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Cybersecurity Essentials

Tuesday May 7, 2024

Several high-profile breaches have demonstrated the growing threat of cyberattacks and the importance of robust cybersecurity measures for businesses of all sizes.

In the current digital landscape, effective cybersecurity is crucial to protect sensitive data, maintain business operations, create and retain customer trust, stay competitive, and comply with current data privacy and security regulations.

Here is an overview of the most common and recent cybersecurity threats:

Malware stands for Malicious Software, an umbrella term for all the software used by cybercriminals to spy on you and access your information. Malware attacks often result in data breaches, where a bad actor breaks into an organization’s network without your knowledge or consent to encrypt or steal data or other information.

Ransomware is a type of malware that accesses and encrypts the data in your computer files, making it unreadable. These locked files are then held hostage by cybercriminals until a ransom is paid. Often hackers will threaten to increase the ransom amount if the ransom is not paid quickly enough. This type of malware can quickly paralyze your entire organization by spreading to all devices and files across your network.  A ransomware attack can be devastating—not just resulting in lost productivity and reputation but often requiring a significant amount of money to pay the ransom.

Spyware is a type of malware that allows hackers to harvest your data and conduct surveillance on your every move. Although spyware can infect both computers and mobile devices, hackers often target mobile devices as it provides better tracking.

Malicious Apps
Malicious programs are often hidden inside an app—allowing cybercriminals to gain access to your internal network—often in the form of a link to an ‘available update’ delivered via a text or email. Once installed, the hacker can control your device and gain access to your personal information and/or your organization’s network.

Flash Drive Attacks
Cybercriminals will sometimes leave flash drives containing malware in common areas outside an office (such as a lobby, parking lot, or restroom) and then wait for a curious or well-meaning employee to take it to their desk and connect it to their computer, unintentionally granting the cybercriminal access to your organization’s network.

A common form of cyberattack, phishing refers to emails that are disguised to look like they are from a trusted contact, internal department, or outside organization with the goal of tricking people into:

  • providing sensitive information
  • transferring money
  • clicking on a malicious link
  • downloading an infected attachment

Spear phishing
Spear phishing refers to a small, focused phishing attack on a specific person or organization. These very targeted attacks tend to be quite successful as they are highly personalized. With spear phishing, the attacker takes the time to research the individual and company, often mining personal information from social media to create a credible story that builds a false sense of trust between them and the victim.

Quishing refers to a phishing attacking using a QR code. Often delivered via email, a common tactic is to invite people to use the QR to access an encrypted voice message. The QR code takes them to a phishing website where they might be asked for login credentials that can be harvested and used to launch further attacks.

Smishing attacks are sent via text (SMS) messages to mobile phones. As with phishing, a message will be received that appears to come from a trusted source. Just as with emails, ‘sender’ information can be spoofed to make the texts appear authentic. Common hooks include telling people that they have been locked out of their bank account or need to reschedule a delivery, and request confidential information or provide a (malicious) link to rectify the situation.

Vishing (or voice phishing) is a phishing phone call. Someone either calls impersonating a trusted source, such as a bank employee or the police, or you receive an automated message leaving instructions to call a trusted source (but at a fake number). With vishing, caller IDs will either be kept private or spoofed to look like legitimate ones. AS with other forms of phishing, the goal is to trick you into giving up valuable information. They may ask you to ‘verify’ certain private details (that the cybercriminals can then use to commit identity fraud) or send money, or encourage you to click on a phishing or smishing link.

A high-profile case from 2019 offers a scary example. AI was used to mimic the voice of a CEO to trick an employee into transferring funds to the wrong bank account. Almost US$250,000 was stolen from a U.K.-based energy company through this scam. The employee said the deepfake sounded exactly like the CEO.

Building a Robust Cybersecurity Framework
The need for a proactive and adaptable approach to cybersecurity has never been greater. As a business leader, you should conduct ongoing and thorough risk assessments and take actionable steps to develop and maintain a robust cybersecurity strategy with comprehensive security controls.

At a minimum, a comprehensive strategy should include:

  • Data backup and encryption
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Employee awareness and training
  • Incident response and disaster recovery plans
  • Continuous monitoring and improvement
  • Diversified security measures
  • Cyber liability coverage

S+C Partners is committed to helping you.
S+C Partners has an established Information Technology practice, with an experienced team dedicated to providing clients with comprehensive data and system security services. Please call us at 905-821-9215 or email us at if you have any questions or require any assistance.


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