Computer hacker and cyber crime

How to stay ahead of cyber criminals

It’s no secret that cyber attacks are becoming more increasingly sophisticated, stealthy, and, as a result, commonplace. We have seen high profile security breaches at Target, JP Morgan, Home Depot, and the US Government. Attackers can infiltrate practically any “secure” environment and maneuver undetected for months at a time while they scope out the best practice (for them) for a cyber attack. So the question for us is – how do we stay ahead of cyber criminals?

This is ultimately a cat and mouse game and it’s clear that the cyber criminals play the cat in this game. As cyber attackers become increasingly aware of cyber security measures, both large and small organizations must be on the defense and continuously learn about potential warning signs. Here are a few helpful tips to help you stay ahead of cyber attacks and reduce the risk of data breaches.

Constant Change

There’s one thing that cyber criminals and the rest of us have in common – none of us like change. We want to keep systems and processes static because it makes life and work easier. Attackers love static systems and processes because it makes it easier for them to study their subjects, learn the ins and outs, and figure out exactly how they can compromise your data. If you want to make it difficult for sophisticated cyber attackers, create a culture that thrives on change.

Monitor for Usage of Irrelevant Information

Cyber criminals do their homework before launching an attack. Sometimes their data is misinformed or incomplete. You should monitor for activity that doesn’t make sense for your organization.

A typical example of an irrelevant information scenario is the “former employee” situation. In this case, an attacker targets a specific user from your list of employees, not knowing that the person no longer works for your organization. Because the employee no longer works for you, that employee should not be taking actions within the company’s network and the network shouldn’t be contacting them. Spotting this suspicious activity can help you prevent data breaches.

Avoid Alarm Fatigue

Security appliances are more sensitive than ever to better detect potential threats, but the sharp increase in alerts leaves security teams running ragged.

It is impossible to launch a full-scale investigation every time your security appliances send a notification. Instead, you must monitor your organization for signs of alarm fatigue and resolve them as soon as possible. If you stop monitoring for serious notifications, you are sure to miss the real issues as they come up.

Invest in Cyber Security Education

Did you know that human error is the leading cause of data loss? Cyber security training and education teaches employees the importance of changing passwords and monitoring for suspicious activity to cut down on the amount of human errors.

One major part of training employees for better cyber security is preparing them for phishing schemes. In Phishing attacks, cyber criminals often send out seemingly legitimate emails, mimicking companies like PayPal or eBay in an attempt to lure readers to click on a fake link. While the link seems real and the landing page is set up with real logos, the site is built to filter sensitive data to cyber criminals. The email might mention an issue with the user’s account and lead them to a site that requests PIN numbers, credit card data and more. These can be tough to spot, but there are warnings to look out for.

All of the security solutions in the world can’t protect your network if your workforce is willingly (but unknowingly) giving cyber criminals access to it. Creating a truly secure workforce requires ongoing education and training.