Cyber-attacks have been on the rise in recent years. Ransomware is becoming more common and evolved and threats are continually evolving. Therefore, nowadays it’s absolutely critical for every organization to learn how to prepare for a cyber attack.

In a recent executive order, the White House urged businesses to become stronger against ransomware, “The private sector also has a critical responsibility to protect against these threats. All organizations must recognize that no company is safe from being targeted by ransomware, regardless of size or location.” 

Where to Begin – How to Prepare for a Cyber Attack

So, while the cyber threats are evolving there are steps you can take now to prepare for and prevent attacks on your organization. We’ll dive into what those steps are, but first, you should be aware of the common cyber attacks and new threats. 

Top 3 Most common Cyber Attacks

When it comes to knowing how to prepare for a cyber attack, it’s important to know the most common methods. The three most common cyber attacks are malware, phishing, MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks, and DOS (denial-of-service) attacks. 

  1. Malware

Malware is an umbrella term for any type of attack where a hacker uses a vulnerability to breach a network and install malicious software in the system. The most common types of malware are spyware, viruses and worms. Ransomware is a form of malware when the attacker denies access to the rightful user and demands a ransom to allow the victim access to the system. Ransomware is one of the most common cyber attacks in 2022. 

  1. Phishing

Phishing is when an attacker sends a malicious link or attachment to users often impersonating a legitimate business. If the victim clicks the link or downloads the attachment, it could give the hacker access to their system or plant malware on their device. Phishing is most commonly sent via email, but can also appear via social media or text message. 

  1. MITM

A man-in-the-middle attack occurs when a hacker positions themselves in the middle of two parties to observe, steal or manipulate information shared. MITM attacks can be very difficult to detect.

How to Prepare for a Cyber Attack – Top 5 Steps

When learning how to prepare for a cyber attack, there are some critical steps you must take. In the same executive order, the White House stated, “Much as our homes have locks and alarm systems and our office buildings have guards and security to meet the threat of theft, we urge you to take ransomware crime seriously and ensure your corporate cyber defenses match the threat.”

The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Cybersecurity Framework provides five steps for preparing against cyber attacks:

  1. Identify

First, list all of the equipment, software and data you use. Also, identify the roles of your employees, vendors and anyone with access to sensitive data. 

  1. Protect

Next, protect your network and data by controlling access, encrypting sensitive data, updating software regularly, ensuring you have formal policies in place and training employees on cybersecurity (more on that in another blog post). 

  1. Detect 

Once your policies are in place, continually monitor for any suspicious activity like unauthorized access, and investigate unusual activity immediately. 

  1. Respond

If an incident does occur, respond in a timely manner to notify customers, employees and/or law enforcement. Investigate the attack and contain it as soon as possible. 

  1. Recover 

After the attack, recover by restoring equipment, maintaining communications with your customers and employees and updating your cybersecurity policies with any changes needed to prevent future attacks. 

Evolve Your Cybersecurity to Protect Against New Threats 

There are constantly new threats, and, as your threat landscape evolves to include more IoT (Internet of Things) devices, remote access, applications, and more, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage.

Hopefully this article helps you better understand how to prepare for a cyber attack. Reach out for a free network security and risk assessment to see where your business is currently vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Our endpoint detection & response (EDR) solution can help you implement the NIST Cyber Security Framework and identify and respond to cyber attacks. 

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