If you are hacked you will probably go out of business within six months – 60% of hacked businesses do.
Even if you survive, your duty of disclosure means a big hit in customer confidence and you will have to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to repair the damage the hacker has done.
Understanding how hackers work is the key to preventing malicious criminals from damaging your company.
What Is the Cyber Kill Chain?
The cyber kill chain is how one British cybersecurity company characterises the hacking process.
A hacking attack has seven stages:
This is a virtual drive-by of your website or internet connection. Hackers use automated bots to check for any open doors such as outdated software or known vulnerabilities. They look through the door and collect as much information on your company as they can; everything from the software you have on your computers to email addresses and employees’ names.
Once the hacker has collected all the data he can find, the next step is to choose his weapon.
Hackers have a range of tools and weapons in their arsenals, so they select the best weapon, the one that will penetrate your system most effectively and do the most damage.
The hacker is now ready to deliver a payload to your computer or server. This is where a breach is first detectable. However, the payload will go undetected unless you have a File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) in place.
The payload could be an attachment to a phishing email, or even a free SD card supposedly packed with free software goodies: If your system is misconfigured the hacker might be able to upload a malware package directly.
Once someone in your company has downloaded or otherwise installed the hacker’s payload your attacker will start to make changes such as escalating permissions and making changes.
This is the first stage of a hacker attack where serious damage occurs. The hacker might upload ransomware that will encrypt all your customer data and internal files. Paying the ransom rarely gets your files back, so hopefully you have an offline backup system that has not been corrupted.
- Command & Control (C2)
C2 is where the hacker takes over your system, download more of your company info and starts driving a bulldozer through your hard drive, destroying data for the fun of it.
In the final stage of the cyber kill chain, the hacker achieves his objective. This might be to install a backdoor into your computer, a denial of service attack, or to use your servers and trusted status to attack your suppliers or customers.
Many businesses that are hacked, fail to recognise it for months or years, even at this stage. Your reputation is destroyed and nobody will trust you with their name and address, let alone any financial details. Tour business is has a limited life expectancy.
What Is the Best Time to Stop a Hacker?
The best time is now.
No matter what stage a hacking attack is at, it will only get worse unless you kick the hacker out today.
Is it too late? No, you can always prevent an attack from doing more damage.
How do I stop an attack? Hackers are professionals, so call in a professional cybersecurity specialist who will help you undo the vandalism, fix any vulnerabilities you have, and train your employees.
What about the cost? It isn’t free, but every hour the hacker has access to your system is costing you money, so the sooner you lock the hacker out, the sooner you stop haemorrhaging cash.
How Do You Stop Hackers Hitting Your Operations?
You can’t stop hackers looking, but you can make sure they don’t find any way into your website or system. Prevention is easier and cheaper than undoing the damage.
As a business owner, you are a salesperson, a marketer, and an entrepreneur: You are not an IT or web security expert. So, you need to call in experts who can check for and fix your system vulnerabilities.
The Short Version
Nobody is too small to be a hacking target.
Hackers hit you every day looking for a way in. If you leave a door open, leave a key outside or leave your alarm system off, they WILL come in.
Your business revolves around the data you collect, but hackers want your data so they can profit from it.
Protecting your home is simple compared to protecting your business. Your business is a big investment, so deserves professional protection. At the very least you should call a cybersecurity company in to run penetration testing. This will identify and fix the weaknesses that hackers will use to steal or destroy your customer data.
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