Finding Cyberthreats Before They Become Attacks

If your business is connected to the Internet, your computer network and systems will suffer a cyberattack at some point. The attackers may be after financial gains, they may be activists, or they may just be trying to have fun at your expense, but they will be coming eventually.

Detected early enough, most attacks can be mitigated safely, so it is a best practice to have some type of predictive security. You can spend a lot of money on security technology, but here are some simple tips you can easily and inexpensively do yourself.

  • Watch for Slow Connections
      1. You should always be aware of the speed of your network and computers. Slow connections and responses, especially when seen on some but not all computers, can be an early warning sign of a cyberthreat.
  • Unwanted Pop-Ups
      1. When you or any of your employees see unwanted and unexpected pop-ups on your computers, it can be a sign of malware. Especially troublesome are the black windows that can pop-up and disappear quickly; this can be an indicator that malware is attempting to execute commands on your computer.
  • Rise in Phishing E-mails
      1. Everyone gets the strange e-mails; and everyone has been warned not to open any attachments or click on any links. Keeping track of the number of phishing e-mails on a regular basis will help you track the trends; a rapidly rising number of such e-mails can be an indicator of an attack. Your spam filter software should be able to provide the statistics and a visual display of trends; if you do not have a spam filter, asking your employees to forward phishing e-mails to a quarantined account (e.g. will give you similar visibility.
  • Monitor your Network and Computers
    1. Monitoring and gathering data on your network and any attached hosts will let you see trends as they develop. It may be spikes in network traffic during off-hours when no one is in the office, it may be unknown alerts from various computers, or it may be some other metric; the important thing is to monitor and understand the baseline of that metric, then be prepared when there is a rapid shift away from that baseline. Monitoring software is available from many vendors, so be sure to do your research before making the decision, as this is a big decision for your business and its data.

Every network and computer connected to the Internet is a potential target, and it is almost certain that bad actors will attempt an attack on your network at some point in time. There are many things you can do to detect these attacks and protect your assets; some of these solutions are costly, while others are simpler and easier to implement. The key is to always be on the watch for changes in what you have become accustomed to as being the normal performance of your network and computers.

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