Extensive digitalization puts additional dimension to the definition of the work environment. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applicability to organizational networks has enabled job continuity outside company premises. But cloud-imposed mobility, freedom, and flexibility also increase the exposure to cyber-attacks.
Office extension to a home kitchen on a slow Monday or train station while waiting for a ride is inevitably linked with an online session. Security depends on many factors a person can be unaware of. So how to control the convenience that also comes as a liability for a business?
Everyday setups & potential cyber threats
Different work environments are susceptible to various threat scenarios. Whether you’re working at a company HQ, home office, or connected to public WiFi, the risk applies to any situation.
The office: malware & DDoS attacks
A corporate network perimeter is an information-rich ecosystem. Complex internal operations control incoming user traffic, store files and information, connect endpoints and IoT systems, enable applications, etc. The scope is enormous, so gaining access to the network is often the main target of cybercriminals.
Even though cybersecurity evolves to address existing internal and external risks, the variety of cyberattacks is colossal. The main threat categories that organizations most often suffer from include, but are not limited to:
Activated when installing malicious software by clicking on a planted link or attachment.
Malware may come in many forms as software viruses, ransomware, spyware, or worms, which can perform actions internally once it's in the system. Such corrupt activity is widespread among malicious actors, who block access to network components in exchange for considerable ransom demands.
However, malware has more than one use case — illicit activity also includes planting unauthorized software, collecting data from storage drives, or damaging the company system to disrupt its operation.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
Botnet system overfloods network resources to disrupt its operations and response capabilities.
The purpose of a DDoS attack is to take advantage of a company network by stopping its service. The overloaded system cannot respond to sent requests. To execute such an attack, malicious actors must have an IP address of an organization they are targeting.
Usually, a DDoS barrage buys time for another cyberattack — installing malicious software, accessing sensitive data, or corrupting network devices. It also works purely as service disruption for time-sensitive services and markets like banking, trading, and land-water-air transportation to cause damage at several levels.
Work from home: IoT devices & apps
Home office setup provides employees with freedom and flexibility to manage their time. However, working from home increase the risk of overlooking the category of unsecured endpoints and devices that may contain corporate data.
Besides, unrestricted use of fully organizational or personal corporate-linked devices may cause an overlap of internal systems with corrupt applications, leaving security managers unaware of exposure and providing fraudsters with a security vulnerability to exploit.
Attacks on IoT devices
Online available devices that facilitate entrance to company resources.
Firewalls usually secure the infrastructure of a corporate perimeter. Meanwhile, the security of in-house WiFi routers, smart devices, and printers entirely depends on employee awareness. Unprotected access to online-linked appliances is barely a tough nut for cybercriminals to crack.
IoT devices can work as a highway to access and collect business-sensitive data from a company network and install malicious software or files unnoticed. Moreover, freely accessible devices can become a botnet part that partakes in DDoS attacks.
Malicious apps & browser extensions
Hidden corrupt codes in downloadable materials that spread within the company.
“Work smarter, not harder” is a mindset that plays a massive role in utilizing a variety of tasks with online tools and solutions. Subscribed or free mobile applications can easily be embedded with malicious scripts and elements.
Websites and download pages can also function as a conductor of compromised elements. Covered by false links and tools, fraudsters inject Structured Query Language (SQL) queries into organization servers using the same coding language, releasing viruses and accessing information as an insider.
Public network: MitM attack & phishing
Working in a coffee shop became a constant for freelancers. Some employees that travel between cities or countries to spend part of their time in HQ and at home naturally connect to available WiFi to complete their tasks while commuting on a train. And the public network rarely can be trusted.
User device name appearing on a public WiFi list enlists it as a target for cybercriminals virtually and physically since you are within reach of the signal. From digitally performed password attacks to a direct approach for social engineering creates a real possibility to disclose any crucial information.
Third-party attempt to redirect or alter communication channels to retrieve information unsuspectedly
Remote team cooperation is hardly possible without file sharing, conference calls, and the use of company applications. However, the session unnoticeably can be closely monitored by an unauthorized third party. By intercepting established data transactions, malicious actors may obtain credentials, information, or knowledge that could become a part of criminal activity.
Connection to a personal hotspot with a company VPN running in the background might be clever but deceiving. Bluetooth connection is often left open due to system requirements when enabling AirDrop or for sharing contact cards. Openly available details establish suitable conditions for Bluetooth attacks to collect personal information, credentials, and other favorable information for cybercriminals.
Real-looking correspondence with false links & attachments aims to fish out sensitive information.
Phishing is a social engineering attack that seeks to collect sensitive information from individuals. Fraudsters mirror familiar interfaces with minor changes, so users enter credentials or credit card details. This way, malicious actors copy data or obtain direct access to a system before the victim realizes it.
Usually, it’s an email or text message with an attached PDF file or link from the company, vendor, or service like a bank that seems credible. However, the topic often refers to urgency: a reminder of overdue invoice payment, a blocked account, or a request to renew a password. Individuals click it without another thought, while malicious actors withdraw data/funds or install unauthorized software.
Mindset of awareness
In the modern context of cybersecurity, rapidly growing reports on malicious activity and suffered damages are daily news. However, being a hot topic, cyberattacks have become somewhat abstract to be feared, even when they aren't well understood.
Therefore, educate yourself and your teams. Getting familiar with potential risks and where they come from is a starting point for establishing action against it.
The origin of cybersecurity threats
A cybersecurity threat is the potential of an ill-intent attack on sensitive information or systems disposed of by institutions or individuals. The main intention of such an event is to disrupt the organization’s performance, impose negative consequences, and gain knowledge or financial profit from it.
Despite the method, approach, or form of a cyberthreat, behind every attack stands a malicious actor—a person or group led to getting access or information illegally. Behind the script can lie an organized crime group with a focus on financial gains or a sole hacktivist driven by an intention of an idea to change the world.
Intel insights can win wars, change the course of democratic elections, or destroy business competitors. Wheater the actual goal, a thought always drives someone to achieve its purpose, and unknowingly you can open a door for it.
Never assume safety
Letting your guard down is as destructive as ignorance of the fact that security always matters. Incomplete security measures work as much as no precaution — a long and complicated password written on a post-it sticker equals downloading the µTorrent app on a work laptop when flying back from a business trip.
Organizations put a lot of effort into implementing tools and solutions that help mitigate the risks of cyberthreats. Properly utilized security measures considerably downgrade the attack surface and exposure to data breaches.
Even though technological advancements often focus on protection and organizations heavily invest in security solutions, feeling overly confident can result in undesired circumstances due to existing:
A zero-day vulnerability is an unknown software susceptibility a vendor or its user is unaware of yet, adversely exploited by malicious actors. Shadow IT — a non-approved use of software like browser extensions or applications on corporate devices. Questionable contents can lead to data leaks and exposure of a company network to third parties.
Any open pain points or unintentional slip-ups may damage organizational assets and reputation. With extended borders of an office and remote work, in a nutshell, awareness of lurking online threats is crucial for healthy business continuity.
How NordLayer can mitigate cyber threats
The digital world is swarming with complex cybersecurity threats. To reduce the potential risks, the most effective strategy might be a form of adaptation to the situation instead of denying the risks. Therefore, a collection of security features enable one another to secure the company network effectively.
NordLayer provides organizations with secure remote access to company resources despite the setting its teams are working from. Virtual private gateways help hide company IP addresses, establish user identity verification, and block threats. Solution controlled from a singular point of view, NordLayer solution makes user management and traffic monitoring easier.
Get in touch to learn more about mitigation of lurking cybersecurity risks and protecting the company network while employees connect even from unsecured networks.