Espionage refers to the process of obtaining or divulging confidential and highly classified information without the owner’s permission. Cyber-espionage thus refers to the use of computer networks and computer devices to wrongfully obtain data belonging to a government or institution to use it to cause harm to the owner. Cyber-espionage has been used to commit crimes against humanity, governments, or organizations by obtain information that gives the enemy an unfair advantage.
Illicitly received data is used to understand an organization’s security networks or gain classified access to either influence or manipulate information without the owner’s permission. Cyber espionage is carried out using sophisticated machines and intelligently written code which can cause a lot of damage if not well contained.
How to plan for and protect your information against cyber-espionage
Educate employees on cyber espionage
Most attackers use unsuspecting employees to gain access to a company or organization’s website. Educating employees on rules and policies to uphold protects your organization from unknowingly allowing a criminal into the organization. Carry out frequent seminars or webinars teaching your employees on the various avenues’ attackers use to access company networks. For example, employees should know that it is unsafe to log into free WIFI with a company’s laptop or iPad.
The avenues can be used to obtain access to classified information on their devices. They should also strictly ensure their machines are used for work-related activities only. This precaution ensures your machine does not gain access to unsecured sites. Actions like not opening emails from unknown sources, should be taught and employees reminded to ensure new or unsuspecting employees do not fall prey to such techniques.
Develop strict rules and policies
Having well laid out rules and policies on using the organization’s internet and machines is essential to avoid opening channels through which cyber-attacks can be carried out. It is vital to ensure all employees know the company policies and are discouraged from sharing passwords or sensitive information.
An exact cause of action should also be well laid out to ensure any misconduct is adequately dealt with to avoid such instances. It is also essential to provide limited access to information and information to specific persons to ensure employees only gain access to what they need or is within their level of privilege. This action ensures you do not expose the employee to tempting information.
Invest in proper systems and personnel
Invest in an excellent system that has proper security to enable you identify and prevent any cyber-espionage attempts. Having strong firewalls ensures you can locate any malicious activities and shut them down. The systems should also have proper security that allows only those with clearance to access information. However, it is wise to note that the best designs without the appropriate personnel are not effective as you need a workforce that can interpret the message and act on the attempts.
Invest in excellent personnel who have intellectual skills and are well equipped to handle any attempted attacks. As an organization, you should carry out frequent audits and checks to ascertain your systems’ health and identify any loopholes that may be used to gain access into the systems. Your personnel should work round the clock to ensure the loopholes are correctly sealed and timely action is taken on any area that requires attention.
Ensure your information is encrypted to avoid it falling into the wrong hands. Information encryption should be carried out, especially when sending classified information internally or externally. By encrypting your information, you eliminate the chances of it being manipulated or wrongly used if it falls into the wrong hands.
Information encryptions work by transporting information in a coded language where only those with the password can decrypt it and understand its message. The process is beneficial, especially for high-end clients who have to communicate or send classified information over the internet. Ensure you use the latest encryption tools to avoid it being tapped or easily decoded. You should also ensure you give the correct people the password and clearance to eliminate leakage.
Use strong passwords
Most attackers gain access to your devices due to weak passwords. In an era with so many password encrypting tools, ensure you formulate strong passwords that do not correlate with your personal information which may be easy to decrypt. Remember that the attackers may use your available or personal information to their advantage. Eliminate passwords that can be easily guessed and use a combination of characters, letters and numbers. Ensure you do not write your password down, as it makes it easy for your information to get used in accessing classified information.
Use antivirus and antimalware
Antivirus and antimalware programs protect your system from outside invasion. They ensure your computer immunity is intact, preventing any external access. Thus, you should regularly update this software for computers and servers to scan through all files. They are also able to warn employees against unsecured sites that may look genuine to an average person. As a company, invest in a high-end antivirus system to ensure the wrong people do not access your client information or information.
Have a steady firewall
A firewall acts as a guard protecting your computer from unauthorized intrusion. Firewalls control web traffic and screen data that gets in and out of your network. Sophisticated firewalls offer alerts to your IT team of any attempted or incoming attacks, providing them enough time to react and stop an ambush. They also make it difficult for attackers to quickly gain access to your site, ensuring your information’s safety.
As an organization carrying out frequent tests to determine your firewalls’ strength is essential to ensure you identify any loopholes that may be used. It is also important to scan through lines of codes in your firewall to ensure no alternations or embedded inactive codes that may be activated to carry out an attack.
Update operating system
Carrying out operating system updates is a vital way of securing your information. Most software updates come with better security to ensure the safety of their clients. The updates indicate that some loopholes were identified in the previous version and are being sealed by the newer one.
Thus, you should ensure all employees help in this process and all machines owned by the organization are regularly updated. This action makes it easy to provide a uniform operating system that is updated as one loophole may be used to access the entire system.
Backing up a company’s information ensures you do not lose valuable information due to an attack. Some attackers, especially those that target governments or large corporations, aim to destroy their information. This actions limit access to useful information needed to meet their clients’ needs. Thus, it is essential to back up information so that you can retrieve it in case of any invasion, modification or deletion of sensitive information. If no proper backup is in place, it may be a significant blow to your business and a setback that may have both reputational and financial consequences.
The technological advancements experienced in the world have made governing and carrying out business activities easy. However, they have also come with new forms of danger and challenges that require unconventional methods to ensure safety. Cyber-attack criminals are constantly looking for vulnerabilities and weaknesses on networks and systems to take either steal information, stall operations or render services unavailable through denial of access. It is thus essential to be careful with interactions and ensure information is handled correctly.