How do companies get hacked?

One of the biggest questions we seem to all be asking ourselves is how do companies get hacked. Of course, this isn’t a deep question, but it is thought-provoking. Marco Essomba, a Certified Application Delivery Engineer & Networking and Cybersecurity expert, thinks it’s deeply rooted in the fact that we, as humans, are often the weakest link in complex cybersecurity systems and do make mistakes. If you are a cybersecurity professional or security enthusiast, this article is for you. We’re going to cover the seven reasons why companies get hacked based on his experience working with clients in several sectors including banking, healthcare, insurance, and oil & gas. As we always say, the question is not if your company will get hacked, but when. Planning and ongoing preparation is the ultimate protection against hackers. Let’s look at the most common ways companies get hacked:

7 of the most common ways companies get hacked

1. Humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity

We’re not perfect, even though we wish we were. But, from those mistakes is how we all learn. A great example of this is SpaceX; they have made a ton of mistakes throughout the years, but they then mastered advanced rockets and spacecraft technologies. Even with a team of experts, they still manage to crash a lot of rockets before being successful. The same applies to the cybersecurity world. Mistakes will be made, and it’s not if, but when. When that happens, an attack window opens. A hacker may strike within that gap. Even in the most tightly controlled networks, humans make mistakes. This is inevitable, so the best defense is to implement robust security measures, but also plan and prepare for how to quickly recover after a data breach.

2. Cybersecurity is strong, but expertise is weak

With all the headlines that make the news about companies getting hacked, a question you might be thinking is: why organizations don’t just buy the most secure and advanced solution and be done with security. If things were that simple, fewer data breaches would be happening! Let’s not forget: no one’s perfect, and security systems are designed, implemented, and managed by humans. As long as that remains the case, a flaw may always appear in the chain. Plus, cybersecurity technology is extremely strong, and we are not short of amazing technologies. You only have to look at the many firms providing advanced cybersecurity solutions that deliver robust defenses in many unique ways. Yet, the expertise to configure these sophisticated security products for their most optimum performance remains scarce and very niche. Cybercriminals know about this expertise gap and are exploiting it to their advantage.

3. Hackers have the edge

Cybercriminals do what they do for a host of different reasons including: fun, money, government and industrial espionage, political reasons, or anything else that sparks their interest. Remember, they really only have to find one flaw in a system, but it leaves security administrators scrambling to patch and protect against any and all flaws. How do hackers hack big companies? With enough patience and will, even the most secure system can be compromised by dedicated cybercriminals with expertise. What really matters is how fast a company can react to security flaws, patch holes, learn, respond, train, and continue to strengthen security measures and ongoing processes against cyberattacks.

4. Hacking pays

Cybercriminals are moving to the ‘digital battlefield’. It makes sense since cybercrime appears to be transparent, less risky, and the chance of being caught seems remote (plus, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home!). Hacks, data breaches, and ransomware attacks are flooding news outlets daily. Online crime is seamless, it’s cyber, and it’s often untraceable. Reasons for hacking may vary, but it's no wonder why this is becoming a safer alternative for traditional criminals.

5. Humans fall asleep on the cyber battlefield

Unless processes are put in place to constantly review security systems, improve products, learn from failures, and keep administrators and staff trained, the cybersecurity defenses in any organization will remain weak against Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs).

6. Technology moves fast, and the pace is relentless

With technology moving at lightning speed, it is not surprising that humans can’t keep up with cyberattacks. Perhaps we should let the machines with Artificial Intelligence (AI) take over cybersecurity administration and let them enforce security – and take humans out of the equation? A bit extreme of course, but it’s important to point out that we can all talk to our phones, TVs, and even ovens now. For one, machines can follow rules flawlessly and keep up with the pace of cyberattacks, as well as adapt much more quickly than humans can. They won’t fall asleep in the cyber battlefield, and may prove to be less sloppy than humans at maintaining security standards and processes. But there is still a long way to go before we can automatically defend organizations against cybercriminals without any human intervention.

7. In cyberspace, you only know what you know

The challenge of cyber is the ghost-like transactions that happen faster than humans can cope with. What is really happening in your network may be a mystery. But with security analytics, knowing what you should know is good. But knowing what you don’t know is better.

Protect your company from hacking by investing in cybersecurity platforms

Cover your bases (and protect your data) by vetting your cybersecurity posture and invest in software that’s equipped with exactly what your company needs.  A large gap that is frequently found is the relationship between companies and their vendors.