Many years ago, hacking and cybercrime was often the work of skilled individuals - typically programmers and software engineers working in their own time to create the tools they needed to breach security systems.
While these attacks were often successful due to the lack of public awareness about cybercrime, they were limited in scale due being perpetrated by individuals or small groups. Today, headlines around the world have drawn attention to the fact that cyber attacks have grown in their size and scope, with thousands of private users and businesses being targeted every day by criminals attempting to disrupt services and steal data.
The growth in scale of cyber attacks has been brought about by the rise of ‘Crimeware as a Service’ - or CaaS. While in days gone by hackers had to create the tools they used themselves, these days would-be hackers can call on CaaS providers to do the technical work for them, lowering the barrier to entry significantly.
Because criminals can now buy pre-made hacking tools, hire teams to perform cyber attacks for them, and rent botnets to perform attacks, the number of businesses being targeted has risen dramatically. But what can you do to protect your company from the threat of CaaS attack?
As with any sort of IT security, one of the best approaches is proper education of your staff and users. A common form of cyberattack launched by CaaS users is with so-called ‘weaponised documents’ - dangerous files disguised as common email attachments like Word or Excel files. These sorts of attack are similar to phishing emails too, where seemingly innocuous links direct users to compromised sites, and such links can appear on websites too.
By training staff to recognise potentially dangerous files and links, you can cut down your organisation’s vulnerability to this sort of attack. It is possible to use software and email scanning to vet attachments prior to downloading or opening too, quarantining any infectious files, and to block sites and blacklist known compromised domains.
IT managers can also make use of research, auditing and threat intelligence reports to guard against attack. While auditing your systems can help to identify potential weaknesses that need addressing, threat intelligence and research can help you to discover any incoming attacks, show you what you need to guard against in the future, and help you to learn more about what tools other organisations have used in their defence.
Regardless of the steps that you take to prevent a successful breach by someone making use of CaaS, it’s important to be prepared in case your defences do fail. While some attacks can be very difficult to defend against, especially for smaller businesses with more limited IT budgets, there are things that can be done to ensure the security of your users and data.
Beyond the typical security measures, like MFA for users to prevent some breaches, limiting the number of admin roles and avoiding the pooling of roles in the hands of just a few users can be a good way to limit data breaches. Giving just a handful of users extensive privileges in your system can lead to severe problems if it is their account that gets compromised by CaaS attacks, while spreading roles around your team means that no one breach gets access to much of your data.
Whatever action you decide to take to prevent attacks or to mitigate their effects, it’s important that you and your team are aware of how CaaS can affect your IT systems. With CaaS gaining more popularity as time goes by, the rate and scale of cyber attacks should only increase, and proper IT security will become ever more important.