MSSP Guide to Ransomware, Malware, and Cyberthreats

Photo credit: Pexels

Concerns about cybersecurity have been growing in recent years. Attacks have been increasing and becoming more sophisticated. These attacks are incredibly costly for targeted companies. In order to develop a comprehensive security strategy, it’s essential to understand some of the most common types of attacks and threats.

Cyberthreats come in three different forms:

  • Cybercrime, where an individual or group of people target others for financial gain.
  • Cyberattacks, where a group of people target an individual or company for the purpose of obtaining information.
  • Cyberterrorism, which is generally aimed at creating massive destruction.

Most business owners need to focus on the first two cyber threats – cybercrime and cyberattacks – as they are more common. Some frequent-encountered strategies include the following types of cyberthreats.

Ransomware: Ransomware attacks are the most common method of security breaches. One occurs nearly every ten seconds in the United States. It is a type of malware that targets organizations to lock down files and data. The data is then held for ransom, with the perpetrator often threatening to delete it if the ransom is not paid. Organizations that collect sensitive data are especially vulnerable to these attacks, which is why they are commonly seen at healthcare facilities, financial institutions, and governmental agencies. And while these types of organizations are commonly targeted, ransomware attacks are a threat to all businesses that collect customer and client information.

Ransomware commonly infiltrates an organization using a phishing email with a malicious attachment, a link that takes the user to malicious content, or a video that contains malware. Once any user in the organization clicks on the malicious content, the software encrypts files and demands payment to decrypt the data.

Malware: While ransomware is a common type of malware, it is not the only one. Malware is an abbreviated term for ‘malicious software.’ In many instances, it can infect the system or network and self-replicate. Malware attacks can take many forms, including the following:

  • Viruses: These self-replicating programs infect files with malicious code.
  • Trojans: Trojan attacks use malware disguised as legitimate software. Once the software is installed somewhere on the network, it can take control of systems and cause damage to databases. It can also collect personal information.
  • Spyware: Spyware programs collect information about you and your digital activities. It can be used to record passwords and collect financial account numbers.
  • Adware: Adware presents as a continuous unwanted ad on a computer. While this may not seem like a genuine threat, the adware monitors the user’s behavior to deliver customized advertising.
  • Spam: Spam email is sent out in massive quantities to solicit money from the small number of recipients who might respond to the message. Spam emails may be used as a vehicle to transport malware, as well.
  • Worms: These types of attacks replicate themselves without the use of a bunch file.

While some types of malware can be far more damaging than others, it’s essential to be vigilant against all types of malware threats. Even a spam email that might appear to do no harm can be hiding a dangerous threat.

Cyberthreats: In addition to ransomware and malware, there are a number of other threats that can be used to launch a cyberattack successfully. Common cyberthreats include:

  • Phishing Attacks: Phishing attacks use email or text messaging to convince users to disclose or provide sensitive information or access to data. These attacks generally employ social engineering strategies to make the messages appear legitimate and trustworthy. Phishing attacks commonly request passwords, account numbers, financial records, or other sensitive data.
  • Man in the Middle Attacks: Man in the middle attacks occur when a hacker can gain access to privileged communication by intercepting it as two or more parties converse. There has been a dramatic increase in these types of attacks throughout the pandemic as individuals began using videoconferencing more frequently. Video platforms have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to access the conversation. But video is not the only platform for man in the middle attacks. Emails can be hijacked, as well.
  • Denial of Service: Denial of service attacks stop computing systems from running by interrupting the networks and servers with excessive traffic. This traffic prevents the website from delivering essential business functions by overloading resources until the system cannot reply to valid requests. Distributed denial of service attacks can be created with an army of botnets.
  • Cross-Site Scripting: These attacks insert malicious code into a website that then targets visitors’ browsers. The goal of these attacks is generally to gain access to prohibited applications. This is one type of attack that can be avoided by only trusting legitimate sites.

In addition to the listed cyberthreats, there are others, such as SQL Injections and zero-day exploits. The end goal of all of these threats is to exploit vulnerabilities in the systems to gain access or information. But in addition to understanding some of the most common threats, business leaders must also understand that the strategies employed by hackers and constantly evolving and changing. Unfortunately, this means that even if you do feel prepared for many types of cyberthreats, there is always a chance that an emerging and unknown threat will reach your company.

MSSPs & Cybersecurity

Managed security service providers, or MSSPs, are playing a growing role in addressing cybersecurity for businesses of all sizes. They can enhance and maintain the security of all connected devices on a network, no matter where they are located. Many types of businesses can benefit from outsourced managed security expertise.

Since MSSPs specialize in security, they have in-depth knowledge about all types of current, past, and emerging threats. This function ensures that you are able to protect your data, which ensures that you protect your brand and reputation. It also ensures you won’t have to pay a data ransom or costly mitigation strategies after an attack has been sustained. Moreover, MSSPs offer their customers a peace of mind knowing that they have a security partner who can help with comprehensive security planning, implementation, and education. This role is vital in preventing and defending from all types of cyberthreats.

Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning, and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.