The word ‘hackers’ always had a criminal connotation, but hacking as a function can sometimes be used to protect an organization against the malicious intent of the bad actors. Packetlab’s ethical hackers will hack into a client’s system to discover vulnerabilities and gaps in security. Our ethical hackers then create a report and provide risk management solutions to fill those gaps. We are ethical hackers – but generally, who are hackers?

Hackers are criminals who gain unauthorized access to a network and its devices within. Hackers usually intend to steal sensitive data, such as financial or private information or corporate trade secrets. In the wrong hands, this data could do a great deal of damage to people and businesses. A keystroke on your personal computer or mobile; or your password on an application, can be exploited by hackers to steal your personal data using Trojan viruses or simple keylogging software. Personal information is like ‘digital gold.’ It is a valuable commodity and can be sold and used in ways that can be devastating to everyone – consumers, businesses, organizations and governments. Being hacked is a risk that everyone faces, whether online or even offline, and it is essential to prepare for them, given the damage they can cause. 

Some ways to protect company data from hackers are listed below, similar to those mentioned in our earlier blog on how to protect your company data.

Firewall:

Firewalls are considered the first line of defence for any system. A firewall prevents unauthorized access and sends alerts in the case of an intrusion attempt. They are generally categorized as a network-based or a host-based system. Should something be flagged as a security risk, the firewall prevents it from entering the network or reaching your computer. Whether through a purchase of a hardware firewall, software firewall, packet-filtering firewall, proxy firewall or a combination of these, this certainly is one way to protect company data from hackers.

Depending on the organization’s firewall policy, firewalls may completely disallow some traffic or all traffic. Firewalls may also perform verification on some or all of the traffic. 

Encryption:

Encryption involves changing information to make it unreadable by anyone except those who possess a special key that allows them to change the information back to a readable form. Encryption protects your data by preventing readability by anyone who should not have access to it. Data that cannot be read can’t be used maliciously, so employing encryption tools and best practices is important. Of course, encryption doesn’t prevent data from being stolen, but it ensures that the hacker cannot decipher or understand it. Other precautions must be taken to protect access to data itself.

Controlled access to files:

Most hackers try to access data or steal it digitally and remotely, but some even resort to damaging it physically. It is not enough to just limit access to sensitive data. Consider the physical location of your computer and files. Also, invest in fireproof and waterproof storage solutions to protect your files and systems. If it is in a public or easily accessible site, your files may not be safe. We have reiterated that passwords and other access codes should be protected, too, and sensitive files should be accessed only by authorized personnel. In most cases, users should not be allowed to copy or store sensitive data locally; instead, they should be forced to manipulate the data remotely.

Backup:

Backing up your system and data is an essential step to risk management but is often overlooked. The purpose of the backup is to create a copy of data that can be recovered in the event of a primary data failure. Should your device be stolen, or your data corrupted by malware or a system crash, a secure archive of critical information ensures you still have access to the data and that you have not lost it altogether. Creating a backup doesn’t prevent unauthorized parties from accessing stolen information and should be used in tandem with other security measures like encryption and firewalls.

Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems:

Traditional intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) perform deep packet inspection on network traffic and log potentially malicious activity. An IDS detects an intrusion and raises the alarm. Both IDS and IPS relate to network security, but they perform different functions and are essential to prevent hackers from accessing a server. The most well-known variants are signature-based detection (recognizing bad patterns, such as malware) and anomaly-based detection (detecting deviations from a model of “good” traffic, which often relies on machine learning).

Conclusion:

Protecting company data from hackers is not a one-time activity. It is an ongoing process and involves many actions and steps. These steps include education around cybersecurity for the staff, partners and even vendors. We also recommend conducting regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing, updating software and systems and having a formal company cybersecurity plan, including a detailed incident response mechanism. Talk to us at PacketLabs, as we have experience in this sphere, to ensure you do the maximum you can to protect your company data from hackers.