The cyber threat landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, with cybercriminals adopting more advanced technology and using it to launch more advanced attacks. Incidents that were considered headline news just a few years ago – like denial of service attacks and theft of credit card information are now routine, and the pool of potential targets has grown significantly. Today, everything from medical records to airline reward miles are targets for theft. Any data that can be profited off of is fair game to a hacker.
The problem with these incidents isn’t the uptick in activity itself, but the difficulty in detecting a breach. Cyber criminals have gotten excellent at masking their presence once they’ve made their way inside your systems. Where infections and intrusions once loudly announced themselves with pop-ups or brought your computer’s operations to a grinding halt, today’s hackers are a little more subtle. Now, it takes a business an average of 99 days to detect a breach, and a hacker can do a lot of damage in that span of time.
Hackers are spending weeks, months or even years lurking inside of systems in search of critical data, and they’re not just looking to steal it. A worrying trend with these attacks is seeing hackers altering that data, changing a column here and there without detection. For something like a healthcare practice, this means that not only is someone selling your patient’s confidential data for profit, but they’re also altering those records – which can lead to a misdiagnosis that can put a patient’s life at risk.
At survey of 70 professional hackers conducted in 2016 at Defcon – the global hacking and security conference – found that up to 88% said they could get inside a targeted system within 12 hours. 81% said they could spot and snatch valuable data within that same 12 hour span, and stay undetected for up to 100 days afterwards. Countermeasures such as firewalls and antiviruses were rarely much of a hindrance for them, and endpoint security measures were much more effective at keeping them out.
But the most concerning piece of information the survey uncovered is the fact that most hackers change up their attack method for each target, which limits the effectiveness of defenses based on known files and attacks. This means that businesses whose security focuses on signatures and perimeter defenses need to reevaluate their approach to cyber security.
This is where artificial intelligence comes in. Security based on advanced algorithms that can adapt and learn creates a system that can become familiar with the typical patterns associated with each user and device, detecting anomalies in those patterns quickly.
U.K.-based company Darktrace has developed technology based on the human immune system – detecting and responding to foreign threats without compromising your business’ key operations and functions. Threats that would normally be able to hide their presence are instead found and neutralized, buying IT personnel time to get ahead of the situation. Like a digital antibody, the program can slow down or even stop compromised connections or devices within a network.
Investing in artificial intelligence technology is critical, as machines can respond much more quickly to the way these attacks are mutating. Experts are also suggesting that businesses should seriously consider investing in cyber-intelligence. Much like it’s real-world counterpart, which is used to shut down criminal networks that run human trafficking rings or to stop terror attacks, cyber-intelligence can uncover much-needed information about the types of threats that are out there and how the people behind them operate.
Cyber-intelligence can help inform the types of security you choose to invest in, allowing your business to take a surgical strike approach instead of sinking money into every security measure out there and hoping for the best. The truth is, you will experience a breach at some point. Having the resources to detect and respond to that breach is crucial.
With all this talk about machine learning and cyber-intelligence, it’s important not to overlook another key component of your cyber security measures – your staff. Educating employees on the dangers of phishing scams and other cyber threats can stop malware from getting inside your systems. The professional hackers surveyed at Defcon can attest to how effective the right training can be. When your employees know what to look for, they’re able to act as your first line of defense.
The right combination of people, processes, and technologies will ultimately be the solution needed to tackle today’s complex cyber security landscape. A multi-layered approach is what will keep your business secure.
To learn more about the steps you can take to protect your business against today’s cyber threats, contact Intivix at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 543 1033 . We’re the cyber security experts businesses in San Francisco trust.