One famous (though watered down) quip from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is “Know your Enemy.” For organizations with sensitive files and data, a hacker is your enemy. And make no mistake, you are in a war with hackers. There are lots of ways that hackers might try to infiltrate your company and steal your data. You need to be aware of phishing attacks and social engineering attacks that could try to steal the credentials required to access your network. You also need to be mindful of how cookies can have an impact on your security, using them to protect your network and conceal vulnerabilities. There are certain thought patterns you need to consider if you want to increase your ability to keep your files safe, and thinking like a hacker can play a critical role in that.

Thinking about cybercriminals’ motivations and tactics can help put security controls and training in place to reduce or prevent cyber-attacks. What do you need to know? Below we’ll dig into the best practices.

The Top Ways You Can Think Like a Hacker To Beat Them

Some of the ways that you might want to think like a hacker to make sure you beat them at their own game include:

Read the News

If you want to think like a hacker, you need to read the news. What are some of the most common viruses that companies face in the current environment? If you know what types of viruses the hackers will use, you can design a robust security strategy to beat them back.

If you take a look at the news recently, you know that ransomware viruses are a major issue across multiple industries. This is a type of virus that will encrypt all of your files, rendering them useless. Then, the hacker will only release your files if you pay a ransom. If you don’t pay the ransom, you could lose revenue because your business grinds to a halt. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that they will release your files if you pay the ransom.

The best way to deal with this virus is to prevent it from impacting your files in the first place. You need to think like a hacker to design a security plan to keep ransomware viruses from impacting your files. This means taking a look at your firewalls and educating your employees accordingly. To plant this virus, the hacker needs to have access to your server. This means they need to get credentials from your employees. If you can train your employees not to surrender their credentials to a phishing attack, you can reduce your chances of facing this virus.

Educate Your Employees

It is not unusual for hackers to work as a team. Your employees need to work as a part of your team as well. Just as you are thinking like a hacker, you need your employees to do the same. This means that you need to educate them regarding what a potential phishing attack might look like. You must tell your employees that you will never ask them to surrender their login credentials using email. That way, they don’t fall prey to one of these attacks.

You also need to educate your employees regarding what to do if they suspect that a data breach has taken place. They need to know who to contact. That way, you can limit the damage by reacting to a potential breach as quickly as possible. Finally, make sure you train your employees to log out when they are done using a computer. By not leaving their computer open, you can reduce your chances of someone swiping confidential files from your server.

Understand Their Motivation

For the most part, a hacker’s ultimate goal is to make money. They can either look for data that will allow them to steal money directly, like bank account numbers and financial information. Or they can find other information valuable to you and your organization that they can either sell for a profit or hold for ransom until you pay exorbitant fees.

You should be aware that not all hackers are taking advantage of individuals and businesses just for financial gain. There are some that just want to see if they can do it. Generally, the victims of these types of hacks are large or noted organizations that have security in place that hackers see as a challenge to be mastered.

Perhaps the biggest nightmare for companies and organizations is a former employee that feels they have been wronged in some way. These individuals might not be actual hackers but think about the amount of information they have access to and what they could do to exploit it. These are the people who will bring the flash drive to work to copy sensitive files before they’re let go, change passwords to lock personnel out of systems, destroy or delete data and backups, and generally cause aggravation and strife for everyone around them.

Take stock of the type of information you have and what it could look like in the hands of a cybercriminal. If you know what they’re looking for, you can protect it better. And if you have to let someone go, do it professionally.

Why You?

If you’re a small business, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that hackers only go after the big corporations. While there are so many examples of large businesses being hacked in the news. Think about what your organization looks like to a hacker. Chances are, a hacker will make the assumption that you won’t have the types of security controls that larger enterprises do. You could simply be a target of convenience.

Small businesses generally have less security than big companies. It’s easier for hackers to attack small businesses with ransomware or steal customer information than it is to break into the network of a financial institution. So make sure you are taking every precaution.

Social Engineering

The heart of what hackers do is exploit weaknesses and vulnerabilities, which can also include the people in your organization. While you might imagine a hacker as a person hunched over a keyboard with nine computer screens showing different images, a hacker could also look like a suspicious email attachment or sound like an angry voice over the phone.

A hacker’s goal is to steal intellectual property, credentials, or money, and they’ll do just about anything to accomplish their goal, including social engineering. A social engineering attack is an orchestrated campaign against employees using a variety of digital, in-person, or over-the-phone techniques.

Hackers often use social engineering tactics because it’s much easier to hack a human than a business. Social engineering attacks allow the hacker to combine multiple efforts and even cover their tracks because they can use the human to take money or install malware under their persona.

Take a look at some social engineering tactics that hackers are using to obtain information or data for malicious use.

Hire Your Own Hacker

One of the ways that you can help make sure your data is safe is by hiring hackers. Yes, you read that right. While this doesn’t mean you should find some sketchy person online, there are legitimate third parties that you can contract to execute penetration testing. They provide auditing services by simulating a cyber-attack and attempting to get into things they shouldn’t be able to.

A network infrastructure penetration test will look over the configuration of your core network components and identify weaknesses that could be exploited to compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of your systems and data. This could be a missing security update, a weak account, or a default configuration option that is present for functionality reasons.

These ethical hackers will send you a report detailing any vulnerabilities they found, and you can take the necessary steps to resolve any issues. By highlighting your technical vulnerabilities, your company will be able to respond and become much more secure. But, the mere sight of them is usually enough to make some business owners cringe.

Target Shadow IT

Sometimes, the vulnerabilities related to your network and servers do not have to do with your equipment. It is possible that it could have to do with the devices that your employees use. What this means is that, because there are a lot of employees who work remotely or from home, they might be using devices that the company does not have a lot of control over.

If they are accessing company information but do not have the right security measures, they could be a portal of entry into your server, network, and confidential files. You need to educate your employees about the dangers of shadow IT, and ensure they have the right security measures in place. You might even want to ask your employees to install specific programs on their computers to protect your files from harm. Be sure to monitor these devices, as they could be a major threat to your business.

Use a VPN

If hackers are trying to track your activities and steal your information, you need to make it harder for them to do so. One of the best ways to do so is to use a VPN. A VPN is a program that can scramble your IP address, making it harder for people to track you and your movements. It can make it harder for hackers to figure out where you are located, and it can encrypt your information if you send it from place to place, ensuring that it cannot be stolen in transit.

There are different VPNs out there, and you need to find the right one for your company. While you might be tempted to use a free VPN, this is a program that might actually collect your information and sell it to someone else. Take a look at the details of different VPN programs out there, and use the right one for your business.

Speaking of protecting your information as it is passed from place to place, you need to use a program that protects your files as well. That is where SmartFile can help you protect your company’s information from hackers and cybercriminals who might otherwise do you harm.

Trust SmartFile to Help You Protect Your Information

Clearly, there are a lot of threats out there, and you need to think like a hacker if you want to keep your information safe. Particularly in an era where so many people will be working from home, you must make sure that you educate your employees to keep them (and your information) safe from harm. That is where SmartFile can help you.

This is a tool that you can use to keep your information safe as you share information. As more people work from home, it will be important for you to give them access to the information they need to do their jobs, but you also need to make sure hackers stay out of your information. With SmartFile, you can control granular permissions, audit file access, and put strong security measures in place. In essence, you can think like a hacker to protect the information that matters most to your business.

With a solution like SmartFile, we can keep your files safe and your data secure. You can significantly reduce your risks and get some peace of mind when you share files with SmartFile.

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Related Topics & Tags: Cybersecurity Modern Privacy

About John Hurley

I am the CEO and Co-Founder of SmartFile. My role is to find the right people and give them the right tools and resources needed to grow both professionally and personally.

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