Smart business owners know they should be prepared for cyberattacks if they want to avoid thousands of dollars in business losses and reputational damages. But not all hackers are after the same goal, and the type of attack they launch can reveal a lot about their motives.
For example, a ‘spray and pray’ attacker is completely different than a ‘targeted’ attacker. The former typically sends out thousands of vague phishing emails or spoofed malware downloads to snare personal and professional device alike while the latter has likely targeted your business for a specific reason. Which do you think is more dangerous to your business? The ‘targeted’ attacker, of course.
Below are a few common cyberattacks, what they reveal about your hacker and how to protect yourself.
Hacktivists & Cyber Vandals
Cyber activists, also known as hacktivists, are politically driven hackers whose activities range from the permissible to the illegal. And since hacktivists are philosophically motivated, their attacks are almost always public facing, which can draw a lot of negative attention to your brand.
Some of the more popular tools in the hacktivist arsenal are distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and social media attacks. The former makes use of malware-infected computers to flood a site with bogus web requests until the service is rendered inoperable, thereby obstructing legitimate traffic from reaching your site. Depending on the number of hours the DDoS runs, your business could face significant losses.
Social media attacks, on the other hand, infiltrate a brand’s social accounts to degrade their public reputation. Let’s say a hacker collective can crack your password using a brute force attack and then decides to post several perverse comments online. In a few short minutes, you could have a full-blown PR scandal on your hands!
State-sponsored or government-backed hackers has become something of a household term since the 2016 presidential election. While the investigation is still ongoing, the intelligence community has determined that Russian cybercriminals leaked emails stolen from John Podesta via a spearphishing scam to influence public opinion.
But that’s not all state-sponsored hackers can do. Recently Google sent warnings to U.S. journalists targeted by government-backed hackers, and in the early 2010s President Barack Obama issued a warning to China after cyberespionage was directed at U.S. tech and pharmaceutical companies.
Cybersecurity experts say that defending against state-sponsored assault is near impossible since the attackers have extensive resources. Cyber crooks want money, but if your network is too difficult to penetrate, they will settle for an easier target; whereas government-backed hackers have a mission to complete and will typically aim for the most damage possible (possibly in the form of massive data breach) or at the highest levels of authority, such as a CEO.
But while resistance is futile, business could do well to minimize the damage inflicted by improving detection. Similarly, cyber security solutions relating to data breach coverage or cyber policy insurance can mitigate financial damages.
Unlike the previous two categories of hacker who were motivated by ideology, the black-hat cybercriminal is only interested in monetary gain. If they breach your data, they will likely flip it on the digital black market, also known as the dark web. If they expose your customer information (including email addresses, sign-in credentials or financial information) you could be looking at a class-action lawsuit, or even bankruptcy!
Attacks black-hat hackers love to exploit include:
- Brute force attacks to crack passwords,
- Redirect links to steal sign-in information,
- And ransomware attacks to lock systems internally until a ransom is paid.
If you want to keep your business safe from attacks like these stay educated about cybersecurity. Remember to use unique and robust password protection on all your accounts. Install a network firewall to stymie prying eyes. And finally, avoid suspicious emails, links, downloads, attachments or communications.
Do the right thing and improve your cybersecurity today!