Storms on the Horizon: The Biggest Tech Threats of 2020 and What to Do About Them Now
To say the digital age has revolutionized the way we do business would be an understatement. The marvels of high-speed Internet and cloud-based computing have given us the power to do business with anyone, anywhere—and from anywhere. The trade-off is that technology provides opportunities for bad actors to find new ways to do bad things. Cybersecurity remains one of the primary concerns for businesses of all sizes as hackers work tirelessly to invent new ways to infiltrate, disrupt and steal. Let’s take a look at some of the most pressing technology threats we’re facing in 2020 and what you can do now to protect your interests.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are nothing new, but they continue to be a danger to companies conducting business over the web. This attack involves hackers using a large number of compromised devices to inundate your website with thousands of requests, overloading it and causing it to crash. A successful DDoS attack can add up to thousands of dollars in IT repairs, not to mention lost revenue while your site is down.
A botnet threat occurs when a hacker infiltrates a large number of Internet-connected devices and controls them remotely using malware. With this type of threat, the affected computers aren’t directly attacked, but they are hijacked and used (often without the owner’s knowledge) to conduct other cyberattacks such as fraud schemes, spam or a coordinated DDoS attack against someone else. You may feel the effect in lost processing power, but just as importantly, your computer becomes a threat to someone else every time it is online.
In mid-2017, the world became acutely aware of the power of ransomware when in a matter of hours the infamous “WannaCry” virus shut down a quarter million computers across the globe, causing losses in the billions. Ransomware effectively locks down your computer and threatens to delete your files unless you pay a ransom (typically through a cryptocurrency payment). When hackers make good on their threats, it can result in severe losses of equipment, data and money.
With this variation of ransomware, the hacker hijacks a computer, not to shut it down, but to use its resources to mine for cryptocurrency. Victims often don’t even realize their computers are affected because the malware runs in the background. In this case, the loss comes from stolen processing power and bandwidth, which slows your devices down and causes more wear-and-tear on the processors.
Drive-by Download Attacks
While many people know they can accidentally download a virus by clicking a download link or an email attachment, hackers now know how to infect computers with no “click” required. With a drive-by download attack, all the user has to do to become a victim is visit an infected website. As the website loads, the malware downloads automatically.
What to Do About These Threats
Cybersecurity threats can be quite costly, but most can also be prevented by taking some basic precautions. These include:
- Keeping all your software and firmware updated to the latest versions. Each new version usually contains patches and protections to counter the latest cybersecurity threats.
- Performing regular backups. We recommend at least three redundant backups with at least one backup off-site. In this way, if a cyberattack crashes your system or corrupts your data, you can always get back up and running.
- Utilizing strong firewalls and password protection.Hackers prefer easy targets. If your system is behind a robust firewall and/or passwords are too complicated to “guess” easily, they will go elsewhere.
- Training staff in cybersecurity practices. Sometimes a company’s greatest vulnerability has nothing to do with their system or network. All it may take to be susceptible to attack is for one team member to click a bad link, choose an easy password or fail to log out of a computer. Make sure your team is properly trained in best practices to guard against cyberattacks.
Melrose Inc is committed to helping you stay as safe as possible against these and other technological threats. Our team can help ensure your company or firm is properly prepared to operate securely through 2020 and beyond.