How Hackers Use Employees to Get Into Your Network
Hackers are everywhere, and any data they can get is a breach of security. Since security matters every moment of the day, as the network manager, you need to be aware of all the different ways a hacker can infiltrate your network.
One of the options hackers take is through unwitting employees.
At one point or another, an employee has installed something without permission. In some cases, this comes out benign. In others, it means all kinds of malware appearing within your network. Those software packages can be anything, and most regular employees do not have a way to check themselves if something is malicious. Thus, hackers use your own employees against you.
This can also happen when an email is opened, or an attachment is downloaded due to it appearing legitimate.
How Easy is it to Get a Virus on a Company Computer System?
The perception of a hacker is usually someone sneaking into a network through a forgotten backdoor. Unfortunately, they can also walk right in the front door too.
Today’s hackers have more tools at their fingertips than the spies of old had in their entire arsenal, and they are not afraid to use them.
New employees sign a cyber code of conduct when they go through orientation and training. They come to get you if the computer starts popping up warnings or slows to a crawl for extended periods of time or if they need additional help with programs. However, that does not cover their relationship with software.
Depending on your company’s views, you either have a whitelist or a blacklist for software. A blacklist does not cover every contingency on the web. Many employees, however, find a whitelist to be too stifling for them to do their jobs, especially if their job involves research. Neither is a perfect solution to the complicated question of how to control what comes on a network. This is especially true when good employees want new software to do their jobs better regularly.
The issue is, even with the strictest vetting procedures, new software can be problematic. Scouring the entire software package does not guarantee the package is virus and worm free. Human error happens, and it happens at the oddest times. Hackers know this, so they slide code into any number of different places to get it through into a network.
Sometimes it is not even a work-related application that causes the breach. Employees do go out and work around the security system to get themselves innocent games for example. The problem is, those games are often freeware, and as freeware, subject to all kinds of potentially devastating code exploits. Throw in the complications of company mobile devices and suddenly there is a lethal combination of vulnerabilities.
How Do You Catch and Stop a Virus or Malware Invasion?
Catching this behavior can seem like a herculean task, especially within a large company.
Depending on the size of your department, each person could be trying to keep track of tens of employees on top of their other duties. It does not make for an easy time looking for who installed a bad application somewhere in the network.
Usually, it is not the person you notice. It is the worm or virus doing something malicious to the system. The performance reporting is the first marker in that case. After isolating the cause of report anomalies, it is time to quarantine. Each company has a specific protocol for that.
Tracing a worm back to the software package it came from can be difficult depending on its construct. Some are set up to cover their tracks so that where they came from is difficult to recognize. Other hazards may tend not to burrow too far from where they came in. Regardless, finding the first entry package for blacklisting is imperative.
The termination of an employee over a malware incident is often out of IT department control. What is feasible though is to learn why something happened, and how. Using this information from an offending employee helps shape policy to prevent a similar incident. Catching the malware is not enough. Stopping the next incident is imperative.
Training the IT Team for Cyber Security
In the case of hackers, the best offense starts with the defense. As a network manager, you can recommend routine and consistent training for all staff.
When people hear the word retraining, most of them complain about what else they could be doing with the time. Instead of fighting against the training boredom, try turning the training structure a bit.
Training can start with the agenda, but then it is time to involve people. Adults rarely do well at being lectured, preferring to see the practical applications. Take up volunteers and have them move around to show various principles of cybersecurity so everyone is on the same page. Once the basic understanding is there, move on to the specific topic. In this case, it is time to talk about employee breaches.
Having employees install innocent software is a form of social engineering. Instead of a person doing the engineering, it is the game’s advertising. Software hiding malicious code hides behind mindless fun and competing with friends. Helping employees understand how this works not only helps your security, it works into their personal lives as well.
Now, training will not help every employee. Doing reminders every quarter will not solve the bored employee problem. Working through the intricacies of cybersecurity does not mean no one will ever do it again. However, understanding how cybersecurity works will help your regular employees help you. Training is about building that partnership.
How Can We Solve Hacking Problems?
The first step to solving any problem is understanding the problem. This takes time and patience. Not only is it necessary to solve the here and now issues, but the department must also build trust. Over time, employees trust you more and will take the time to contact you if anything is amiss. That kind of trust is invaluable to your cybersecurity.
Hackers take advantage of both good and bored employees. Good employees want to do their job better, faster, and more efficiently. They are always on the lookout for how to do that. Working with them proactively to find new solutions means no one tries something out with incomplete vetting.
Bored employees are a problem at any business, and at any level of business. A bored employee will find a workaround to security measures if they want to. While this is great for troubleshooting if those employees work with you, the behavior is also a major security hazard. Identifying these employees and keeping closer track of their activity logs can save a lot of headaches in the long run.
Using a variety of teaching methods during training increases security. It also builds trust with regular employees and shows that IT does not want to be a mysterious department. It helps people ask questions. All of this makes them less susceptible to downloading without checking with the department beforehand.
There is never a guarantee that employees will not inadvertently help hackers. If your department has not yet met this issue, it will turn up in the future. Through education and partnership, information technology departments everywhere can empower the employees in their charge to be more aware and responsive to threats. Inadvertent malware installation hidden inside another software package is only one example of how ordinary employees can help IT departments.