You Need to Know About These Persistent Data Security Threats

Data Security Threats
Data Security Threats

As a business owner or IT manager, you already have measures in place to deal with threats that pop up from time to time. However, not all threats can be dealt with by a one and done solution. Some threats are more persistent than others. It is particularly frustrating when you have dealt with a threat only to have it pop up again. It is like having to repeatedly swat the same fly.

The worst of these persistent threats are state-sponsored attacks aimed at industry leaders, journalists, and large corporations. These types of threats require an Advanced Persistent Threat strategy designed to work as hard to protect you as your attackers work to exploit you.

That said, state-sponsored attackers are not the only ones you need to worry about. Persistent threats are everywhere. Attackers don’t want to hit you just once any more than a burglar is satisfied with one successful burglary. When burglarized, individuals act quickly to change their locks and install alarms. Corporations move more slowly, leaving them open to second and third successful attacks. The key is to figure out where the attack vector is and close it quickly. From there, you have to completely reassess where other risks lie.

Here are a few places to look:

Fake Apps

WhatsApp is one of the many targets for fake app makers. They put clones of popular apps on the various app stores. You can find third-party app stores flooded with these apps. The UK is trying to force Apple to allow third-party apps stores on their platform. Apple is fighting it tooth and nail. Regardless of any other motive, it is true that most of the Trojan horse apps are going to be encountered by side loading and third-party app stores. The key is to only download vetted apps from authentic, first-party app stores on mobile devices.

This is not to say that first-party app stores don’t have their own fair share of issues. But be careful not to fall into the trap of false equivalency. App stores are not created equally. You will greatly reduce your exposure to risk by only downloading official apps from first-party stores.

When you compromise your device with a weaponized app, you expose your contacts to attack as well. The email that you send to your team from your personal email account becomes a delivery mechanism of threat that can soon overtake the company. That threat is pernicious and persistent. Reduce it by only using official apps from official providers.

Compromised Passwords

There are sites you can visit to see if any of your passwords have been compromised and any of your accounts hacked. Some operating systems and browsers have something like this feature built in.

What you need is a system to change your passwords frequently without having to remember all those changing passwords for all of your accounts. It is a near impossible task. Fortunately, there are password managers that can get the job done reasonably well.

In a world where everything is a subscription, you can expect to pay a monthly or annual fee for these types of services. Just be sure to have password managers that work on all the platforms your business supports. You don’t want your smartphone to be left behind while your desktop passwords are up to date and safe. This type of software is important because your passwords are always under persistent threat. Password managers can help.

Audits with Consequences

It is not enough for you to set out clear data security policies for all of your employees and contractors. You have to follow up with periodic security audits. When someone fails those audits, there have to be consequences for that failure. You might not fire them on a first offense. But recognize that poor security hygiene is like a cashier leaving the cash drawer open when going on break. That is a fireable offense. Attackers make a living exploiting small lapses. Every individual in the company has to be held accountable for their actions that leave the company vulnerable. With no accountability, your policies are utterly useless.

In the real world, company security is always under threat. Stay on top of all your persistent attack vectors by sticking with authentic apps and authentic app stores, using password managers designed for businesses, and by holding workers accountable for bad security hygiene.

 

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