Since the pandemic hit in 2020, a record number of businesses are operating online. Unfortunately, this increase in online business operations is coupled with an increase in data breaches. The more we interact with clients, employees and business partners online, the more we share personal information that cybercriminals can profit from. It should therefore come as no surprise that 2020 was a record-breaking year for data hacks. In fact, cybercrime went up by 600%[i] when the pandemic first hit us last year.
Individuals already have a lot to worry about when it comes to data security. As an average person who cares about privacy, it would be normal to worry about the information on your social media accounts, the intimate phone calls you make and texts you send, and the money they’re saving up in the bank. As a business owner, your worries don’t end there. After all, any data breach would affect not only you but also your clients, employees and business partners.
A data breach could compromise your business operations in many ways. If hackers get ahold of proprietary information such as secret recipes, they could destroy the unique aspect of your business that gives you a competitive edge. Similarly, hackers who steal information about your clients could destroy the trust these clients have in you. This could lead to clients switching to a different brand that they feel they can trust. Finally, by stealing information about your business partners or investors, hackers could send these people running for the hills, thus leaving you high and dry.
All the above scenarios would be difficult, if not downright impossible, to recover from. After all, developing another unique business ingredient that can give you a competitive edge could take years. Regaining trust from clients, business partners and investors also takes time.
Instead of waiting for your data security to be compromised before you react, it’s important to put safeguards in place in advance. Even so, developing a robust system is much easier said than done. In order to develop a system that offers effective company-wide security, it’s important to spot the vulnerabilities in your current system.
For starters, if your system lacks sufficient safeguards against credential stuffing in place in their platform, then an amateur hacker can easily get access to private information. With average brute force protections, hackers can still use bots to get around this system. Most online platforms with brute force protections block access from a specific IP address when someone from that address tries to log into one user account too many times. However, these days, hackers have access to sophisticated bots. Rather than log into the same user account over and over again, the bots generate one password then try it on one account after another. Once they gain access to one account, they would share the credentials of that account online and go on testing the rest of the stolen passwords.
Likewise, broken authentication can make you vulnerable to hackers. Broken authentication is a general term for any attack where a hacker impersonates a legitimate account owner. However, in order to do this, the hacker needs personal information such as the user ID, user password and answers to any security questions associated with the account. It’s easy to assume that this information is difficult to come by. On the contrary, a determined hacker can access this information easily – especially if you use public wifi.
The way a network administrator manages browsing sessions on a particular network can create vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. For example, the process of assigning session IDs can leave someone browsing on that network open to attacks. When someone is logging into a public wifi network for the first time, they’re assigned a user ID. If the network administrator doesn’t assign the user a new user ID after they’ve logged in, this person is left exposed to a session fixation attack. In such an attack, malicious actors send the user a predetermined user ID in form of a link which directs them to log into their account. Once the user has logged in, a hacker can use the same ID and therefore pose as the original user. With this strategy, hackers can access whatever information is available in the account the original user was trying to log into.
A network which isn’t programmed to log users out of their account after a specific amount of time can also be exploited by hackers. For example, if you walk away from your computer in the middle of a browsing session, a hacker can easily piggyback on that session and access the information you’ve been looking at. This could include information in your social media accounts, bank accounts or email accounts.
Networks which display the user ID in their website URL can also be attractive to hackers. With such easy access to a user’s user ID, it would be very easy for a hacker to piggyback on that browsing session. Moreover, a hacker who has piggybacked on your browsing session can access all the accounts that user ID allows access to.
Finally, something as simple as a phishing attack could grant a malicious actor access to private information from your business. Since phishing is so common, many people make the mistake of assuming they can spot a phishing attempt from a mile away. On the contrary, hackers get past even the most paranoid people by exploiting their emotions. For example, rather than send you an email titled “Pictures of your girlfriend,” a seasoned hacker will refer to your girlfriend by name. Would you be able to overcome the temptation to click on that email? Most people wouldn’t, and the moment you click that phishing email, you’ve already compromised your security.
In order to prevent these attacks, you need to start by training your employees to recognize cybercrime when it’s happening. Make sure your employees understand how viruses operate, as well as how phishing attacks work on even the most careful people. Moreover, the network your employees use needs to be designed to assign a user a different user ID after they’ve already authenticated and logged in. It’s also crucial to avoid displaying user IDs as part of the URL of a website. Additionally, to safeguard against credential stuffing, it’s important to use a password manager which helps you set strong passwords. A good password manager will reject commonly used passwords as well as passwords that are easy to guess.
This system makes dealing with corporate passwords easy. The Passwork team understands the importance of cybersecurity and how crucial strong passwords are for securing sensitive data within a company. Passwork solves three main problems by safely storing self-hosted corporate passwords, working and collaborating with corporate passwords, and helping with administration and management.
Passwork is easy to use. There are quite a few options to choose from depending on the needs of your company and the number of employees on your team.
To sign up for Passwork or to get more information, click here.