In our 12 Threats of Christmas feature, we want to look at cyber threats and issues that can impact organisations.  

Some may be known to you, whilst others, may seem a little more out of the box. 

On the ninth day of Christmas, our cyber threat is: 

Computer Healthcare 

We wouldn’t leave our homes or our work places unlocked. Let alone regularly forget to set the alarm or check the other security measures are working correctly. But why do we do this? Not only to adhere to the terms and conditions of our insurance policies, but also to prevent criminals from physically getting into our buildings. 

Why do we not take the same precautions when it comes to our cyber security? 

60% of companies have experienced a data breach of some kind. Alarmingly, most of the sources of these breaches can be traced back to poor email security practices. However, as technology has progressed, emails are seemingly the backbone of many organisations. Criminals know this and will exploit any weakness they see fit to walk away with the swag they want. 

Email modification fraud sees criminals sending scam emails from an address that looks a lot like an official account, with very subtle accounts. They mimic the look and style of your emails, in the hope of eliciting a response. 

Email spoofing is the cloning of an email address in its entirety. This is a very effective phishing method. The email does not appear in any sent box, the only time the owner of the email will be aware of anything untoward will be if the recipient responds directly. 

This is where Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance, or DMARC as it’s more widely known can help.  

DMARC is a protocol recommended by the National Cyber Security Centre and prevents cyber criminals from spoofing your email addresses and imitating a member of staff. Cyber criminals are able to see which organisations have the DMARC protocol implemented, and those that don’t. This enables them to easily identify ‘easy targets’ for email modification fraud. 

As with email protection, sometimes we let other areas of our cyber security lapse, as it isn’t deemed a high risk. 

What other steps can I take to protect my business? 

In order to keep your systems safe, it is advised that you ensure the following safety precautions are taken. 

Patching 

Back in May 2017, the NHS was a victim of the Wannacry ransomware cyber attack, due to not patching their systems when recommended. This attack cost the NHS in the region of £92m and caused chaos and misery to thousands of patients who had their appointments cancelled. 

It is recommended that you patch operating systems within 14 days of the patch being issued. Having a main admin account who can facilitate this patch is recommended, as it prevents users from delaying the updates and leaving the system open for criminals to exploit. 

Anti-virus software 

Everyone has anti-virus software on their computer. It’s one of those things that you automatically buy when you purchase a computer. However, it’s a commodity that people are used to having, and presume it’s set to the highest standard possible keeping the cyber sphere safe. 

When you have anti-virus software, you need to: 

  • Ensure it updates daily 
  • Ensure its configured to scan web pages and files automatically as you open 
  • Ensure staff know what to do with alerts 
  • Ensure it doesn’t expire, and the renewal date lapses. Once the software has expired, you’re no longer protected 

By completing these simple steps, you’re able to give your computer a cleaner bill of health, enabling you to have peace of mind when it comes to closing the door on cyber criminals.  

Missed Day 8 which focused on Removable Devices? Fear not, you can read it here.