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Check Point: Biggest cyber security threats to businesses

Tue 12 Nov 2013
FYI, this story is more than a year old

As we round out our 2013 business and IT plans, cyber criminals are resolving to implement increasingly sophisticated threats targeting specific computer systems and organisations big and small.

In the past year, businesses have seen several serious hacks and breaches.

As the arms race between attackers and businesses continues to evolve in 2013, IT departments and security professionals will need to stay on top of the changing tactics and approaches used by criminal hackers in order to protect their organisations.

Below are Check Point's top resolutions and the greatest security threats to businesses:

Social Engineering

This begins with focusing on a tried-and-true blackhat tactic in both the physical and digital worlds - social engineering.

Before the computer age, this meant sneaking one's way past a company's defences with the gift of gab as opposed to a cleverly-worded email. Now social engineering has moved onto social networks, including Facebook and LinkedIn.

Attackers are increasing their use of social engineering, which goes beyond calling targeted employees and trying to trick them into giving up information.

In years past, they might call a receptionist and ask to be transferred to a targeted employee so that the call appears to be coming from within the enterprise if caller ID is being used.

However, such tactics aren't need if the details the cyber criminal is looking for are already posted on social networks.

After all, social networks are about connecting people, and a convincing-looking profile of a company or person followed by a friend or connection request can be enough to get a social engineering scam rolling.


Being aware of social engineering is important, of course, because it can be the precursor for a sophisticated attack meant to breach the wall of your organisation.

The intention behind Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) attacks is to gain access ti a network and steak information quietly. They take a low-and-slow approach that often makes them difficult to detect, giving them a high likelihood of success.

Additionally, APTs need not always target well-known programs, such as Microsoft Word; they may also target other vectors, such as embedded systems. In a world where a growing number of devices have Internet protocol addresses, building security into these systems has never been more important.

APTs will continue as governments and other well-funded organisations looks to cyber-space to conduct their espionage. In fact, APT attacks are running as we speak so look out for those anomalies in your network traffic.

Internal threats

But some of the most dangerous attacks come from the inside. These attacks can be the most devastating, due to the amount of damage a privileged user can do and the data they can access.

In a study funded by the US Department of Homeland Security, the CERT Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute and the US Secret Service, researchers found malicious insiders within the financial industry typically get away with their fraud for nearly 32 months before being detected.

Trust, as they say, is a precious commodity - but too much trust can leave you vulnerable.


The issue if trust comes into play in the mobile world as well, with many businesses struggling to come up with the right mix of technologies and policies to hop aboard the BYOD trend.

Users are increasingly using their devices as they would their PCs, and by doing so are opening themselves up to web-based attacks the same as they would if they were operating a desktop computer.

For attackers, it is likely as well that there will be more attempts to circumvent the app review and detection mechanisms mobiles vendors use to guard their app markets.

All this means that the flood of iPhones, Google Android phones and other devices making their way into the workplace are opening up another potential gateway for attackers that needs to be secured.

Think about it - your smartphone has a camera. It has a microphone. It can record conversations. Add these features ti the ability to access your corporate network, and you have the ideal stepladder to climb the walls we are talking about.

Cloud Security

BYOD is not the only thing changing the walls corporations must build around critical data however. There is also this little trend called cloud computing.

With more companies putting more information in public cloud services, those services become juicy targets, and can represent a single point of failure four the enterprise. For businesses, this means that security must continue to be an important part of the conversation they have with cloud providers, and the needs of the business should be made clear.

By Tomer Teller - Security Evangelist and Researcher at Check Point Software Technologies

An international provider of software and combined hardware and software products for IT security, Check Point is a leader in network security software, firewall solutions, VPN solutions, endpoint security, and security management.

For more information on Check Point's array of security solutions, click here

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