Seemingly every time you read or listen to the news, there is a new report about a Calgary or Canadian business that has been impacted by a cybersecurity threat. Cybersecurity threats are indeed on the rise, with the number of security vulnerabilities increasing by 589%. Threat actors are becoming more insidious and the attacks themselves far more sophisticated. It’s becoming more difficult to detect threats and harder to stop them once they’ve begun. No company, regardless of size or industry, is immune from these threats – and it’s virtually impossible to protect your Calgary business without help.
What Are the Most Common Cybersecurity Threats Putting Calgary Businesses at Risk?
With an ever-expanding threat landscape, it’s important to understand which threats are most prevalent and how to address them. These threats are the most common:
Phishing attacks are the biggest threat facing Calgary businesses. These attacks have become more sophisticated, with attackers being patient enough to gather the information necessary to successfully masquerade as a legitimate business contact. This has led to a rise in business email compromise (BEC), where phishing campaigns are designed to steal business email account information from executives, then use those accounts to fraudulently request payments or secure data.
Phishing can be difficult to detect, often reaching through layers of security to arrive in the inbox of an unsuspecting employee. It is for this reason that measures such as employee awareness training, multifactor authentication (MFA), and strict policies about divulging information or making payments based on email requests must be implemented.
Read our guide on social engineering and phishing here.
Malware attacks are nearly as devastating to Calgary businesses as are phishing attacks, and malware often gains network access by means of a phishing email in which an employee downloads a file that launches the attack.
According to Sophos:
[T]he cybercriminal economy has increasingly transformed into an industry. Information technology companies have shifted to ‘as-a-service’ offerings, and the cybercrime ecosystem has done the same. Access brokers, ransomware, information-stealing malware, malware delivery, and other elements of cybercrime operations have lowered barriers to entry for would-be cybercriminals.
Malware attacks can be especially risky for smaller businesses, where employees are more likely allowed to use their own devices. Any employee device that connects to your business network should only be authorized for use in accordance with the employee’s ability to meet specific and targeted security requirements.
Calgary businesses are being threatened with several types of malware. Ensure that your employees are aware of the risks and that you partner with a managed IT firm that can help you prevent malware from infecting your network.
Types of Malware Affecting Canadian Businesses Include:
Trojan horses are a form of malware that trick users into downloading and installing malicious software by pretending to be a legitimate program or file.
Adware and Spyware
Adware is an insidious form of malware that displays ads on the user’s computer. These ads can not only slow down performance but also give cyber criminals access to sensitive data. Spyware secretly collects information about the user without their consent.
A botnet is a network of infected computers that are controlled remotely by hackers who can launch coordinated attacks on businesses to steal private data. Many layers of security, from antivirus software and firewalls to aggressive patch management and threat detection protocols, must be employed to defend against this form of malware.
Ransomware attacks can cripple your Calgary business. And as these threats become more common and more difficult to detect, many companies are choosing to pay the ransom rather than negotiate. Not only can this result in a loss of money without any real resolution, the more businesses pay, the more incentivized cyber criminals are to attack.
According to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security:
[R]ansomware is almost certainly the most disruptive form of cybercrime facing Canadians. […] Aside from the financial cost of the ransom itself, ransomware can stop the operation of important systems, damage or destroy an organization’s data, and reveal sensitive information. This is in addition to imposing costs and time to recover from an attack. The disruption caused by a ransomware attack can prevent access to essential services and, in some cases, threaten Canadians’ physical safety.
The only way to avoid having to pay a ransom is to have comprehensive offsite backup and recovery that is isolated from your network, out of the reach of cyber criminals. When you know you have a safe and secure backup for your data that is stored outside of your network, it’s easier to say ‘no’ to paying a ransom should threat actors gain access to your IT infrastructure.
Poor Password Management
Even with everything we know about securing accounts, the top 10 passwords of 2023 are:
That these simple sequences remain in regular use is shocking. Poor password management is one of biggest threats to Calgary businesses – one that causes the first three threats listed above. From using easy-to-guess passwords to reusing the same password across multiple accounts, poor password management leaves individuals and organizations at risk. And the easiest fix for it all – employing MFA – is something that only 26% of businesses have been willing to do, even though the practice can prevent up to 99% of all phishing attempts.
Multifactor authentication and password management solutions create extra layers of protection that prevent cybercriminals from getting to your data.
Insider threats account for a fourth of all data breaches, according to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR). Employees, former employees, and third-party actors with access to your Calgary-business network are a serious threat. Not only do they often have access to your most sensitive data, but their actions can go undetected for a long period of time. These actions can sometimes be malicious, but they can also happen because of carelessness.
According to the Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity, some causes of inadvertent insider threats include:
- Misplacing a mobile device or removable media
- Granting other employees access to sensitive information that they are not authorized to access
- Mishandling sensitive information by leaving it out in the open or forgetting to apply the appropriate permissions
Malicious insider threats, wherein someone knowingly uses your infrastructure or information to cause harm by gaining unauthorized access or by abusing privileged accounts or general accounts, include:
- Looking for revenge (e.g. no job advancement, being laid off [former employee threat, depending on organization’s exit plan])
- Being threatened or blackmailed
- Hoping for some form of personal or financial gain
In order to prevent insider threats, it’s imperative that network access is limited to only that which is necessary for each employee to do their job. Furthermore, access must be rescinded when it’s no longer needed, and strict policies regarding the use and sharing of information must be established.
As Technology Continues to Evolve, So Do Threats to Cybersecurity
Calgary businesses and individuals alike are facing an increasing risk of cyberattacks. To protect your business from these threats, it’s important to take proactive measures to safeguard your data and assets. Here are five essential tips to help you stay secure.
- Employee Awareness
Your employees are your first line of defense against cybersecurity threats. Making sure they understand how to protect your data – and theirs – requires ongoing training.
- Strong Passwords, Password Management, and MFA
These essential practices can thwart many attacks. But these are also often necessary to meet compliance requirements.
- Software Patching and Updates
If threat actors are not infiltrating your network through email, they’re taking advantage of the vulnerabilities in your system. Those vulnerabilities are often in the form of outdated software and licenses or unpatched software with known security flaws.
- Offsite Backup and Recovery
The only way to prevent damage to your business, your reputation, and your customers is to have the right back up and disaster recovery solution in place. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) helps to protect your Calgary business from harm.
- Zero Trust
The idea behind zero trust is just what it says: Don’t trust anything or anyone with access to your network without first ensuring that such access is unquestionably necessary. Add as many layers of verification as needed to prevent unauthorized access and to prevent malicious software from being introduced. Err on the side of caution and inconvenience.
Taking action to protect your data from the growing cyber threats impacting Calgary organizations is something that must happen sooner than later. The cost of inaction is too high to calculate. To learn how The ITeam can help, get in touch today.