Identifying & Preventing Cyber Extortion

Cyber extortion has become a growing concern among the digital community in recent years, even earning acknowledgment from the FBI as one of the fastest-growing cybersecurity issues. This cyberattack affects both small and medium-sized businesses. It is executed through the act of a hacker demanding money via the use or threat of malicious activity to a company’s systems and environment. Frequently, a hacker will use ransomware to infiltrate a company through hidden links in emails and websites, providing access to internal network systems to demand financial payment.

With cyber extortion becoming more prevalent, many companies want to know how to prevent it. There are a few methods that can be used to identify cyber extortion and prevent it from wrecking clients’ finances, reputations, and entire organizations. Let’s take a look at the different types of cyber extortion.

What is Cyber Extortion?

When it comes to the cybercrime of cyber extortion, there are a few different ways it can be executed. The main takeaway from these risks is they all begin with a hacker gaining access to a company’s network systems and finding various weak points where they break-in. These can come from email, ad networks, or infected websites. That means that hackers can target a massive group of people, and a small fraction of victims will end up paying the attackers. It’s almost like casting a wide net and seeing who will bite.

  • Cyber Blackmail: Like traditional blackmail schemes, this form of cyberattack involves criminals discovering valuable data. Cyber blackmail happens when cybercriminals breach corporate networks and exfiltrate sensitive information.
  • DoS and DDoS Attacks: Another kind of cyber extortion is a hacker conducting a denial-of-service and DDoS attack, then soliciting payment to stop the attacks. A hacker could threaten these attacks and then request payment to halt their threats.
  • Database Ransoms: A database ransom attack happens when hackers identify and hijack databases that utilize MongoDB, MySQL, and other systems that have not reset default administrative passwords or that have not been patched up. Hackers replace the contents of a breached server with a ransom note that demands a specific payment amount to restore the data.

How to Prevent Cyber Extortion

Companies want to know how to spot and prevent a cyber extortion scam before it happens to them. Prevention can seem complicated in an age where hackers are more creative and elusive in breaching systems. Here are some different actions and cybersecurity best practices that companies can use to protect their information better:

  • Understand the Data: Have an understanding of the data on hand and what is at risk. A company can’t fully know how much is at risk until they understand the true nature and the size of the data they possess.
  • Phishing Expeditions: Train employees to recognize phishing scams. Cybersecurity is not just an IT-related issue; it’s an HR issue as well. All employees should learn the importance of protecting the information they regularly work with to mitigate exposure to the business.
  • Back-Up Information: Create file back-ups, data back-ups, and bandwidth capabilities. This will help a company to keep its information if extortion does take place.
  • Firewall: Ensure systems have the right firewall and antivirus technology. After the right level of software is in place, evaluate the security settings on the browser, software, and email programs. In doing so, system options that meet a company’s needs without increasing risk can be selected.
  • Patch Things Up: Promptly update security software patches. Regularly maintaining security protections on an operating system is vital to them being effective for a long time.

About Mavon Insurance

At Mavon Insurance, we pride ourselves on our unique approach to insurance. We focus on integrity, communication, professionalism, respect and gratitude to help our clients succeed, and place business in specialized markets. For more information about our products, or to become an agent, contact us today at (855) 248-1480.