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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 Guardey in short?

You just want to know what Guardey is, in a few lines, not scrolling through the whole website. We got you covered. Here you are:

Guardey focuses on three parts of your cyber security:

A safe and encrypted VPN connection via Guardey’s secure infrastructure or a Site-to-Site VPN.

We analyze information packages from the data going through the VPN tunnel, give clear insights into your data infrastructure, and provide alerts in case of threats like ransomware, viruses, and irregularities in your network.

Your cyber security is as strong as your weakest link. With Guardey, you can educate your whole team and increase awareness in a fun and efficient way through gamification.

It’s an advanced software as a service with applications for Windows and Mac OSX and an online platform for reporting and managing your teams and company policies.

How does the free trial works?

Your free 14-day trial with Guardey is based on our Basic plan. In our basic plan, all the alarms will only be available for yourself or your own company, and you manage the alarms in-house. We don’t need any payment information to start your trial, and you can invite as many users as you want.

The majority of SMEs don’t have an in-house IT department or a team of cyber security specialists. Therefore we also offer Guardey co-managed and Guardey custom. In both plans, you are able to connect Guardey to a preferred Guardy IT partner or, of course, your own IT partner.

They can semi or fully manage the alarms and the health of your infrastructure so that you can focus on your business.

After your 14 days of the free trial, you can decide if you want to continue with a paid plan. Upgrading during your trial period means you stop your trial and upgrade to a paid plan. You need a verified payment method to upgrade.

How can I pay after the trial period?

We don’t ask for any payment information to start your trial.

If you want to upgrade during or after your free trial to a paid plan, you can use one of the below payment methods:

  1. Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, PostePay, Cartes Bancaires)
  2. PayPal
  3. Direct Debit (iDeal SEPA)
Can I up- or downgrade to a different plan?

Yes you can! You can always upgrade immediately and costs are calculated pro-rata on your next invoice. A downgrade will be effective from your next payment period.

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Anouk ter Harmsel

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