To say that business owners have a lot on their plates today would be no understatement. In addition to managing operations, the likelihood of falling victim to a cyber attack is a constant worry, and it’s easy to see why.
According to the 2022 Travelers Risk Index, 57% of people surveyed believed that it would only be a matter of time before their companies were hit by a cyber attack. Given that cyber attacks occur approximately every 32 seconds, this is a legitimate concern.
One of the most common methods used by hackers today is cyber vandalism, which has become a rapidly growing problem for small to medium businesses, as it can be done with relative ease.
But what is cyber vandalism, and what exactly can you do to prevent your business from becoming the next target? In this article, we’ll discuss what cyber vandalism is, its many forms, and the steps you can take to protect yourself from it.
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What is Cyber Vandalism?
In order to understand this attack method, we must first discuss the cyber vandalism definition, which is also known as the data vandalism definition. Cyber vandalism is a malicious activity that seeks to cause damage to or disrupt computer systems and websites.
What sets computer vandalism apart from traditional methods like phishing scams or ransomware attacks is the fact that financial gain is usually not the goal, although some hackers may still pursue it. Regardless of motive, the attacks usually deal heavy damage and have lingering effects.
For example, if a hospital’s network and website were forced offline by cyber vandals, the end results could be reduced client confidence, a major blow to the institution’s reputation, regulatory sanctions, and possibly even legal action.
The Goals of Cyber Vandalism
Electronic vandalism often has several goals, which include deleting files, modifying websites, deploying viruses, and disrupting services through denial-of-service attacks on your server.
All users on a network are susceptible to becoming victims of or unknowingly contributing to this devastating practice and should exercise caution when engaging in online activities to protect their systems from potential harm.
The attacks themselves can be carried out by disgruntled former employees or clients, or unrelated individuals looking to cause mayhem for their own entertainment.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Cyber Vandalism
Cyber vandalism is a growing problem that businesses need to be aware of and prepared to defend against.
Your business can easily become a victim of cyber vandalism when your computer systems, networks and social media accounts are hacked or infiltrated by malicious computer viruses planted by cyber vandals or phishing attempts.
These methods can disrupt your operations, delete files, steal sensitive and confidential data, and cause significant financial losses.
There are several warning signs that indicate your business may be the target of cyber vandalism, such as:
- Strange passwords
- Unauthorized data access
- Suspicious behaviors in company accounts
- Unexpected emails or messages circulating
- Unusual activity reports on mobile devices and computers
The best way to protect your business and its data from computer vandalism is to familiarize yourself with these warning signs and get assistance from a certified cybersecurity specialist that has the technical experience and resources to monitor and respond to potential threats.
Types of Cyber Vandalism Attacks You Should Be Aware Of
Now that you have a good understanding of what cyber vandalism is, the individuals behind the attacks, and what the warning signs are, let’s explore four common types of attacks.
1. Website Defacement
This form of electronic vandalism involves maliciously modifying a website’s appearance and replacing it with offensive or politically-motivated content.
2. Ransomware Attacks
Despite the fact that many cyber vandals are not in it for the money, some may still look to drain a victim’s financial resources. Ransomware uses encryption to block companies access to their data. Attackers then demand a steep ransom payment in exchange for decrypting the data.
3. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks
A common method used by malicious attackers worldwide, DDoS attacks flood a victim’s network or website with large amounts of traffic that make them inaccessible. Data from Microsoft indicates that an average of 1,435 DDoS attacks occurred daily in 2022.
4. Social Media Attacks
Networks and websites aren’t the only common targets for cyber vandalism. Social media accounts are also not immune. A social media attack occurs when a hacker gains unauthorized access to a company’s Facebook or LinkedIn accounts, and then uses them to publish and distribute false information or controversial content.
Steps for Preventing Electronic Vandalism
As cyber attacks and attack vectors continue to evolve, it is essential to protect your computer systems and mobile devices, and on-premises workstations from malicious virus and cyber vandalism.
To limit the potential for data theft or cyber attacks, you should ensure that all accounts can be monitored across all platforms for changes in profile information, suspicious software downloads, and unusual activity.
Additionally, endpoint protection should be continuously updated in order to prevent threats from entering your system. Frequent scans will also detect any malicious code before it has a chance to cause damage.
Finally, you should educate and inform your users about best practices while using their computers or smartphones. Cybersecurity awareness training is a must in every organization, as it helps your employees identify untrusted links, spoofed emails, and malicious files.
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Avoid the Impact of Cyber Vandalism With a Trusted Cybersecurity Specialist
A little vigilance goes a long way when it comes to protecting your business and its data from the different types of cyber vandalism. The consequences are damaging, making it vital for you to understand how to protect your critical information.
One of the best ways to mitigate the effects of computer vandalism and avoid becoming the next major target is to partner with a trustworthy managed services provider like NENS.
Backed by over 25 years of experience, NENS’ cybersecurity experts provide a complete suite of services that help strengthen your protection while improving your business’s security posture.
Fore more information about how we can keep your computer systems and data out of harm’s way, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our team.