Hackers Plan for Plunder During Risk-filled Holidays

By Cherie Martin, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager
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It seems as if the holiday or festive season starts earlier every year. I just watched a commercial for a pre-Black Friday sale. While retailers and shoppers prepare for this special time of year, hackers are also coordinating their efforts for more—and bigger—attacks on organizations of all types and sizes.

Starting on Cyber Monday, cyberattacks are expected to spike just as they have for the past few years. Just three years ago, we saw a 20.5% surge in attempted attacks, and that number more than doubled in 2017 to 57.5%. In 2018, attacks were forecast to increase another 60%. The odds are good that cyberattacks will continue their upwards trajectory in 2019.

No one wants to end the year trying to recover from a cyberattack. As threats continue to get more sophisticated and dangerous every year, avoiding an attack requires knowing where you’re vulnerable and the steps you can take to defend your business. One step would be to invest in solutions that are evaluated by leading cyber insurers and designated as effective in reducing cyber risk.

Another step would be to assess vulnerabilities, to start improving your overall security measures. Here’s a quick guide to help you reduce cyber risk.

4 Signs of a Vulnerable Network

  1. Business leaders avoid investing in security solutions because they believe that the business is “too small” to attract a hacker.
  2. Basic security measures, such as embedded policy enforcement firewalls, built-in web content filtering, and plans to support WPA3 and Enhanced Open are not in place.
  3. Connections with corporations and large partners in your supply chain aren’t protected.
  4. You opened up your network to the idea of greater IoT use and cloud-based services.

5 Tips to Avoid a Holiday Cyberattack

Tip #1. Enforce access privileges.

This is the perfect time to implement zero trust, role-based access control. Traditional firewalls that leverage IP-based VLANs for control only become active after a user or device is admitted to the network, leaving an opening for advanced attacks. A safer option is to use identity, traffic attributes and other context to centrally enforce access privileges at the time of an initial connection. This limits the time an attacker has to unleash malware, expand their malware footprint and launch other disruptive activities. You are effectively closing the gap between when a device connects and a policy is enforced.

Tip #2. Detect and respond to attacks with built-in intrusion protection.

Rogue APs or clients, man-in-the-middle attacks, denial-of-service attacks and MAC/SSID spoofing are only a few of the cyberattacks that can hurt your organization. Built-in intrusion protection can identify, classify and locate wireless threats from information collected by the network to block rogues from the network, and keep clients from attaching to rogues. Having this protection resolves issues before they cause damage and gives IT the needed visibility to prevent further attacks.

Tip #3. Manage web access with built-in content filtering.

Preventing users from accessing malicious content is difficult, and keeping up with the ever-expanding list of unsafe Internet sites is almost impossible. A good way to keep your network safe is to choose a solution that includes an easy way to filter, classify and enforce policies by URL, location or IP address. With easy-to-use built-in content filtering, you can feel confident that users are browsing the web safely and not unknowingly opening up the network to an attack.

Tip #4. Use the latest Wi-Fi security standards.

WPA2 Wi-Fi security doesn’t cut it anymore. Security vulnerabilities have been uncovered in WPA2 that expose networks and clients to potential password phishing attacks. Protect yourself from unnecessary risk by ensuring the wireless equipment you choose is certified to support WPA3 for employee or device networks and Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) with Enhanced Open for guest networks.

Tip #5. Adopt cybersecurity solutions that meet the criteria of cyber insurers.

With more than 3,000 vendors, the cybersecurity market is crowded and difficult to navigate. Sure, you can do your own research and evaluations, or you can narrow the field with help from experts. Leading cyber insurers are offering to help you make your decision easier by evaluating cybersecurity products and services and then designating those found effective at reducing cyber risk as safer to use. This first-of-its-kind service released its initial set of designated Cyber Catalyst solutions that cover wired and wireless security, firewalls, email and more.

Learn more about Aruba’s industry-recognized security solutions.