News about cyber attacks today reaches us from everywhere. Differently from what the common opinion may be, most of these attacks do not succeed by themselves but are actually triggered by an unintended action of unaware users. Acting on training is not enough to stop this trend: tools like a filter solutions software can grant you better protection.
1. The relevance of human error in data breaches
As reported by the ThreatPost in February 2022, “nearly all successful breaches stem from human error”. This claim stems from the results of a research carried out by the University of Stanford in 2020. The report that resulted from this study highlights how in 9 cases out of 10 data breaches are caused by users.
The issue, of course, is not new but recently it has been more widely documented. In 2021 IBM conducted the most wide-reaching study to date into the causes and triggers of cyber violations, the IBM Cyber Security Intelligence Index Report. The study interested over 130 countries in the world and thousands of companies and entities that had been the victims of attacks up to that moment.
In line with what Stanford University had previously found, IBM’s study reported that “Human error was a major contributing cause in 95% of all breaches”. Given these results, it is of course strategic to act on the “human part”, meaning training employees and Internet users in general on the hidden perils of the net.
But increasing people’s awareness may not be enough. Indeed, as we have recently discussed in this post, cyber attacks, especially the ones aimed at specific targets, are becoming more and more sophisticated and attackers do a great job in the pre-attack phase, while they study their victims.
This is why seeking the help of technology itself is important. Companies now have the opportunity to install a filter solutions software that helps them curb the chances of being the victim of the next cyber attack.
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2. An ever more connected life
The feeling of “never being completely off” has become part of our lives. The pandemic has definitely played a role in this. Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were already connected for most of the day and night. But this “we” usually started in secondary school and went on until the end of employment. People in other age groups were of course also connected, but to a lesser degree.
The pandemic has changed this:
» On the one hand, online meetings and sessions became the rule for everybody, from kids in kindergarten to the elderly wishing to see their relatives;
» On the other, people who were already “heavy Internet users” have increased even further the time they spend online.
Indeed, in September 2020 Forbes reported that according to a study conducted on 10,000 people in five different countries, the consumption of online contents during the first months of the pandemic had soared, to the point that the average result was a doubling of the time spent online.
In line with this and with the two changes highlighted above, there were two main consequences:
» On the one hand, a huge number of inexperienced users suddenly appeared online: this meant that some great new targets were finally available for the hackers, targets who were often uninformed or unaware about the dangers of the Internet;
» On the other, the increased connection time of more experienced users meant attackers had higher chances of attacking them and also of finding them tired or exhausted but still connected and more prone to make a mistake.
Finally, employees and households had to quickly find more devices that could connect to the Internet, since entire families had to make use of the net for work, classes and appointments. This meant that a whole new range of devices were suddenly connected to the Internet, often not as protected as the ones that families were already accustomed to using.
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3. The increased need for protection
Our discussion so far has consistently pointed in one and only one direction: the increased need for Internet protection.
3.1 Before Covid-19
It was them, indeed, who used to be the main target of cyber attacks, like ransomware attacks that aimed to steal company data and information in order to make money from them either by selling them to interested buyers or by extorting money from their victims in order to normalize the situation.
For more information on ransomware attacks, please see our dedicated article.
Attacks to individuals outside the business world, like households, were fewer and less frequent. Usually, they had the form of phishing attacks, hence large-scale attacks carried out without a specific target in mind and that aimed to reach as many users as possible, hoping that some “fish” will actually get caught in the net.
3.2 After the outbreak of Covid-19
Since the pandemic started, however, the number of phishing attacks has increased enormously. The F5’s Phishing and Fraud Report published in November 2020 highlighted that at the height of the pandemic phishing attacks soared by a staggering 220% compared to the yearly average.
And the attacks grew not only towards companies and organizations, but also, and especially, towards households, students and independent users. The reason for this is that the increase in remote working meant that homes became the new point from where employees started connecting to the company network.
The use of VPN connections, indeed, increased enormously during the pandemic. This phenomenon did not go unnoticed by hackers and cyber criminals, who recognized in it the opportunity to enter company networks without directly targeting companies.
Indeed, since employees were working from home using an Internet connection shared by all the family members, attackers understood that they could:
» Target the more inexperienced Internet users in the family, like kids, students or the elderly, with captivating phishing attempts;
» Once a “fish” fell into the net, access the general household Internet network and reach the parent’s computer;
» Through the VPN used by the parent to connect to the company network, gain access to the company network and infiltrate it.
This is why, as highlighted also by Deloitte in a well-articulated exposé on the subject, the “increase in remote working calls for a greater focus on cybersecurity, because of the greater exposure to cyber risk”.
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4. Beyond data thefts: legal implications
The article by Deloitte cited above stresses an important point:
» The Coronavirus pandemic accelerated the processes of digital transformation within companies;
» As a consequence, cyber risks became an even major concern on the companies’ agendas;
» The issues to be taken into consideration do only revolve around the importance of the data being stolen, but there are also operational, legal and compliance implications that need to be addressed.
The use of private, home networks for work is something new for many companies, and very few of them have legal frameworks establishing the rules for such connections, if they can impose any rules on private matters.
Therefore, sensitizing employees about the risks involved in using the personal network for business purposes is essential, as well as making them aware about the need to protect their home network using a filter solutions software. This has a double benefit:
» It makes remote work safer for companies;
» It makes the home network safer for all the family members.
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5. FlashStart: your Internet made safe, everywhere
FlashStart is a filter solutions software that helps you solve the “human error” problem and ensure your company and home are safe from cyber attacks.
The FlashStart filter solutions software can be set up both at the router level and at the end-point level. With the first option, you will ensure that all the devices connected to the company or home Internet network are constantly controlled. The filter, indeed, acts as a checkpoint for threats and controls all the DNS requests coming and going from the connected devices.
The second option, on the other hand, means that also devices that are not connected to the home or company network can navigate safely online. Indeed, with the ClientShield application, FlashStart can grant protection of the devices everywhere they are. So if your employees are visiting a customer out of town or if they decide to go work in a café or rent a spot in a common working area, they can do it without worrying about the security implications.
You can activate the FlashStart® Cloud protection on any sort of Router and Firewall to secure desktop and mobile devices and IoT devices on local networks.