We might presume that like most businesses nowadays, you rely heavily on internet-based solutions to reach out to clients. See, we guessed it right! However, we also need to remind you that any digital tool has the potential to expose your business to cyber risks. While digital payment systems have enhanced financial inclusion and enhanced transparency, they have also increased security risks and data breaches.

Hacking is one type of cyber threat we will discuss in this article today. Utilizing easy techniques, a hacker can learn about your critical company information that you may not want to expose. It only takes one of your employees to click on a seemingly harmless link in an email to download a malicious application. It goes without saying that this could be detrimental to your business. Therefore, knowing about some common hacking techniques could come in handy for the safety of your business. The following sections will list some commonly used hacking techniques that you and your employees should be aware of and avoid at all costs.

Before proceeding to the hacking techniques, let’s first get to know what hacking is all about.

What do we mean by hacking?

Hacking is the process of gaining unauthorised access to a smartphone, tablet, computer, or network system by exploiting vulnerabilities in them. Hackers utilise advanced computer and coding skills to exploit and obtain access to the victim's system without their awareness, gaining access to a wealth of personal information. Such information may include personal and financial data protected by passwords.

However, not all hackers use their expertise to exploit systems or get access to the victim's system. Rather, they use their skills to protect confidential information from being stolen and are known in the hacker fraternity as Ethical Hackers or white hat hackers. Some hackers utilise their knowledge for wealth, vengeance, or simply for enjoyment. Your business should protect itself from this second type of hacker and we will discuss some techniques used by them in our next section.

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Some common hacking techniques

  1. Phishing

Phishing is a hacking technique in which a hacker replicates the most frequently visited websites and traps the victim by providing a fake link. When combined with social engineering, it becomes one of the most prevalent and lethal attack vectors.

When the victim attempts to log in or enters data, the hacker obtains the target victim's confidential information by employing the trojan running on the bogus site. Hackers that targeted the "Fappening" scandal, which featured multiple Hollywood female celebrities, used phishing via iCloud and Gmail accounts.

Usually, to lure you into their trap, hackers may-

• Request that you confirm certain personal details.

• Claim that there is an issue with your account or billing information.

• Include a bogus invoice

• Provide you with freebies

• Inform you if you are qualified for a statutory refund.

• Notify you that someone has attempted to log into your website and that you should update your credentials.

• Sent through one of your friends with a suspicious link

To protect your business from phishing, you may consider the following-

  • Never click on any links in emails unless you were expecting them
  • Before you click on a link or download a file attached to an email, always confirm its authenticity with the sender.
  • Always double-check the email address of the sender. This will help you recognize a phishing email.

2. Bait and switch attack

An attacker can purchase advertising space on websites using the Bait and Switch hacking technique. When a consumer clicks on the ad, he may be sent to a page infected with malware. This allows the attacker to install malware or adware on your machine. The advertisements and download links displayed in this manner are quite appealing and consumers are expected to click on them. The hacker can execute a malicious programme that the user believes to be genuine. The hacker gains unprivileged access to your computer after you install the malicious programme on it.

3. Keylogger

A keylogger is simply software that records key sequences and saves keystrokes from your keyboard to a file on your computer. These log files may contain some useful and sensitive user data, such as account information and various passwords. Check your computer for this type of theft on a regular basis using security tools. Also, it is a good idea to utilize a virtual keyboard while performing transactions, if you have any doubts during login. Installing effective antivirus software that examines your system for viruses and other threats on your computer is always a good practice. Also, ensure your Windows firewall is enabled for added security, and do not reply to fraudulent e-mails or offers. Install software from a trustworthy and secure software vendor and avoid conducting transactions or exchanging sensitive data over public Wi-Fi networks.

4. Denial of Service (DoS\DDoS) Attacks

DDoS is not something you may put into the category of a typical cyber-attack. We can call it a hack, even though it is not a typical hacking attack either. DDoS attacks are launched by hackers, but they do not infiltrate your system with software, viruses or malware. DDoS attacks are launched by hackers, but they do not infiltrate your system with software. Instead, they flood your networks or server with bogus traffic that your system cannot handle, preventing it from responding to legitimate user requests. Large botnets (a tool consisting of a network of connected devices infected with malicious software) are used by attackers. This is to send repeated signals to your server, rendering your website inaccessible. They fully restrict your system from outside traffic. As a result, your company's ability to provide services to clients is hampered, and your business operations are disrupted.

If you are not able to recognize the problem, this attack might cause significant financial damage to your business. Extended downtime can result in lost revenue, as well as a loss of client trust. this is more so if you can't figure out what caused the problem and believe your website is simply offline. Let us assume you lack effective defense and recovery systems. Then, criminals may attempt to extort money from you by launching a modest DDoS attack to infiltrate your system and then threatening to launch a ransomware attack.

5. Cookie theft

Cookies in our browsers save personal information such as browsing history, usernames, and passwords for the websites we visit. Once the hacker has access to your cookie, he can even log in on your behalf, using a browser. The manipulation of a user's IP packets to traverse through the attacker's system is a typical approach for carrying out such attacks.

This attack, also known as SideJacking or Session Hijacking, is simple to execute if the user does not use SSL (HTTPS) for the entire session. It is critical for you to encrypt the connections for websites where you enter your password and banking.

6. Virus & Trojans

Viruses and Trojans are harmful software programmes that infiltrate the victim's system and continue to convey the victim's data to the hacker. They can also lock your files, display fraudulent advertisements, redirect traffic, monitor your data or spread to all computers on your network.

7. Fake WAP

A hacker can use software to impersonate a Wireless Access Point (WAP) just for fun. This WAP links to the official WAP for public places. A hacker can access your data once you connect to the bogus WAP.

It is one of the simpler hacks to pull off and it requires only basic software and a wireless network to execute. Anyone can disguise their WAP as something legitimate, such as "Mumbai Airport WiFi" or " Barista WiFi" and begin eavesdropping on you. Using a good VPN service is one of the best methods to protect yourself from such threats.

8. Waterhole attacks

If you watch Discovery or National Geographic, you will be able to relate to the waterhole attacks. If the source of a river is poisoned, the entire stretch of animals will be affected throughout the summer. To 'poison' a location, the hacker, in case of a cyber attack, targets the victim's most accessible physical point. Hackers often target the most frequently visited physical area to attack the victim. That point could be a coffee shop or anything else.

Once the hacker knows your timings, he or she can employ this form of attack to construct a bogus Wi-Fi access point. They can use this to change your most viewed website to redirect people to you in order to obtain your personal information. Because this attack gathers information on a user from a specified location, identifying the attacker becomes even more difficult. Following basic security procedures and keeping your software/OS updated are two of the best methods to protect yourself from such hacking attempts.

How Can Cyber Liability Helps Small Businesses

How can cyber liability insurance help small businesses?

Cyber liability insurance is a coverage that helps businesses and individuals reduce their financial risk exposure in case of a cyber attack. It does so by covering the costs of the damage and recovery caused by a data breach, a ransomware attack, or a cyber security incident. It also covers the costs of fines for noncompliance, crisis communications, lawsuits, forensics, investigations, customer refunds, and even extortion payments.

Until recently, cyber liability insurance was thought to be a separate liability policy that could be added to your regular business insurance. Traditional insurance coverage was meant to cover physical asset breaches or business interruptions caused by cyber intrusions. However, cyber liability insurance has recently emerged as a specialized insurance coverage that may now cover many forms of losses resulting from different cyber-attacks and threats. Businesses have begun to recognize the importance of cyber liability insurance and are now willing to invest extensively in it.

In the year 2021, cyber attacks increased by 50% as compared to 2020. Malware and ransomware attacks, compromised credentials, phishing, cloud misconfiguration, corporate email penetration, and vulnerability in third-party software were the most common threats in 2021. The evolution of cyber attacks is also constantly changing. Its scope has expanded to include supply chain attacks and double/triple extortion. As cybercriminals continue to exploit new vulnerabilities, the threat of cyber-attacks appears to be increasing, at least for the time being.

In the Indian context as well, cases of online scams through ad-fishing, emails and malware are on the rise. As digital payments got extended to every nook and cranny of India during and after the Covid-19 outbreak, there was an exponential leap in such occurrences. This has made cyber security breaches a major reason for concern for organisations, resulting in a surge in demand for cyber liability insurance in India. If you are running a business and have access to the personal information of your users/customers, data security should be one of your top priorities. Given all that has been discussed thus far, you should consider purchasing a cyber liability insurance policy, if you have not already done so.

The footnote:

We hope the discussion above will help you understand what hacking is and some common techniques hackers may use to disrupt your business. We have also discussed how cyber liability insurance may help you, should your business come under a cyber threat tomorrow.