Understanding How Hackers Steal Business Data in 2021

Understanding How Hackers Steal Business Data in 2021

Have you ever thought about what makes an organization’s data so attractive that hackers want to steal it? Every day we see more and more small and mid-size organizations falling victim to cyber-attacks, causing reputation damage, financial disaster, and even bankruptcy. 

The common theme for each hack or break: data is worth money. From a cyber-attack, hackers can collect social security numbers from employees or customers, financial data from clients, confidential product information (to use it as a way to ask for ransom or sell it to a competitor), corporate data (to access employees´ account, run scams using their name), and more.  

But how are they doing all this in 2021? Aren’t security measures being effective?  

Most Common Ways of Stealing Business Data for 2021

As cybersecurity professionals dedicate their time to protect the organizations they work for from cyber-attacks, hackers are spending time creating and testing new ways to victimize peopleAnd, 2020 wasn’t the exception. We saw how they used the COVID-19 pandemic on emails and phishing attacks to create more victims. 

Social Engineering Attacks

One of the biggest risks in cybersecurity is the human factor. Hackers are well aware of this, and take advantage of the fact that not everyone has good cybersecurity hygiene. Social engineering attacks are those that depend on human interaction. Hackers trick their victims into making security mistakes, such as clicking a link, downloading a file, or sharing sensitive information, giving them the opportunity to attack. 

There are different social engineering attacks, the most common ones are phishing (an email with a malicious link or file containing the malware), pretexting (impersonating an employee, boss, or vendor to gather sensitive information), and baiting (enticing the victim with an exciting offer in a website, email, etc.). 

During 2020 and pandemic days we saw how phishing emails increased. In fact, Symantec reported that phishing attacks occurred in 1 of every 4,200 emails. This number had been decreasing over the past few years, but with the pandemic the trend revertedmaking  phishing responsible for more than 80% of reported security incidents.  

Compromising Internet-Facing Infrastructures

With remote work being the new normal, organizations are facing a new problem: cybercriminals are finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in servers and exposed connections. Any computer, or system that has an IP address is at risk. 

In this type of attack, hackers look for internet-facing services and connections to enter an organization remotely. Once they gain access, they take down any security measures and deploy threats to infiltrate and compromise other devices connected to that network in order to gain access to sensitive data. On top of that, Varonis reports that on average, 17% of all sensitive files of an organization are accessible to all employees. This means that a hacker does not need to target someone from a management role to get the information they want, once they are in they can get it from other employees. This is how risky it is to have a criminal enter into your organization´s network. 

Exploiting System Administration Tools 

We have seen over the past few years how hackers are taking advantage of legitimate administration tools to run harmful software into their target computer or system. The use of this hacking technique is on the rise as everyday there are more and more IT systems interconnected, making it easier for hackers to access a wider range of toolsorganizations´ systems, and reduce their chances of being detected. 

How does this happen? Hackers use legitimate admin tools already installed in their target´s computer to achieve their goal. The key part here is that as these are already installed, and in use in the systems, which means that the organization usually does not notice the infection in their system until after the damage has been done. Hackers can go undercover for as long as they want while gathering information about corporate networks, to then carry out their malicious action.  

Day to day hackers are looking for even the smallest vulnerability to get into their target’s system, earn access to sensitive data and then use it in their favor. A great way to prevent all this from happening is having constant cybersecurity training for employees, penetration and vulnerability testing, restricting staff privileges and having a secure work from home policy.