Understanding Cyber Security Threats

The rise of new technologies has changed the way organizations operate, compete, and evolve. When deployed strategically, each of these emerging technologies can offer organizations a leg up in a fast-paced marketplace, greater insight into their operations, and more control over their business. However, the changing nature of our digital environment is also providing cybercriminals and bad actors with a larger attack surface—and more dangerous tools—than ever. The evolution of workplace technology has also increased the sophistication of cyberattacks.

Given this reality, it’s critical that managed services providers (MSPs) and their customers understand what cybersecurity issues and challenges they’re up against. As companies increasingly rely on connected technology, the stakes of data breaches are clearly growing.

What are the most important security issues facing companies today?

As companies become more reliant on their digital environment, their vulnerabilities to cyberthreats increase in turn. While this certainly doesn’t mean that organizations should forego critical IT investments to reduce their potential attack surface, it does mean that stakeholders need to stay aware of the specific cybersecurity issues that are most pressing to their companies.

Similarly, greater investment in the cloud means that an increasing number of companies are storing and processing proprietary data offsite. The expansion of cloud computing has enabled numerous benefits, including greater organizational flexibility and cost savings. However, relying on the cloud—whether public, private, or hybrid—requires careful cybersecurity protocol. While third-party providers may be responsible for the security of the cloud itself, customers are generally responsible for the security of the information they store and use in it.

What are the threats in cybersecurity?

With new platforms and capabilities opening companies up to new vulnerabilities, it’s critical that MSPs understand what tactics cybercriminals might use to take advantage of unprepared and unprotected organizations.

Across the board, cybersecurity threats that organizations have been familiar with in the past have become even more dangerous. Phishing—the process through which cybercriminals attempt to lure employees to click on links or download files to extract sensitive information—has evolved and matured. And while new technology like blockchain is specifically designed to be secure, users still have private keys that they use to conduct transactions at their specific blockchain node. Successful phishing operations could put these keys in the hands of bad actors and jeopardize the reliability of the network and the applications that rely on it.

Once cybercriminals have access to an organization’s network, the threats they pose are immeasurable. Bad actors may set up a cryptojacking operation in which they harness the resources of computers across a company to mine cryptocurrency, leading to significantly decreased performance. They may steal proprietary information—trade secrets that have the potential to jeopardize a company’s performance—and extort executives for ransom in return for not releasing it. They may even launch integrity attacks, effectively overwriting information in critical databases and allowing cybercriminals to commit fraudulent acts.

The full range of cybersecurity threats that companies face goes on, but the common link among them is that greater network connectivity across companies heightens the potential damage of cyberthreats. This means attacks that may have crippled one area of an organization in the past now have the potential to devastate the whole organization.

What are the challenges of cybersecurity?

The cybersecurity challenges that organizations face range from the internal to the external. On the one hand, companies need to safeguard proprietary information, protect employees, and earn the trust of those they do business with. This requires a shift in organizational culture that puts cybersecurity front and center and educates employees. On the other hand, organizations increasingly need to comply with government regulations as consumers become more concerned about their personal information. This poses new cybersecurity challenges for companies who will have to go to greater lengths to stay compliant with new regulations.

Internally, organizations need to recognize the importance of cybersecurity. Stakeholders need to be prepared to invest in the type of technology and expertise needed to secure their IT infrastructure and maintain that security around the clock. While cybersecurity may have previously taken a back seat to other business areas, companies now need to take a proactive role in monitoring their network and considering potential attack vectors.

Additionally, organizations need to confront the challenge of educating their employees in the reality of cybersecurity. From phishing attacks to ransomware, today’s workers need to be trained to spot nefarious activity, avoid engaging with it, and alert appropriate stakeholders as soon as possible. By educating employees on what threats the organization faces and what form they may come in, it’s more likely that massive breaches can be avoided and damage can be minimized.

How can MSPs support organizational cybersecurity?

Given the full range of threats your customers face today, it’s up to you as an MSP to secure their IT infrastructure and help protect their business. MSPs should consider how they can best deter cybercriminals, detect illicit activity, and defend customers’ networks.

The key here is having multiple layers of defense:

  • Patch management—Patching helps you ensure that all operating systems and third-party software is kept up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR)—EDR helps you identify potential threats at endpoint level and then respond effectively through automation.
  • Email protection—Since email is still the main vector cybercriminals use to get a foothold in an organization through phishing, being able to filter out potentially dangerous messages and attachments, can help reduce your attack surface.
  • Web protection—The use of malicious websites to get people to inadvertently download malware into their network is prevalent. Being able to stop staff from going onto known malicious sites by blocking access to them is and important layer of defense.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of partnering with ECMSI? Give us a call at (330) 750-1428 or visit www.ecmsi.com.