Recognizing the Most Common Threats – Not Guessing

Although most companies today are equipped with more than ten different security solutions, it is still becoming more difficult for them to get an accurate picture of the biggest risks.

IT security budgets are steadily increasing, with security breaches – as security systems become denser – increasing significantly in frequency. As early as October 2021, the number of security breaches reported exceeded that of the entire previous year. Apparently, the problem is not how much money is being spent, but on what it is being spent on.

Most IT security teams tend to be primarily reactive. That is, they wait to see what analysts recommend in their latest industry reports (the latest firewall, for example). Or, they invest in solutions to protect against a very specific threat after it affects a competitor in the industry. This gives companies a rather deceptive sense of security.

Isolated Solutions and Their Risks

Reactive and especially isolated approaches fail because they are mostly ineffective against dynamic threats. Even selective IT security audits performed by external consultants provide only a snapshot of the risk. You could perhaps sum it up like this: Those who rely on trendy offerings are trying to see into the future with a cloudy crystal ball. Those who react to security breaches that have already occurred are taking a look in the rearview mirror.

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Neither approach is suitable for a reliable and forward-looking IT security policy. This is because it must constantly evolve with new technologies and practices and continually adapt to an environment of threats that are themselves in constant flux. It follows that with such questionable security systems, management cannot demonstrate a good return on investment.

In addition, data and systems are usually scattered across different cloud solutions and employees are no longer bound to regular working hours and locations. This has led to major changes in network architecture in recent years. As a result, companies need to ensure that their IT security strategy is also adapted to this digital diversity.

Patterns of Most Hacker Attacks

When assessing the most common threats, it is also important to note that most cybercriminals are not particularly sophisticated technically. In contrast, a much smaller group has particularly sophisticated attack methods, behind which are well-organized hacker groups or national intelligence agencies. Countering these threats is certainly an enormous, almost unmanageable challenge for a number of companies.

In fact, most hackers exploit avoidable vulnerabilities and careless human behavior to achieve their goals. This requires neither great technical nor financial resources, but one thing above all: staying power. That’s why email attacks with infected Office documents are still very popular, mainly spread via phishing. Compromised email accounts are still the most widely used tactic – even ahead of malware infections.

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Once the attacker manages to gain access to his victim, he starts looking for privileges and sensitive credentials that allow him to move freely through networks and mine for sensitive information. Privileged accounts, such as administrator accounts, and server or database accounts, remain the most effective method of capturing sensitive data. Using this method, hackers can hide their own tracks and operate undetected for months – sometimes even years – ultimately causing damage.

Calculate Cyber Risks

For an effective IT security policy, therefore, sufficient information must be available to properly assess all relevant cyber risks. A solid IT security strategy focuses not only on a real-time view of threats but also on translating them into a set of clear priorities and actions.

To do this, data should be collected from across the enterprise. That is, data about people, processes, technologies, cybersecurity products, and third parties included. However, this approach not only provides a bird’s eye view but can be broken down into relevant details. In this way, the risk of every employee, every third-party process, and every technology across the enterprise can be evaluated, managed, and reduced.

With the help of this detailed real-time data, IT security teams can develop an IT security plan that takes the biggest threats into account and demonstrably minimizes the risk. It should be noted that many managers and employees like to delegate IT security entirely to the IT security team. On the one hand, this thinking is certainly correct, but on the other hand, it also falls short. So when you consider that a large proportion of hacker attacks are due to phishing attacks, it is all the more appropriate that IT security also becomes part of the company-wide guidelines.

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This means that, ideally, all employees should be involved in the implementation of new IT security systems and made familiar with the security strategies. At the same time, with such insights and successfully implemented measures, sensible cyber insurance policies can also be better planned, calculated, and, above all, acquired more cheaply.