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The future of cyber security

Rachel Pulizzi

When the National Crime Agency (NCA) released its annual report on the cyber threats facing UK businesses, it was an eye opening look into how cyber activity has impacted UK businesses over the past 12 months. Here, we look back and into how you can take steps to avoid threats to your business.

2017 was the year of ransomware attacks and huge data breaches, supply chain threats and fake news stories. The WannaCry ransomware attack in May of 2017 saw 300,000 devices infected, across 150 countries, affecting services worldwide, including the NHS. How did it spread? Through a worm. A computer worm is a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers via network connections. Not all worms are malicious, but those that are are designed to take control of computers, either to steal confidential user information or to convert them into remote-controlled 'zombies' or 'bots' that send spam email or attack business and government computer systems. To prevent a worm infection, use a good anti-virus program, use a firewall to help block the worm’s communications and turn off JavaScript for normal web browsing.

Data breaches

2017 also saw the data breach of US credit rating firm, Equifax. The UK arm of the company said files containing information on “fewer than 400,000” UK consumers were accessed in the breach. Data on social security numbers, birth dates and addresses, were taken during the incident. How can you prevent a data breach? First, find out where your personal information resides, then identify the risks that could cause a breach. Apply the most appropriate measures and implement the necessary policies and procedures. Conduct tests and audits, and review regularly.

Supply chain threats

Between 15 August and 12 September 2017, signed downloads of a specific version of a widely used and free computer clean-up tool – Ccleaner and CCleaner Cloud – were infected with multi-stage malware. It’s estimated that over 2 million downloads by both individuals and businesses were affected. Companies including large technology and telecommunications companies based in the UK, Taiwan, Japan, Germany and the US received a second attack following download. To help you establish effective control and oversight of your supply chain, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has guidance that feature 12 principles to be aware of. Find out more here.

Fake news

While fake news is not a cyber threat as such, the NCSC regard it as one of the many tools available to criminals as part of a hybrid campaign. In May 2017, for example, at least six Indian restaurants in the UK were targeted by fake news stories. One restaurant saw its revenue fall by half and had to cut staff hours after the fake story was picked up and spread on social networking sites. You can read more information about the rise of fake news in this Trend Micro report, which also suggests some countermeasures to put in place to avoid becoming a victim.

With increasing threats to cyber security comes an increased demand for people who understand and are skilled at managing and dealing with it. We’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in finding out more about the roles we have available – contact us today. 

Read our related blog: Cyber security trends to watch out for in 2018

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