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The 7 stages of a cyber attack

The digital age produces many beautiful things. It gives you a lot of freedom as an entrepreneur because you don’t have to work from an office alone. You can work anywhere in the world. This freedom also comes with risks. For example, you can become the victim of a cyber attack that can have fatal consequences for your company.

What is a Cyber Attack?

Simply put, a cyber attack is an attack on your company’s ICT. ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology and is a collective term for technologies used for information and communication processes, such as computers, servers, networks, software, internet technology, mobile technology and telecommunications.

There are different targets for a cyber attack, depending on the attacker and their motives. Here are some examples:

  • Financial profit: Cyber criminals try to steal or earn money through, for example, phishing, ransomware or stealing your data that they can sell.
  • Sabotage: Some attackers try to damage or disable systems or networks to hinder your business processes or damaging or destroy sensitive data.
  • Espionage: Some attackers are interested in collecting data or information from a specific target, such as trade secrets or sensitive information.

The cyber kill chain

Many entrepreneurs think that cyber attacks are impulsive. This is a misconception because criminals often prepare well. Typically, a cyber attack has seven different phases. This is also referred to as the cyber kill chain. Lockheed Martin created a framework in 2022 with the phases of a cyber attack.

SMEs are vulnerable to cyber attacks

Most entrepreneurs in SMEs think that they are not easily victims of cyber attacks because there is more to be gained from large companies. But nothing is less true. SMEs in particular are interesting for cybercriminals. But why would criminals attack SMEs? There are several reasons why cybercriminals target SMBs.

In the first place, small companies usually do not have their own ICT department. They often also don’t employ enough staff with ICT knowledge. In addition, SMEs usually do not have good software to detect attacks.

The stages of a cyber attack

Many entrepreneurs think that cyber attacks are impulsive. This is also a misconception because cybercriminals often prepare well. We can distinguish seven phases within a cyber attack.

  • The first phase is called the exploration phase. During this phase, cybercriminals look for weak spots within the organization. That is why it is important to do your own research into your systems. Then you know what the weak spots are and you can then do something about them.
  • Then comes the arming phase. Cybercriminals have found weak spots and developed malware based on them. Malware can disrupt computer systems and collect sensitive information. Fortunately, there is special software that can detect malware.
  • Next comes the so-called delivery phase. The malware is delivered to your employees. This is usually done by e-mail, but sometimes also by telephone. The message usually contains an untrustworthy link. Undoubtedly, not all of your team has a lot of digital experience. For that reason, it is wise to inform your team. Tell them not to click on strange links, for example. Clearly indicate the safety protocols. This is very important because human error is the biggest success factor of a cyber attack.
  • After the delivery phase comes to the exploitation phase. An employee has clicked on a link and that link automatically activates the malware.
  • Next comes the installation phase. The attackers not only have access to the employee’s computer but also to the entire network of your company at the same time. This is one of the most dangerous stages. It is of course possible that one of your employees knows that he or she has clicked on the wrong link. In that case, it is wise to call for help as soon as possible. Call in the police and a specialized IT company. They may still be able to limit the damage.
  • The employee may also not know that he or she has clicked on the wrong link. Then comes the command and control phase. You can see the malware as a Trojan horse. The attackers can install new malware once they are in your network. Without ICT knowledge, it is virtually impossible to solve this without help. So get help as soon as possible.
  • Finally comes the action phase. The attackers have reached their goal in this phase. For example, they lock away information or have confidential login details. It is important to change all passwords. Also, check whether you are missing certain files. Sometimes files have also been added to your network.

Guardey’s cybersecurity solution

We have discussed the different phases of a cyber attack are, and how you can prevent a cyber attack. The problem is that cybercriminals are becoming handier, but most SMEs are insufficiently secured. Guardey’s cybersecurity software is therefore certainly interesting for your company.

Guardey brings several benefits. First of all, Guardey ensures a secure connection to our corporate VPN. The connection is checked for threats 24/7. In the event of a threat, you will immediately receive a notification so that you can detect and counter a cyber attack as early as possible.

At Guardey you can not only use a secure connection or receive an alert in the event of unwanted traffic over your network. Cybercriminals regularly take advantage of your team’s ignorance. That is why it is also important to train your team well. You are a lot stronger if your team knows what to do in case of a cyber attack. Guardey can support your company through Gamification. Your team learns everything about cyber risks in a stimulating way

Of course, we understand that you want to try Guardey first. That is why we offer you a free trial period of fourteen days. You can start immediately!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is gamification?

Gamification is adding game elements into non-game environments, such as security awareness training, to increase participation and foster active learning.

What are the benefits of gamification in security awareness training?

Traditional security awareness training can often be dry and boring. With gamification, the complex subject matter is transformed into an engaging and memorable experience.

By integrating game elements such as challenges, quizzes and rewards, it incentivizes users to actively learn. This makes the training more enjoyable and fosters a sense of competition and achievement. This combination drives better retention and application of cyber security knowledge.

Why is it important to train security awareness on a weekly basis?

Research shows that up to 90% of the learnings from yearly or even quarterly training are forgotten within a few weeks. Guardey was built to keep its users aware of cyber threats 365 days a year. The game comes with short, weekly challenges that slowly builds up the user’s knowledge and eventually drives lasting behavior change.

Which topics are covered in Guardey’s security awareness game?

Guardey covers a wide array of topics to train users about all currently relevant cyber threats, put together in collaboration with ethical hackers and educationalists. The topics covered include phishing, remote work, password security, CEO fraud, ransomware, smishing, and much more.

How much time do the weekly challenges take?

Every challenge takes up to three minutes to complete.

Can I use Guardey to comply with the ISO27001, NIS2, and GDPR security awareness policies?

Yes. ISO27001, NIS2, and GDPR all require that all employees receive appropriate security awareness training. Guardey is always up-to-date with the latest cyber threats, policies, and procedures.

Is security awareness training important for all employees, or just specific roles?

Cybersecurity awareness training is crucial for all employees, not just specific roles. Every staff member can potentially be a target or an unwitting entry point for cyber attacks. Training helps create a security-focused culture and minimizes risks for the entire organization.

While certain roles may require specialized training, a foundational level of training should be accessible to everyone.

In which languages is Guardey available?

Guardey is available in English, Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Swedish and Danish.

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