Dealing with common cyber attacks

Cyber security - Has It Clicked?

8 Oct 2015

From DDOS to Botnet and malware to ransomware – there are a whole host of ways cyber criminals can attack your business.

And, with almost every organisation now relying on the internet to some extent - be it for communications, transactions, or data access – it is vital to take steps to protect it.

This month, as part of Humberside Police’s Cyber Security – Has It Clicked? Campaign, the force’s cyber crime experts are providing free help and guidance for firms of all sizes.

Det Insp Rich Osgerby said: “One of the key things for any business to do is to have a basic understanding of the most common types of attack and have a plan in place as to how to deal with it – whether that’s through in-house teams or by outsourcing to specialist firms.”

Among the most common forms of attack are:

DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks – which leave websites unable to service legitimate requests - are becoming increasingly common.

It’s not a form of hacking, but an orchestrated overload of visitors to your site, which swamps your web structure and prevents legitimate users from accessing it.

The motivation for such attacks can be financial – through blackmail or extortion - or to try and negatively affect your reputation. If you have reason to believe you will be targeted by a DDoS attack, we recommend you consult a protection specialist.

Even if you don’t believe you’re at risk from a DDoS attack, make sure you have hosting facilities in place to handle unexpected, large volumes of website hits.

Botnet – This is an abbreviation of robot network and is often utilised in orchestrating DDoS attacks. It refers to a network of computers which are controlled by criminals, without the permission or knowledge of their owners. They are then used to distribute spam emails, spread viruses, commit fraud and identity theft or attack computers.

Associated spyware can also give criminals access to your data and transactions. You can sometimes tell if a computer has been infected if it is running slowly. If you’re concerned, perform network scans for malware or consult an IT professional.

Computers can become infected in a variety of ways:

Opening email attachments which contain malware.
Visiting websites infected with malware – often via malicious links in emails or social networking posts.
Via other infected machines within the same network.

Det Insp Osgerby added: “To protect yourself, make sure you choose reputable internet security software and that it’s always updates and switched on.

“Don’t open any files or click on links in emails or social media posts from unknown or suspicious sources.

“Take care when using USB connected devices, such as memory sticks, as they are common malware carriers and beware of downloading free software.”

Malware – This is the term given to software designed to gain unauthorised access to computers and other connected devices, to disrupt their normal operation or gather sensitive information.

This can lead to identity theft, fraud, the theft or deletion of data, non-compliance with data protection rules or causing your computer to run so slowly it becomes unusable.

Malware can become installed in much the same way as a botnet infection, so one of the most important means of protecting yourself is to keep your anti-virus and anti-malware software up to date.

Some packages also scan USB connected devices, to protect you from accidentally uploading malicious software. However, this will not protect you against spam or hackers trying to break into your computer over the internet.

Ransomware – This is a specific form of malware that gives criminals the ability to remotely lock your computer and display a pop-up window informing you that it will not be unlocked until a sum of money is paid.

In some cases, the criminal may also make a pornographic image or accusation of a criminal offence appear on the locked screen, in the hope the user will pay the ransom rather than seek help.

To detect and remove ransomware, run a full system scan with an appropriate and up to date security solution.

If a computer has been locked, seek professional advice. However, it may be that may never be able to access your files again, so make sure you back up all important data on an isolated system.

Click here for more information on preventing your business from falling foul of cyber attacks.

Make sure you also follow @humberbeat #HPCyberCrime on Twitter and visit the Humberside Police Facebook page.