In 2021, about 37% of companies were targeted by ransomware attacks, resulting in an average of $170,404 being paid in ransom. However, only 8% of the companies recovered their data despite paying the agreed amount. But the ransom does not often offer respite or a solid recourse because, even for those who normally pay the money to the attackers, their data still leaks or is sold on the dark web. This has often led to the conclusion that the battle has already been lost by the time a ransom note is issued. Still, there is a remedy, which according to experts, lies in being more active in defense and preventing access to the system in the first place.
There are multiple lines of defense your IT department should take to prevent losing company data. The basics would be ensuring every device used for company work has a VPN app installed, using a proxy server with a built-in firewall, and your team gets regular training on how to spot scams and attacks. Let’s look into the tips on how to improve your cybersecurity and why proxy servers is one of the paramount instruments for avoiding cyber threats in more detail.
Challenges Affecting Cybersecurity Efforts
Many cybersecurity challenges abound from the increased evolution of technology. Here are four main challenges affecting cybersecurity efforts.
1. Increasingly Sophisticated Attacks
With each passing game, attackers are upping their game, crafting new ways to steal data or gain unauthorized access to admin credentials and systems, often with malicious intent. Their attacks include ransomware, IoT attacks, cloud attacks, cryptocurrency wallet or exchange hacks, phishing scams, and more. In a 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware attacks, in particular, have increased by approximately 13% since 2021. This rise, the study notes, is as big as the last five years combined. In addition, ransomware was present in about 70% of malware breaches in 2021.
2. Remote Work
And as companies increasingly favor remote working models following the pandemic, these organizations now have to contend with the possibility of attacks emanating from multiple points. Under this model, any employee can be on the frontline of an attack, and it only takes a single mistake, such as downloading a file or clicking a link, to compromise an entire system. In fact, the increase in data breaches can largely be attributed to the rise of the work-from-home regime.
3. Software Vulnerabilities
It is advisable to keep software patches up-to-date. This is because such solutions are susceptible to vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit to purvey their malicious attacks. At the same time, installing multi-factor authentication at the software level is crucial to protect the software infrastructure from intrusion by unauthorized parties.
4. Extensive Scope of Company Operations, Networks, and Systems
Organizations are typically made up of multiple departments, each of which may be tailored to provide a particular service. For such a company, it can sometimes prove daunting to safeguard the various systems or the collective network used by all these departments. This may mean that access to the network offers a leeway into the entire organization. This is, however, discouraged. Instead, the networks and systems should be segmented so as to ensure that the attackers do not have free reign over the entire network or system should their intrusion succeed.
How to Improve Cybersecurity
There are several ways to improve cybersecurity operations in an organization, including the following:
- Segmenting networks and systems
- Ensuring software patches are up-to-date
- Installing multi-factor authentication functionalities
- Utilizing hybrid threat detection and response approaches that include automated solutions that notify cybersecurity teams should they identify serious threats
- Using virtual private networks (VPNs) to protect employees’ remote work
- Installing mobile device management systems that prevent mobile-based attacks by monitoring phishing or malware attempts, segregating business data, and remotely wiping a device completely
- Deploying proxy servers, especially HTTP proxies and transparent proxies
- Training: companies should regularly train their employees on the existing and emerging cyber threats
Of the various interventions, we shall primarily focus on HTTP proxies and transparent proxies.
Before detailing what HTTP proxy is, which is a type of proxy server, let’s detail what a proxy server is. Also known as a proxy, a proxy server is an intermediary that intercepts all outgoing requests from a browser and all incoming responses from a server. Additionally, it assigns a new IP address to the outgoing requests, masking their real online identity. In this way, proxy servers enhance online anonymity.
Against this background, what is HTTP proxy? An HTTP proxy is a content filter created by configuring a browser, computer (through the operating system), or web server. In this regard, there are two types of HTTP proxies: the HTTP-client proxy and the HTTP-server proxy. For a more in-depth understanding, you can also find more info here.
HTTP-client proxies boost cybersecurity by filtering all incoming responses. They block responses that may contain malware or ransomware. In addition, they block phishing links. Similarly, HTTP-server proxies protect servers against malicious HTTP requests. They also balance the load, thereby preventing attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attempts.
On the other hand, transparent proxies – so named because they do not modify the requests and do not require the user to change the settings – block access to certain websites. This way, they also prevent phishing scams as they only support connections to known websites.
There are several ways you can safeguard your personal or organization’s security. For example, you can segment networks and systems, ensure all your software applications are up-to-date, utilize multi-factor authentication, use proxy servers, and more.