Not All Hacks or Security Breaches are Created Equal
By Matt Brennan
In a day and age when security breaches are commonplace, and the threat of personal data that you’ve collected is in jeopardy of being made public, hacks are routinely reported on in the media. Not all of the hacks that we read about are created equal.
First, there are various types of hacks. While any successful effort to breach your data security is alarming, the after-effects are not always experienced in the same magnitude.
The Definition of Hacking
The term “hacking” has become commonplace, and is used across a variety of applications to mean different things. But as it’s related to data security, we’ll define it as gaining access to unauthorized information through a system network or computer. There are an increasing number of these hacks and security breaches being reported on an almost daily basis. Governments, retail outlets, schools, and other businesses and institutions remain at high risk as targets for these attacks.
Types of Security Breaches and their Severity
Phishing and Social Engineering Hacks – This is when the hacker attempts to trick you into sharing your personal information with them. Maybe they pose as a business, or someone offering a service, in an attempt to get you to share your personal financial information. It might be imitating someone you know, asking you to do something like wire money, or click on a link to download a piece of malware, for example.
Phishing and social engineering hacks can have a significant impact on the victim, especially if they give up key personal information such as a social security number, bank account, or if they physically wire large sums of money.
Malware Injecting Devices
Devices such as USB sticks can be used by hackers to inject malware onto a device. That malware can then be used to gain remote access, to your computer and any information on it, causing significant security breaches. That’s why it’s important to consider the source of any type of USB, keyboard, or computer mouse before you plug it into your computer.
Entrance Through Missing Security Patches – Websites, software, routers, and other hardware often require security updates. When those updates are not completed in a timely fashion, it can provide an opening for hackers to gain access to your computer or network. When users ignore the pop-ups for updates it can leave them vulnerable.
It’s important for employers to make sure that all devices, software, and applications are routinely patched and updated to ensure their safe usage. This means making sure that employees routinely make the updates needed to function. This simple step goes a long way in reducing the chances for security breaches.
Passwords – Many hackers gain access through cracking the right password. It may happen through a malware program that allows hackers to monitor your keystrokes. There are also software programs that can guess the right password by running several combinations of letters and numbers in a matter of seconds, giving the hacker access.
Distributed Denial of Service – These attacks focus on taking down a website, or other online assets. They typically involve overwhelming a site with more traffic or requests than the server can handle, and thereby shutting it down. There are security products and services that can help protect your online assets from this type of attack.
DDoS attacks can have a crippling effect on your business, preventing you from being able to conduct your business as usual.
Make Sure Your Team is Aware of Digital Threats
Hackers can gain access and cause significant damage to your company through any of the above means. While any of these attacks can result in financial loss or the loss of data, DDoS attacks can shut down your whole business, and be difficult to recover from. The level of damage and the impact of the security breaches depends on the type of hack, and the impact that it can have. It’s crucial to educate your employees about the importance of data security, and preventing these hacks.
This means teaching them to evaluate the source of an email before they enter personal information, and making sure they complete the updates that need to be completed. Employees can be required to set passwords that include upper case letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Making them more security savvy can help protect them and your business in the long run.