Botnets: A Growing Threat Against Data Security
Most of us have felt the sting of a malware attack, be it a virus, a worm or some ransomware taking your computer hostage. But if you’ve taken the time to research and invest in quality data security tools like anti-malware and data backups, you’ll know that good triumphs over evil in this epic saga.
Yep, Cybercrime Is Still On the Rise
Last year alone, the ten worst-affected states in the US suffered losses of more than 560 million dollars (US). California tops the list 195 million dollars and Florida at 94 million. In the same year, the Ponemon Institute (HP) showed record highs – up 19% from previous years – in the cost of cybercrime on businesses across the US. Financial services were worst affected, followed by energy and utilities, and defense and aerospace.
Addressing the Botnet Plague
Since botnets require several machines working in tandem to infiltrate and bombard the targeted system, and are entirely dependent on a compromised network, your first line of defense has to be securing that which exposes your company to the Internet. In a “Statement Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism” in 2011, the FBI warned against the “booming business of botnets” and their use by “criminals” and “cyber terrorists”.
A recent DDoS attack in Ireland targeted their National Lottery whereby the website and ticket machines were brought to a halt. This disrupted trading but fortunately Irish National Lottery’s statement allayed fears that confidential information had been affected.
The scary part is that this can happen to anyone. “The availability of ‘DDoS as a service’ and large-scale botnets for hire makes it relatively easy to launch an attack that can even disrupt the operations of large, robust public websites that are designed to handle high traffic volumes,” said Mark Chaplain, VP EMEA for Ixia, experts in software security solutions.
1. Secure Your Network
At the ACM Conference on computer and communications security, it was recommended that, since botnets often use free DNS hosting services, disabling such services will prevent communication within the botnet, thereby crippling it.
Failing that, there is software that focusses specifically on combating botnet attacks. A quick search on Google will show the most popular ones. Norton, one such software provider, recommends some of these important measures one can implement over-and-above anti-botnet software:
- Increase the security settings on your browser.
- Limit your user rights when online.
- Never click on attachments unless you can verify the source.
- Install security updates for your operating system.
2. Secure Your Data
Backing up your data is the penultimate protection against a data security breach. Bear in mind that the bulk of the cost associated with cybercrime is due to data loss, 42% in fact. Having a disaster recovery plan that includes on-site or cloud backups is no longer deemed a luxury when it comes to business risk mitigation. These data security measures could be the only thing that allows you to recover critical business systems to an operational state and save your business from financial ruin.
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