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29 Apr 2024

Protecting your organisation from Cyber Attacks

Protecting your organisation from Cyber Attacks

Cyber-attacks can cause major disruption to your services, have devastating effects on consumer trust, and can ruin the integrity of your businesses’ information. But what you may not know is how cyber-attacks are carried out and how you can protect yourself, so keep reading if you want to find out.

Common methods of cyber-attacks include Spoofing, Phishing, Denial of Service (DoS), Man in The Middle (MITM), Password attacks, and Vulnerability Exploitation.

Malware is a general term for malicious software; once a computer has been infected, it will change the way the computer functions. The changes will depend on the type of malware that has been installed, but examples include destruction or alteration of data, and spying on the user.

Spoofing involves an attacker masquerading as a trusted entity; a common example of this is disguising an email address to look very similar to that of a known, trusted source increasing the likelihood that the user will disclose sensitive information. More advanced spoofing includes imitating systems such as domain name servers (DNS); DNS records can be altered to redirect traffic to carefully crafted fake websites that resemble the intended destination, resulting in users entering sensitive information such as usernames and passwords into the fake website, that the attacker will then use to access the original platform.

Phishing attacks and email spoofing go hand in hand because email spoofing involves a malicious actor sending emails with a false sender email address. Phishing attacks occur when an email is sent from someone that is perceived to be a trusted, legitimate source, but is in fact a malicious actor intending to steal sensitive information from the victim.

Denial of Service attacks (DoS) are designed to overwhelm systems to the point that legitimate service requests cannot be responded to; illegitimate requests flood the target site, often resulting in a complete shutdown of the website.

Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks occur when an attacker breaches a system in a way that allows them to eavesdrop on the data sent between two destinations, whether that is two people, two networks, or two computers. MITM attacks lead the two parties involved to believe they are communicating normally, however, there is a malicious actor that intercepts the message before it reaches the destination and alters it for their own gain.

Password attacks consist of a malicious actor attempting to obtain a user’s password, and this can be done in a number of ways such as brute force attacks, password guessing and dictionary attacks.

Vulnerability exploitation is arguably the most common attack vector for malicious actors, and this involves taking advantage of a weakness or vulnerability within a system or application. Exploiting a vulnerability allows attackers to perform unauthorised actions within the system such as injecting malware, gaining access to sensitive data or spying on the victim.

A recent well-known security breach that affected an MSP has been reported to have been caused by the exploitation of a vulnerability; the CitrixBleed vulnerability (CVE-2023-4966, CVE-2023-4966 which allowed the attackers to gain access to the organisation’s infrastructure. This caused the MSP to experience a service outage, impacting a portion of the services that they deliver. A Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) was released regarding the CitrixBleed vulnerability, revealing that the vulnerability enabled malicious actors to bypass password requirements and multifactor authentication, allowing them to gain elevated privileges and in turn harvest credentials, move laterally, and access sensitive data. CTS Cyberattack

In order for organisations to protect themselves, their data and their customers from the above threats and more, there are a number of methods and exercises that could be utilised, such as Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Scanning, Incident Response Scenario Testing and Cyber Essentials Certification to name a few.

Penetration Testing utilises advanced manual techniques to investigate and eliminate vulnerabilities within your environment. A successful penetration test will prove how genuine the vulnerabilities in your infrastructure may be, by determining if a threat actor can get through. Completing a penetration test would have allowed for the MSP to pick up on the CitrixBleed vulnerability in a timely manner and allowed for sufficient patching before the vulnerability was exploited.

Vulnerability Scanning allows organisations to continually (or as and when required) test their applications and infrastructure to catch vulnerabilities before they cause an issue. Similarly to a penetration test, although less in depth, a vulnerability scan would have also allowed for the MSP to pick up on the CitrixBleed vulnerability and allowed for sufficient patching before the vulnerability was exploited.

Incident Response Scenario Testing (also known as ‘Wargaming’) is recommended for organisations who have established an incident response and business continuity plan and wish to test the effectiveness of that plan in a controlled manner. Testing your response plans ensures that incidents are dealt with quickly and effectively, avoiding preventable escalation of an incident.

Finally, the Cyber Essentials scheme was introduced by the UK government to help organisations mitigate 80% of cyber threats. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) encourages all organisations that are based in, or trading with, the UK to implement either the Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus scheme. These certifications demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring robust cybersecurity maturity.

From phishing and spoofing to denial-of-service attacks and vulnerability exploitation, cyber threats are ever-present. Recent incidents like the CitrixBleed vulnerability exploit underscore the urgency of proactive cybersecurity measures. By embracing techniques like penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and incident response scenario testing, organisations can reinforce their defences and mitigate potential harm. Moreover, certifications like Cyber Essentials provide tangible steps toward enhancing cybersecurity maturity. Vigilance and preparedness are not optional—they are essential for safeguarding data and preserving trust in our digital ecosystem.

For more information on how to remain vigilant and protect your organisation from cyber threats, please feel free to contact us here at Secarma on 0161 513 0960 or email us at and speak to one of our Cyber Security Experts who will be happy to support your security needs. 

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