At its core, cybercrime is defined as a crime that involves a computer and a network. Cybercrimes include hacking, digital financial crimes, and the compromising, leaking, and damage of sensitive electronic personal information. Companies get cyber-attacked for a multitude of reasons, but the most common (almost 74% of all cyber attacks) is due to cybercrime.
Other reasons for a cyber-attack include hacktivism, cyber espionage, and cyber warfare. Businesses that are cyber-attacked often face irreparable damage. Their reputations become tarnished, their customer bases dwindle, and they can suffer financial losses so severe, that they end up folding.
With so much at stake, it is imperative that businesses know how to protect themselves from cyber-attacks. Here are a few steps businesses can take to protect against cyber-attacks and cyber-crime.
Utilizing a Firewall
Most of us are familiar with the software versions of firewalls. Newer incarnations of the Windows Operating System (XP, 7, 8, and 10) all feature the Windows Firewall, which provides packet filtering and monitoring and the control of incoming and outgoing network traffic. In addition to having software firewalls, businesses can also have hardware firewalls protecting their network switches, servers, and overall IT infrastructure. Hardware firewalls protect every component attached to a network, and are often easier to maintain than individual software firewalls. A combination of hardware and software firewalls will help to monitor unwanted web traffic, and can keep unauthorized parties from accessing network resources.
Antivirus Software for Workstations and Servers
Viruses are often the gateway into a system for cybercriminals. Viruses can act as key loggers that record everything a person types (including sensitive password information), system hijackers that take over control of servers and workstations, and even ransom ware that lock users out of a system and demand money in return. Powerful antivirus software is ideal for helping to protect your business, but here are some things you need to keep in mind.
- Workstations – All workstations need an antivirus solution installed. Yet, having antivirus installed is only half of the job. The other half is continuously updating the software to make sure it always has the most up to date virus definitions. IT departments should configure antivirus programs on workstations to automatically update, as users often forget to do so if it is a manual function.
- Servers – Servers are the backbone of an in-house IT environment. They also serve as a major connection point to workstations, mobile devices, and other components. If a cyber attacker manages to worm his way onto a server, he or she can have access to a variety of sensitive information. This is why having anti-virus installed on your servers is so important. There are many different options out their designed to protect servers running the Windows Server Operating System as well as other server operating systems such as Linux.
Protecting Your Cloud
Cloud providers are now starting to offer their own firewalls to protect assets stored in the cloud. For example, Amazon Web Services offers a web application firewall known as AWS WAF – which works to protect any web application built on the AWS platform. This is done by shielding web applications from common web exploits as well as from traffic established by specific rules in the firewall dashboard. Data stored in the cloud may not be onsite, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be as protected as information stored in an on-premise IT infrastructure.