

A cyber attack is an action that is targeted against a business or organisation to steal data or cause disruption. It involves breaching a computer network or software system by exploiting vulnerabilities.

The effectiveness and likelihood of a cyber attack, from the attackers point of view, depends on the skills of the adversary, with some cyber attacks carried out by lone actors, some by criminal gangs, and some by hacker collectives. Disruptive attacks, such as distributed-denial-of-service attacks, are often orchestrated by ‘hacktivist’ groups.

Cyber attackers use various methods to gain unauthorised access to computer systems, including:

  • Malware – Malware is a shortened version of malicious software, which usually uses automated techniques such as viruses, worms, ransomware, and spyware to gain access to a network. Malware embeds itself into a network by exploiting a vulnerable point, such as network users clicking an infected link or opening a risky email attachment, and automatically installs the dangerous software.
  • Phishing – Phishing attacks use convincing fraudulent messages or emails to gain access to login details, passwords, credit card information, or to provide a gateway to install some malware.
  • Denial-of-service attack – A DoS attack causes disruption by inundating a server, system, or network with large amounts of traffic. The large volume of traffic overwhelms the IT resources of the target organisation. Often, the organisation is forced to temporarily shut down their operations during a DoS attack, especially when attackers use multiple compromised computers and devices to carry out the attack (known as a distributed-denial-of-service attack or DDoS).
  • Man-in-the-middle attack – MitM attacks find a vulnerable entry point to eavesdrop in a two-party conversation or transaction. Once they have found a way in, they can steal data. MitM attacks usually exploit unsecure public Wi-Fi or by using a piece of malware installed on the device.

5 Ways to avoid a cyber attack and boost internet security

1. Keep your software up-to-date

The first piece of advice may sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many businesses run software that is out of date. Software companies often release new security patches to keep up with the ever-changing cybersecurity threats.

Therefore, you should make sure that all your software and systems are up-to-date, which includes mobile devices too. The easiest way is to turn on automatic updates, if available, but some on-premise software may need manually updating.

2. Train your employees in cybersecurity

Awareness is half the battle when it comes to preventing cyber attacks. Start with the basics – encourage people to think about internet security and to hesitate before they click on any links or open email attachments. Make sure that they know that they should never enter a password or verify personal information when contacted out of the blue by phone or email.

You can also provide cyber awareness training for your staff to reduce the chances of a breach even further and there are third party training providers that can help if you need it.

3. Apply multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Also known as two-step authentication, MFA is a cybersecurity technique that requires people to complete an extra step to prove their identity when logging in to a network or system. Most people are familiar with MFA by now, as many banks and websites use it when logging in from a new device.

The extra step acts as a double-check, usually requesting a unique code that is sent by text to your mobile phone or to confirm an extra item of information such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first school.

4. Use a strong password

Many people still use weak passwords, such as their child’s name or date of birth. It isn’t too difficult for hackers to find this kind of personal information through social media accounts these days, so you need to update your password.

When choosing a stronger password, aim for one that is longer than 15 characters, if possible, preferably with special characters such as !*&$, etc. Also, make sure that it is a unique password that you don’t use on any other site or system.

5. Choose a trusted CRM provider

Your CRM database contains a lot of useful, private and confidential data, so you need to secure your CRM against a cyber attack at all costs. This is especially true since the introduction of GDPR regulation which is focused on the protection of personal data.

Make sure you choose a CRM provider that ensures that all of the relevant security measures are in place. For instance, Efficy is a comprehensive CRM solution that has robust security measures built into it, such as access rights that can be managed at different levels and a document management system to protect sensitive material being downloaded or obtained.

Summary – preventing cyber attacks and data breaches

The most effective way to protect your data more effectively is to raise awareness of cyber attacks within your organisation. Knowledge is power, so make sure that your employees are fully clued up on the dangers of malware and phishing attacks.

You should also look for software solutions that take cyber security seriously and build defence mechanisms into their platforms. Efficy is a secure and powerful CRM that can meet all your business needs, including data security.

Get in touch with one of our expert advisors today to find out more.

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