February 1, 2015
Small Business Security – Suddenly Under Attack
Cyber-attacks are happening with increasing frequency on businesses all over the world, big and small. Obviously, we all hear about the big ones – Home Depot and their credit cards, Adobe and their lost source code, Target, too, with their consumers’ personal financial information getting into the hands of dangerous hackers. But the real concern is small business security.
This is all happening behind the curtain, hidden away in basements all over the world, individuals working on their own, or even collectively, but rarely together, and never in public.
New Generation of Advanced Threats
To explain how these attacks are happening, don’t imagine a group of hackers wearing all black, hidden in the shadows as they launch an impressive assault on an unsuspecting super corporation. Instead, consider a slow drip of water that then forms a crack into your system, working its way through your infrastructure slowly until it has reached your critical business data.
They’re called APTs – Advanced Persistent Threats. These are multi-step attacks that take a fair amount of time to implement, made up of multiple standard hacking components that are executed one at a time that eventually build into full hacker’s access.
Broken down into steps, it might look something like this: Step one – the hackers conduct research on a company, pinpointing areas of entry, individuals within the company to specifically target, and what kind of information to which they can gain access. Step two – begin to gain access. Use phishing emails to break into a system, use those same phishing emails to release malware, etc. Step three – slowly break into the company’s database to retrieve the data they want. Step four – remove the desired data one piece at a time, encrypt it, and then remove all traces that a breach occurred.
More often than not, these attacks are so subtle, they aren’t even detected by the company itself, and instead through a third party (like the FBI) that notices the wrongful use of information.
The Changing Face of Small Business Security Threats
But how does all this impact small and medium businesses? After all, small and medium businesses don’t have as much to offer a hacker. The prize is smaller, and therefore is protected simply by not being worth the effort.
Not anymore. What’s changing, and even more alarming than the idea of a group of elite hackers taking down big business, is how the hacking culture has evolved into its own commercial industry. The advanced techniques of the most successful hackers are now being formulated, packaged, and sold over the internet – like any old software you might find on Amazon – for an affordably low price. This affordable access to cyber attack tools now threatens small business security.
With that ne