By definition, cyber security refers to all measures required to protect the digital layers of a company. This includes computers, mobile devices, servers, other electronic systems and important data. Cyber security is implemented to stop attacks that are intent on damaging these essential systems.
An inadequately implemented security strategy can lead to data theft, blackmail, high costs and severe reputational damage and significantly reduce the company’s success.
According to a recent Bitkom study, the German economy suffers losses of up to 203 billion euros annually. Cybersecurity companies also estimate that the damage worldwide will increase to more than 10.5 trillion US dollars annually by 2025.
By comparison, in 2015, the annual damage caused by cyber attacks was still 3 trillion US dollars – a whopping 350% increase within 10 years.
Cybersecurity should not be understood as a simple wall that attackers must climb over, but rather as a multi-layered defense mechanism that interlocks and acts on multiple levels simultaneously. Countermeasures deployed should therefore protect the following aspects:
Networks: corporate networks including wired and wireless (WLAN/WiFi) connections.
Infrastructures: hardware such as servers, data centers, hubs, switches or routers.
Applications: Applications that are either on the company’s own server or in the cloud and must be available around the clock.
Cloud: The cloud itself, which not only provides applications, but also stores a large amount of sensitive data.
A clear security strategy at all these levels is a must for enterprises. A security leak at one of these levels can automatically affect the compromise of security at other levels. Only a well-thought-out cybersecurity strategy that works in practice provides all-round protection.
Criminals can resort to a variety of attack types to put their shady schemes into action. You can protect yourself against almost all threats if your cyber security is of a high standard and everyone involved knows exactly what to do. Below are some of the best-known and most popular examples of attacks that companies should protect themselves against at all costs:
Malware: Malware is short for “malicious software” and can therefore equally be titled as a malicious program. Malware is introduced into systems as unnoticed as possible in order to perform unwanted and harmful functions on the infected computer system.
Ransomware: Ransomware is a particularly dangerous type of malware that has recently become increasingly popular. Criminals often infiltrate ransomware into systems undetected in order to lock out the owners there and demand a ransom for decryption. Ransomware is often combined with a DDoS attack to distract from the introduction of the malware.
DDoS: Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks aim to overload online services, web servers or entire systems. Normally, several systems are bundled into a botnet for an attack to bring targets to their knees on a large scale and intensively with a high number of requests within a very short time.
Phishing: Phishing refers to the sending of fake e-mails in order to lure affected people into a scam. It becomes dangerous when the target unwittingly passes on important information such as payment details, access data or other sensitive data to the criminals.
SQL injection: In SQL injection, attackers exploit a security vulnerability by gaining access to part of the SQL code. They use this to deliberately manipulate databases. This manipulation opens access to valuable customer or company data for theft.
Man-in-the-middle: In a man-in-the-middle attack, the attacker tries to insert himself unseen between the communications of two parties in order to be able to read and manipulate important data. He poses as the recipient to the sender and as the sender to the recipient.
Social engineering: In the case of social engineering, criminals use intrinsic human characteristics such as trust, respect, fear or helpfulness against us. All with the aim that the victim reveals important information from himself, instructs money transfers or clicks on a contaminated link that installs malware on the system.
It is important to know, understand and be able to classify the existing threats. Only those who correctly assess the threat situation will be able to build a modern, coordinated and well thought-out defense that can withstand even complex attacks.
It is also essential to consider all sources of danger in the strategy. This means not only the obvious servers or web applications, but hardware such as smartphones or routers should also be included. But even the best protection strategy can collapse like a house of cards if employees do not keep a watchful eye and, for example, click on a dubious link in an e-mail – detailed staff training should therefore also be included in the planning.
More and more companies are now relying on what is known as a zero-trust security concept. Here, the basic assumption is that no device and/or person within the company network should be granted access unless it is absolutely necessary. This person or device is recognized as a potential security risk and treated accordingly – there is no blind trust in this case.
The world is becoming more and more digital, and the dangers increase almost without exception every year. Cyber criminals are becoming more creative in getting what they want. It is therefore essential to keep up to date with the latest threats or attack vectors on a regular basis in order to be able to flexibly adapt your own cyber security.