You didn’t prioritize network security, and now your network has been hacked. What did you expect to happen?
Businesses should do their utmost to defend their networks against threats, or inconceivably horrible things will surely happen to their devices, data, employees, customers and more. Here are a few of the worst things you can expect from a hacked network – and how you can protect yourself better in the future.
Few cybercriminals get into cybercrime for the fun of it. Most are looking for fast, relatively easy ways to make a buck, which means most hackers who reach your network are going to go straight for your transactions. Discussing or executing transactions insecurely – over email or through a faulty payment portal – is a sure-fire way to lose money to cybercrime.
Hijacked transactions can occur in a few different ways. For example, if your payment gateway isn’t thoroughly secure, hackers can delve into your portal and pull out customers’ payment information. Then, they can either use that information to make their own purchases or sell that information to other fraudsters for an easy profit. Alternatively, hackers have been known to impersonate clients or vendors and request transaction information.
To thwart this kind of attack, it is critical that you use trustworthy and secure methods of exchanging payment information. Rather than sending account and card numbers over email, you should invest in a secure payment gateway that has all the latest payment security features.
Your servers are the backbone to your network: They provide vital services, including data storage, communications and security. Thus, when your network is compromised, your operations will grind to a halt because your servers will likely be hijacked.
Hackers can work wonders with access to servers. Not only can they pilfer valuable data (more on that later) but they can use the power of your servers to attack other, larger, more secure businesses. Unfortunately, if any of your devices – particularly your servers – are used in the perpetration of another crime, they will likely be confiscated by law enforcement, even if you had nothing to do with the crime.
The best way to protect your servers is with strong network defense. Your network security should include software like enhanced firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention tools, integrated endpoint security and more. With a cohesive network security strategy, you should be able to keep your servers safe.
Payment information provides immediate access to money, but certain types of data are just as good as cash to hackers.
Businesses often keep files of sensitive information on employees and customers; this data might include names, addresses and phone numbers, birthdates, purchase history and payment information. As Big Data has shown, any information can be valuable, and this type of data is especially useful to fraudsters, who can use it to run scams on your employees or customers.
Generally, strong network security is useful in protecting against this type of attack. Additionally, you should set up tiers of account access within your organization, so only those workers who need to can access this sensitive data. A reduction in accessibility makes it more difficult for hackers to steal information.
Often, businesses hide sensitive information that would harm them or their customers if it were widely known. For example, you might not want the public to know which political campaigns you contribute to, or you might provide sensitive services that your clients prefer to keep confidential. Hackers often hone in on this information and profit from your need for secrecy.
On the one hand, your data could be leaked thanks to hacktivists – hackers who claim to perform cyber crime for the greater good. This is what happened to Ashley Madison in 2015 when lists of its active users were published on the web. On the other hand, your sensitive data might be ransomed; should you fail to pay the hackers’ desired price, your data could be published for the world to see. In both cases, hackers win, and you lose.
A strong security strategy is important to prevent this outcome, but more important is a response plan. Should you be threatened with the release of sensitive data, your business should know exactly who to call and how to behave. Then, you can mitigate the damage of the release of your data and return to normal operations ASAP.