1st of 3 Cybersecurity Articles
Over the next three weeks, we’ll be examining cybersecurity tips to defend against credential theft. We’ll commence by defining credential theft and how your credentials can be compromised. In week two, we’ll explain how cybercriminals use stolen credentials and how employees prevent credential theft. Each week we’ll lay out three to four tips to assist in your cybersecurity readiness plan. In the third week, we’ll explain why cybersecurity awareness training should be part of your defense strategy against credential theft.
What is credential theft?
As part of your cybersecurity readiness plan, it is imperative to understand the most prized possession of cybercriminals. Consumers are the victims, and their credentials are the trophies of the cybercriminal.
Credential theft is a form of cybercrime that involves stealing a victim’s credentials, such as a username and password. Buying and selling stolen credentials on the dark web is big business, and for those who make credentials available on the dark web, the financial rewards can be significant. A cybercriminal dealing in stolen credentials can make tens of thousands of dollars from buyers interested in purchasing them. By selling stolen credentials to multiple buyers, organizations that experience a breach of credentials can easily be under digital assault from dozens, or even hundreds, of attackers.
How are credentials compromised?
Cybercriminals steal employee credentials using a wide range of techniques and tactics. Here are some common ways that data can end up on the dark web:
- Phishing Scams – Phishing attacks are a persistent threat to business, with a staggering 90% of breaches involving phishing. These fake emails are disguised as legitimate messages that attempt to trick users into disclosing personal information, such as usernames, passwords, or financial information. Phishing emails can deliver malware, or malicious software, that captures credentials.
- Malvertising – Malvertisements look legitimate but are malicious advertisements that spread malware and compromise systems, usually through the injection of malicious codes into ads. Cybercriminals pay legitimate online advertising platforms to display the infected ads on their websites, exposing visitors to malware that can capture credentials.
- Watering Holes – In a watering hole attack, cybercriminals first identify a website that’s frequently visited by users within a targeted group or organization, and then they inject malware into the code of the legitimate website, which can lead to an exploit of user credentials.
- Web Attacks – Web attacks scan internet-facing company assets for vulnerabilities, and then they exploit those vulnerabilities to establish a foothold. Once inside, cybercriminals move laterally through the network to discover credentials.
Cybersecurity tip # 1 – Safeguard your data with Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
Data is the lifeblood of every business. Unfortunately, the risks and threats to the protection, privacy, and usability of that data are endless. Follow the 3-2-1 method for backups: a minimum of three unique copies of your data, two available locally and one off-site or in the cloud. Make sure to test your backups often for functionality and integrity.
Cybersecurity tip # 2 – Safeguard your data with Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
One-level security is no longer enough. Even the strongest passwords are vulnerable to theft or exposure. Requiring more than one method to authenticate user identity or access permissions can reduce or eliminate the risk of stolen or unauthorized credentials being utilized.
Cybersecurity tip # 3 – Keep your apps, programs, and systems up to date
While updates often introduce new or enhanced features into your apps, programs, and systems, they also install security and performance fixes known as patches. Undiscovered defects or flaws can leave your systems exposed. Hackers will exploit any vulnerability or security gap they find. Keeping your systems updated is vital for keeping your business cybersecurity ready.
If you have any questions about how to increase your organization’s defenses against cybersecurity threats; we’re here to help and educate.