In the ever-evolving landscape of cyberthreats, understanding common attack methods used by threat actors is crucial to fortifying defenses. In this blog, we provide clarity on their methods and malicious purposes, as well as where these common tactics fall in the stages of an attack. With this knowledge, you can guide your customers on how to properly safeguard against these constant dangers.
Business Email Compromise
What it is: Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a sophisticated scam where cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to a legitimate business email account, typically through phishing or credential theft. They then use this access to impersonate employees or executives and carry out fraudulent activities.
How it works: Once attackers compromise an email account, they may send convincing emails to colleagues, partners, or financial personnel, requesting wire transfers, sensitive data, or other actions. The recipient, believing the request is legitimate, complies.
Prevention Tips: Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for email accounts to add an extra layer of security. Train employees to recognize BEC tactics and verify any unusual financial requests through a separate communication channel. Regularly monitor email account activity for suspicious logins.
Compromised Credentials or Weak Password Attacks
What it is: In this threat, attackers exploit weak passwords or obtain login credentials from data breaches to gain unauthorized access to user accounts, network systems, or online services.
How it works: Attackers use methods like password cracking, dictionary attacks (common passwords), or credential stuffing (using known usernames and passwords) to gain access to accounts. They may also purchase stolen credentials on the dark web.
Prevention Tips: Encourage the use of strong, unique passwords for each account. Implement multifactor authentication (MFA) whenever possible to provide an additional layer of security. Regularly update passwords and educate users about password hygiene practices.
External-Facing Remote Services
What it is: Cybercriminals target external-facing services like Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections to gain access to networks or systems.
How it works: Attackers search for vulnerabilities in RDP, VPN, or other external services, or use brute force attacks to guess login credentials. Once they gain access, they can move further within the network and compromise sensitive data.
Prevention Tips: Keep RDP and VPN software up to date with the latest security patches. Configure access controls and firewall rules carefully to restrict access to authorized users and IP addresses. Enforce strong authentication methods for remote access.
What it is: Phishing is a deceptive tactic where cybercriminals send fraudulent emails or messages that appear legitimate, often mimicking trusted organizations or individuals. These messages aim to trick recipients into disclosing sensitive information like login credentials, credit card numbers, or personal data.
How it works: Phishing emails contain links to fake websites designed to capture login information, or malicious attachments that install malware on the victim’s device. Attackers often employ social engineering techniques to create a sense of trust or urgency.
Prevention Tips: Be cautious when receiving unsolicited emails, especially those requesting sensitive information. Verify the sender’s email address and check for signs of phishing (e.g., misspelled URLs, generic greetings). Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading email attachments from unknown sources. Use email filtering tools and security software to detect and block phishing attempts.
Malware and Ransomware
What it is: Malware, short for “malicious software,” refers to any software designed to harm or gain unauthorized access to devices or systems. This includes viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, ransomware, and more. Ransomware, specifically, encrypts a victim’s data and demands a ransom payment for decryption. Malware and/or ransomware are the part of an attack typically referred to as the payload, which allows further malicious actions to take place.
How it works: Malware operates by exploiting vulnerabilities or using deceptive tactics to infiltrate computer systems. It can enter your device or network through various vectors, such as infected files, email attachments, malicious links, or compromised websites. Once inside, malware can steal sensitive information, disrupt system operations, or provide attackers with unauthorized access to your device or network. Ransomware operates in a similar manner, but typically steals information and encrypts all the data to be held for ransom.
Prevention Tips: Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software and keep all software and operating systems up to date. Be cautious when downloading files or clicking on links from unknown sources. Regularly back up critical data and systems to recover from ransomware attacks without paying the ransom.
In an interconnected world, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. The threats we’ve explored, from business email compromise to ransomware, are relentless and always evolving. But with knowledge comes power. By staying informed and adopting proactive security measures, we can shield ourselves and our organizations from falling victim to these malicious tactics. Remember to continuously update your defenses, educate your teams, and foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness. Vigilance is our best defense in the digital age. Together, we can navigate the complex landscape of cyberthreats and emerge stronger, safeguarding our digital lives and securing our valuable data.