The way in which cyber attacks are conducted against businesses is changing. No longer do hackers, as well as other nefarious individuals, rely on a single point of entry. Many hackers now infiltrate and attack their victim’s network using multiple points of entry. Known as a multi-vector cyber attack, it’s a more complex type of cyber attack with devastating consequences for businesses.
Multi-Vector Cyber Attacks Explained
Also known as a polymorphic cyber attack, a multi-vector cyber attack is characterized by the use of multiple points of entry. In other words, they don’t use a single method to infiltrate a network. Rather, they use two or more methods of infiltration.
Like other cyber attacks, multi-vector cyber attacks are conducted for a variety of reasons. Some hackers perform multi-vector cyber attacks to stain sensitive data, which they’ll either sell to a third party or use for their own nefarious purposes. Other hackers perform multi-vector cyber attacks to cripple or take down a business’s network. Regardless, all multi-vector cyber attacks involve the use of multiple entry points, meaning they use multiple methods of infiltration.
The Rise of Multi-Vector Cyber Attacks
Multi-vector cyber attacks are a relatively new phenomenon. It wasn’t until 2017 when they first emerged. Since then, however, they’ve become increasingly common in today’s ever-connected digital landscape.
It’s not just large companies being targeted by multi-vector cyber attacks, either. Small- and medium-sized businesses are targeted just as frequently — if not more frequently — than their large counterparts. Smaller businesses, in fact, are viewed as low-hanging fruit by hackers. Hackers realize that smaller businesses lack the resources of their larger counterparts, so they may feel compelled to perform a multi-vector cyber attack against them.
Vectors Used in Multi-Vector Cyber Attacks
The “vector” in a multi-vector cyber attack refers to the point of entry used by a hacker to infiltrate a network. There are dozens of possible vectors that can leave a network susceptible to a multi-vector cyber attack, some of the most common of which include email, social media, databases, web browsers, USB flash drives, mobile apps and even online ads.
By definition, a multi-vector cyber attack is a digital attack on a network in which the hacker uses multiple points of entry. It’s a more complex type of cyber attack, making it more difficult to protect against. With that said, you can still protect your business’s network from multi-vector cyber attacks by deploying the appropriate safeguards.
Statistics show there are now over 7 billion devices connected to the internet. From computers and smartphones to wearable electronics, automotive infotainment systems and even smart household appliances, countless devices are now able to send and receive data over the internet. Unfortunately, this has led to increasing rates of botnet-related cyber attacks.
What Is a Botnet?
A botnet is a network of internet-connected devices controlled by a hacker that’s used for the purpose of conducting cyber attacks or other illicit cyber activities. The devices themselves typically aren’t owned by the hacker who controls them. Rather, they are owned by individuals and business owners, most of whom don’t even realize their devices have been hijacked. The hacker essentially takes control of the internet-connected devices, after which he or she uses them to conduct cyber attacks.
Botnets are capable of performing a wide range of cyber attacks, some of which include the following:
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)
Keylogging and data theft
Malware deployment through web injection
Domain Name Server (DNS) spoofing
How Big Are Botnets?
Botnets vary in size. Some consist of just a few internet-connected devices, whereas others consist of millions of internet-connected devices. Research shows the world’s largest known botnet was BredoLab, which consists of roughly 30 million hijacked devices.
Generally speaking, the larger the botnet, the more destructive and wide-reaching its effects. If a botnet is used to conduct a DDoS attack, for example, its impact will be measured the number of devices it has. A botnet with just 10 devices probably won’t cause any noticeable impact on a target business’s network. A botnet with 1 million devices, on the other hand, can easily take the network offline, especially if little or no safeguards are used to filter the malicious traffic.
How to Tell If Device Is Used for a Botnet
So, how do you know if one of your business’s computers or devices is being used in a botnet? When a computer or device, it will likely run slower than normal, especially if it’s being used for DDoS attacks. The DDoS attack requires resources, so the computer or device won’t have the same amount of available resources for legitimate processes like running programs. In addition to slower speeds, a computer or device may trip antivirus software if it’s being used for a botnet.
Don’t let a botnet wreak havoc on your business’s network. Monitor for signs of both device hijacking, as well as botnet-related cyber attacks, to achieve a safe and secure network.
If your computer is running slow or experiencing other software-related problems, you might be wondering whether a registry cleaner is worth using. Registry cleaners have been around for over a decade. During that time, they’ve become a common performance optimization tool used for computers powered by a Windows operating system. Although there are several reputable and well-known registry cleaners, though, you should think twice before using one to clean up your computer’s registry.
What Is a Registry Cleaner?
A registry cleaner is a type of third-party software that’s designed specifically to remove redundant, erroneous or unnecessary entries in the Windows Registry. To better understand how registry cleaners work, you must first look at the Windows Registry itself.
All Windows operating systems use a database to store configuration settings. Known as the Windows Registry, it contains data for the kernel, user interface, hardware drivers, program settings, and more. The Windows Registry consists of thousands of entries, each of which has a root key and value. A registry cleaner is simply a type of software — not offered by Microsoft, but rather offered by other companies — that’s designed to clean up the Windows Registry so that the computer performs better.
What Microsoft Says About Registry Cleaners
While registry cleaners are common, they aren’t supported by Microsoft — at least not in Windows 10. When users of the popular registry cleaner CCleaner upgraded from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, they discovered a notification warning them that the software was incompatible with Windows 10.
“Some products such as registry cleaning utilities suggest that the registry needs regular maintenance or cleaning. However, serious issues can occur when you modify the registry incorrectly using these types of utilities. These issues might require users to reinstall the operating system due to instability,” wrote Microsoft.
Why Registry Cleaners Aren’t Needed With Windows 10
Microsoft, of course, made several improvements to its operating system with the arrival of Windows 10. With these improvements, registry cleaners typically aren’t required. In fact, using a registry cleaner could do more harm than good by messing with your computer’s settings. If you run a registry cleaner on a Windows 10 PC, it may create even more problems. Therefore, it’s best to err on the side of caution by avoiding the use of registry cleaners with Windows 10.
Rather than using a registry cleaner, consider using Windows’s built-in disk cleaning tool. Just pull up the search bar and search for “disk cleanup.” After locating and executing the tool, it will clean up your computer’s files, which should improve its performance while also fixing common software-related problems.
Firewalls and antivirus software are two of the most popular and widely used cybersecurity solutions. While both are designed to protect against cyber threats, however, they aren’t necessarily the same. So, what’s the difference between a firewall and antivirus software? To better understand the purpose of each of these cybersecurity solutions, including how they differ, keep reading.
What Is a Firewall?
A firewall is a cybersecurity solution that’s designed specifically to monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic on a network. It uses specific rules, which it applies to the network’s traffic. If a network packet doesn’t comply with a rule, the firewall may flag it for suspicious activity while simultaneously blocking the respective Internet Protocol (IP) address.
The term “firewall” is also used to describe a partition that prevents or slows down the spreading of fire. For computers, a firewall works in a similar way. It serves as a barrier between a network and its traffic. Most operating systems have built-in firewalls, though you can also download and deploy a third-party firewall.
What Is Antivirus Software?
Antivirus software, on the other hand, is software that scans for, as well as fixes, viruses and other forms of malware on a computer or device. Unlike firewalls, antivirus software doesn’t scan incoming and outgoing traffic. Rather, it only scans the computer or device.
There are dozens of different types of antivirus software, each of which uses a specific database to identify cyber threats. While scanning your computer, the software will look for signs of the cyber threats listed in its database. If it detects a cyber threat, the software will issue a notification while also either quarantining or removing the problematic file or files.
The primary difference between firewalls and antivirus software is that the former is designed to block suspicious activity on a network, whereas the latter is designed to protect against viruses and other forms of malware.
Which Should I Use?
Rather than choosing between a firewall or antivirus software, consider deploying both cybersecurity solutions on your small business’s network. If you only use a firewall, malware may sneak onto your computer undetected. Conversely, if you only use antivirus software, your network could be compromised with malicious traffic.
Deploying both cybersecurity solutions ensures a higher level of protection against cyber threats. So, don’t assume that either a firewall or antivirus software is sufficient. If you only use one of these cybersecurity solutions, you’ll place yourself at a greater risk of cyber attack.
While most people associate the month of October with Halloween, another important event occurs during this fall-season month. From Oct. 1 through the 31 is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). As a result, there’s no better time than now to evaluate your small business’s cybersecurity plan and make the necessary adjustments to improve it. In case this is your first time hearing about NCSAM, keep reading to learn more about this annual event and what it entitles.
What Is NCSAM?
Held annually throughout the month of October, NCSAM is a collaborative event between government entities and private businesses in the United States that’s intended to raise awareness for the importance of cybersecurity.
NCSAM has origins dating back to 2004. During this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) joined forces with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to declare the month of October as NCSAM. The two organizations explained that consumers and businesses should closely assess their cybersecurity strategy in October to better protect themselves from common cyber threats like malware, viruses and data breaches.
Theme for 2019 NCSAM
Each year, there’s a different theme for NCSAM that reflects its overall message. In 2009, for example, the theme was “Our shared responsibility,” meaning that everyone should take a proactive role in securing their devices to minimize the risk of cyber threats. So, what’s the theme for this year’s NCSAM?
As a business owner, you might be wondering what you can do to participate in NCSAM. Being that NCSAM is designed to recognize the importance of cybersecurity, you should use this opportunity to take a closer look at your business’s information technology (IT) infrastructure and whether or not it’s secure.
The DHS also offers a NCSAM toolkit that you can download for free here. Consisting of nine pages, it focuses on the year’s theme, which as previously mentioned is “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” The toolkit also offers tips on how to engage employees and professionals with cybersecurity topics.
Of course, you shouldn’t limit your business’s cybersecurity activities strictly to the month of October. While October is NCSAM, cyber threats can strike at any time, regardless of the month. As a result, you should follow the proper cybersecurity processes throughout all months of the year.