Digitization in any field also opens doors for cybercriminals. With digitization, many sectors that previously did not suffer from cybercrime have fallen victim to it. Read in our article what kind of companies and institutions are now in the sights of cybercriminals and what can be done to fight criminals.
Which fields are of interest to hackers and cybercriminals?
The healthcare and education sectors have often been the targets of various online attacks. However, the situation is changing, and researchers have found that security service providers, the automotive industry, various manufacturing industries, telecommunications companies, and governments are now suffering from ransomware.
Different industries have especially faced new kinds of threats. This applies to, for example, the automotive industry and agriculture – sectors with which we are not used to associating news about cyberattacks.
For instance, agriculture nowadays relies significantly on new technology, and modern farms use many Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected to the network. There are many security risks associated with IoT devices, and their protection is often inadequate. Cybercriminals are attracted to these sectors because they are not prepared for attacks.
During the pandemic, the hackers’ attention was focused on remote working. Those who worked at home needed to learn how to protect their tools and connection well enough, which offered an interesting playing field for cybercriminals. After the pandemic, working methods will be reorganized, and even in this situation, new opportunities may be provided to cyber criminals.
In addition, networked devices intended for consumers have been the target of cybercriminals’ interests. Such devices, such as IoT devices in the kitchen, have become more common, and as in agriculture, they are also poorly protected in households.
In short, cybercriminals are now targeting sectors that were previously fairly well protected, corporate networks (also taking advantage of the lack of protection of those working at home), and also home network devices.
Ransomware is making cybercriminals rich
Ransomware works in a way that prevents access to tools or files necessary for the victim’s work or completely prevents the use of devices. For example, a ransomware program can lock a computer, and the next thing the user sees is a message that they have to pay to get their device back in use. Blackmail can also be practiced by taking over valuable or sensitive information for a company or person.
A new mode of operation has also been observed. In exchange for money, cybercriminals tell how they gained access to a company’s or other entity’s network. Through this kind of “consulting,” cybercriminals may receive large sums of money: Organizations want information about the vulnerabilities of their networks.
How can you protect yourself from online crime and ransomware?
Forms of online crime are constantly evolving – but so is the software that protects against them. Read below what different industries can do to protect themselves from cyberattacks. The means are often the same, even if there are otherwise significant differences between the fields.
Using a VPN protects network traffic
Using a VPN, meaning a virtual private network, is an important step in protecting networks – whether it’s companies or individuals.
What is a VPN? Briefly explained, a VPN directs all network traffic through an encrypted tunnel. This way, for example, communications cannot be intercepted.
In addition, the VPN changes the IP address of the user of the VPN connection. A standard IP address identifies the user’s device and gives, for example, information about its location. When using a VPN, the IP address of the VPN server to which the connection is established is shown as the IP address. Thousands of people use this same server, and the user can choose a location from many different countries. In this way, obtaining information about an individual user with the help of an IP address is no longer possible.
A VPN can be used to protect the connections of both companies and remote workers.
How should you choose a VPN?
Plenty of VPNs are available, and there are significant differences in security between them. It is worth choosing a paid, high-quality service and carefully familiarizing yourself with the features of the services and how users’ privacy is protected. Some companies even offer additional features. For example, NordVPN has a feature called Threat Protection, which is able to help you fight malicious content, blocks your ads and unsafe websites.
Don’t forget your antivirus
In addition to a VPN, a high-quality antivirus helps protect devices, data, and networks: They intervene in the game if the user is about to download a dangerous file and reports dangerous websites. They are also helpful in removing viruses. It is also worth taking time to choose an antivirus program, as their features vary.
Training employees is very important
Take care of employees’ online skills. A key part of this kind of know-how is identifying various threats and taking care of security. Employees should be told, for example, about the following:
- Phishing messages. Phishing refers to messages with the purpose of getting the recipient to give their information or download malware. The messages are disguised as safe and often make the user feel that they must act quickly. The messages may lead to dangerous websites or entice you to send private information.
- Strong passwords. Passwords play a significant role in maintaining information security. Strong passwords are easiest to create with a password management program, and it’s also a good idea to keep them in such a program.
- Updates. Program updates often include security-enhancing innovations. Outdated programs are indeed a security risk.
In addition, employees should be informed about the industry’s characteristics regarding network security. It is also important to tell them how to report, for example, suspicious messages or other risks – and how to act if you think you have detected a possible cyber attack or attempted attack.
It is also important to remember that fighting online crime is not only the responsibility of companies and individuals. The authorities have tried to improve their expertise related to cybercrime, and more resources are currently being used to identify and combat cyberattacks. An important role is also played by international, versatile cooperation, which combines the expertise and knowledge of different parties.
In the future, automatic detection of attacks and threats will play an important role. Artificial intelligence plays a significant role here. In addition, continuous, effective cyber attack training is key in various industries. It can be offered to citizens in many forms.