8 Common IT Security Issues and How to Avoid Them

Posted on July 26, 2020 Security

71 percent of Americans fear that computer hackers will access their personal, financial, or credit card information. There’s a good reason for that. Cybercrime is a very real threat in 2020, with US companies losing over half a billion dollars per year to cybercrime.

If you run a business in today’s online world, you need a robust cybersecurity plan to prepare for the relentlessly inventive cyber threats adequately. IT security issues can be devastating. 

A single data breach can potentially ruin your company for good. Cybercrime incidents can hurt your reputation, dent your finances, and scare customers away. 

Unfortunately, the most destructive cybersecurity threats are like a sniper – you never see them coming. Even if you have firewalls, antivirus solutions, and a digital security team, cybercriminals can still find ways to exploit any vulnerabilities they may spot.

What exactly are these cybersecurity issues, and how can you avoid them? Read on to find out.

1. Ransomware

Few cyber threats are as common and as destructive as ransomware. Over the years, ransomware has swept across the world, taking business and personal data and plundering companies’ bank accounts.

So, what does ransomware do? Well, this special malware reaches into a company’s system, encrypts important data, and then forces the company to pay for the decryption code. Ransomware can cripple your business financially, cause downtime, and severely hurt your professional reputation. 

How to Avoid Ransomware

The best defense against this malware is to have a comprehensive data backup solution. You can back up your business data in one of the reliable cloud service options. This way, in case your data is encrypted and stolen from you, you can restore it quickly from the cloud backups and get your operations up and running in no time.

You should also always keep your software and systems up-to-date. Another effective way to prevent ransomware attacks is by using a professional, multi-layered security solution. 

2. Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common cybercrimes. If your business is ever going to be hit by a cyberattack, chances are this will be the first, the second, and the next one after that. 


Because phishing attacks are incredibly successful, which is why it’s a favorite of cybercriminals. In 2019 alone, more than two-thirds of organizations in the US experienced successful phishing attacks.

Phishing attacks are unassuming. However, they can devastate your company. 

Typically, a phishing attack comes in the form of a malicious email. The sender pretends to be a coworker, a business partner, a friend, or an acquittance and asks for something. Because the sender seems like someone you know, you probably won’t suspect anything and will hand over what they asked on a silver platter.

How to Avoid Phishing Attacks

Interestingly, phishing attacks are easy to spot and avoid. All you need is to know what to look for in an email before trusting it. Here are some best practices to remember:

  • Keenly review a sender’s email address
  • Never download any attachments from an unknown source
  • Examine the nature and timing of the email request
  • Be careful when opening any links contained in an email

As long as you observe these practices, you’re less likely to become a phishing victim.

3. Malvertising

How much do you dislike online ads? Malvertising can make you hate them a lot more. The truth is online ads can be quite annoying, yet oddly useful.

Unfortunately, not all online ads are created equal. Some have downright malicious intent behind them. Malvertising is one of them.

In malvertising, the perpetrator injects malicious code into an otherwise legitimate advertising network. Once you click on the website, the code automatically redirects you to malicious websites.

Malvertising typically targets highly reputable websites, such as The New York Times

How to Avoid Malvertising

The primary objective of malvertising is to inject ransomware into your system. The malicious ad thus relies on vulnerabilities in your system to achieve the perpetrator’s goal. If your components are outdated, then you are particularly at risk of this attack.

The best solution is to continually install updates and patches. You can also layer on your security.

4. Brute Force Attacks

A brute force is a simple yet effective attack that hackers use to get your login credentials. Also known as an exhaustive search, this attack relies on the perpetrator guessing possible combinations of your password until they discover the correct one. The longer your password, the more the combinations the hacker will need to test.

It’s the reason you need to be careful when creating your passwords. Creating a password like ‘password12345’ is putting yourself at risk of a brute force attack. With a simple online tool and some time to spare, an attacker can run through a few thousand possible combinations and probably crack your password.

Once they have your password, they can steal essential data, causing unimaginable damage. Of course, you can always work with an expert who provides Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) to recover the information, but that could take a while.

How to Avoid Brute Force Attacks

To overcome password-hacking tools, you need to enforce a strong password policy across all systems and users in your organizations. Here are some password creation best-practices:

  • Always use a combination of numbers and characters.
  • Use phrases or sentences, but not common ones.
  • Avoid using the same password for different accounts.
  • Discourage the sharing of passwords.

Make the life of a hacker difficult by securing your system with strong passwords. 

5. Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks involve the psychological manipulation of people in your company into divulging confidential actions or performing certain actions. Whether it happens over the phone or in person, the ultimate goal is to trick you or one of your staff into dropping standard security protocols. To put it simply, social engineering is like a phishing email playing out in real life.

How to Avoid Social Engineering Attacks

Address social engineering threats as you would phishing emails. Always analyze all situations carefully before you hand over any personal or business information. For instance, if someone comes to your company claiming to be from your internet company, verify their credentials and employment before believing them.

Train your staff on how to handle social engineering. Everyone in your organization needs to remain suspicious. It’s the best defense against social engineering. 

6. Drive-By Downloads

Drive-by downloads hideout on other websites, waiting for unsuspecting users to click on by. Once a user clicks on these downloads, they immediately execute a code-driven attack on their system.

Just like in malvertising, the websites where these downloads hide don’t have to be malicious. Drive-by downloads can hijack any site because no software is flawless. And once you get infected, you’re infected.

How to Avoid Drive-By Download Attacks

Drive-by download attacks rely on vulnerabilities in your system to be successful. That’s why you should stop relying on those free versions of antivirus solutions you download off the internet. What you need are multiple layers of protection.

Be sure to keep all your systems up-to-date. Avoid allowing any vulnerabilities to exist. If an update needs to be performed, never postpone it.

We’ve already mentioned that malicious code can exist in any site, but it’s best to always perform your browsing activity on protected sites. Always look for the lock while opening a site.

7. Inadequate Patch Management

Patch management aims at covering holes in your system. Manufacturers are always releasing patches to address any vulnerabilities in their software, operating systems, and other technologies. These patches are vital to the security of your company.

Unfortunately, patching is largely ignored by IT security systems, probably because they’re busy managing many other responsibilities. The result is that your IT security infrastructure is left with gaping holes. These holes can:

  • Expose your business to cyberattacks.
  • Leave your IT system needing remediation, which leads to downtime.
  • Cause reputational harm when successfully exploited.
  • Make your company non-compliant with industry and regulatory cybersecurity standards. 

Standard protection measures may not give you enough protection. That’s why you need to utilize proper patch management. 

Recommended Solutions

Your best defense against this IT security issue is to make patch management a priority. Patch management should never be optional. It is vital to the security of your clients’ data and the livelihood of your company.

Create and implement effective policies and procedures on patch management that help you minimize your company’s attack surface. This means closing up any holes in security that attackers can use to steal data. 

Automate patch management, so any holes are close in real-time. Doing so makes your IT security more effective and ensures that your team doesn’t have to do it manually, which is more time-consuming. In the end, everyone wins, except the cybercriminals who are looking to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities.

Avoid IT security issues in Your Organization

Cyber threats are here to stay and will do whatever they can to harm your business. The best way to stay safe is to arm yourself with adequate information and resources on how to prevent the most prevalent IT security issues today.

Are you looking for innovative IT security solutions for your business? Please contact us today.

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