Cyber attacks are something that every business should be aware of. Understanding who cyber criminals target and why is essential in helping you prepare for an attack. A cyber security services provider can help you stay prepared and ensure your business is protected from these threats. 

Main Lines of Defense: Who Cyber-Criminals Target and Why 

The main lines of defense are your network, applications, data, and endpoints. 

Cyber-criminals target businesses at all stages of the attack lifecycle: From initial reconnaissance to gaining access to sensitive information or money, then exfiltrating it from your organization. They do this by using various techniques that can be categorized into three main lines of defense: the network; applications (including web, mobile, and desktop); and endpoints (computers, mobile devices). 

Why are the Main Lines of Defense Important? 

While it's important to know who cyber-criminals target, it's just as important to understand why they do so. When you can identify their main lines of defense, you can better protect yourself from their attacks and other forms of data manipulation. 

A company's main line of defense is its employees, who may unknowingly share sensitive information with cyber criminals via email or social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This type of data sharing often occurs when an employee clicks on an unsolicited link in an email message; this action opens up your computer system for intrusion by malicious software (also known as malware) that steals personal information stored on your hard drive. 

In addition to being aware of how easily accessible malware can be through emails, businesses must educate themselves about other methods used by hackers: phishing schemes; ransomware attacks; network intrusions; denial-of-service attacks (DoS). 

Social Engineering Attacks 

Social engineering is a form of hacking that uses human interaction to access private information. Social engineers can use social media channels, email, phone calls, and texts to trick employees into giving up sensitive information, such as passwords or PINs. They may also trick employees into giving up money or taking over accounts. 

Social engineers use a variety of methods when trying to gain access: 

  • Phishing emails are messages sent by cybercriminals pretending they're someone else, usually an authority figure like your bank or government agency (e.g.We need your password now). 
  • Vishing (voice phishing) uses phones instead of computers--you'll get a call from someone claiming they're from somewhere you trust who asks for personal details over the phone (e.g., Hi Ms./Mr., this is Jennifer from IT Support at ABC Company.).  
  • Smishing (SMS phishing) involves texting messages pretending to be from legitimate companies but asking for personal information instead of calling directly back. 

Password Attacks 

Password attacks are one of the most common ways people get hacked. They are easy to execute and hard to prevent, detect, and recover from. 

  • Easy to execute: As we've discussed in previous sections, many online tools make it relatively simple for even novice hackers or cybercriminals to launch a password attack. These tools allow attackers to run through multiple combinations of words and letters at high speeds--sometimes hundreds per minute--until they find a combination that works on your site or app's login page. 
  • Harder than ever before: In addition, since most people choose easy-to-remember passwords (like 123456 or password), these types of attacks have become even more successful over time because many websites now require stronger passwords than ever before but do not offer any assistance when users need help creating them.* 

Phishing Attacks 

If you've received an email that looks like it's from your bank, PayPal or eBay and asks you to verify your account information by clicking on a link, you may have been the victim of phishing. Phishing attacks are designed to trick users into giving up sensitive information such as credit card numbers or passwords through deceptive means. 

Phishing attacks can be sent via email or text message--and sometimes, both methods are used at once. They're also becoming more sophisticated: in 2016 alone, there were over 5 billion phishing emails sent every day globally (that's about 30 per second). 

The goal of these attacks is usually identity theft or gaining access to someone else's computer so criminals can use it for malicious purposes like sending spam messages from the hijacked account without their knowledge. 

Malware Attacks 

Malware is software designed to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It can be spread in a variety of ways and can affect computers of all sizes. Malware includes: 

  • Viruses--software programs that replicate themselves by attaching themselves to another program or file on your computer. Viruses may corrupt or destroy data on your machine, cause it to stop working correctly, display annoying pop-up ads (even when you're not using the Internet), send personal information about you (such as passwords) out over the Internet without your knowledge or permission. 
  • Worms--programs that self-replicate through network connections without user intervention. 
  • Trojans/backdoors--these are programs that allow remote access into the machine from an unauthorized user such as hackers. 
  • Spyware--programs explicitly designed for stealing sensitive information like bank account numbers and passwords from unsuspecting victims through keystroke logging programs that record everything typed into their computers so these criminals can later use this information for financial gain. 

Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks 

Denial of Service (DoS) attacks make a website or network resource unavailable to its intended users. This can be accomplished by flooding the targeted system with traffic, thus overwhelming its capacity and causing it to crash. 

DoS attacks are often used to bring down websites but can also be used against other networks, such as routers, mail servers, or databases. In addition, DoS attacks can be carried out on individual computers by sending them large amounts of data packets, which overwhelm the computer's resources and cause it to crash or reboot. 

The key to being prepared for a cyber attack is understanding where your vulnerabilities are. 

Knowing what you must protect and understanding the threats is the best way to do this. For an organization or individual to defend themselves against cybercriminals, they must understand the types of attacks that could happen against them.  

For example, suppose someone wants access to a company's network. In that case, they will try different techniques until one works or gives them enough information about how their system works so they can compromise it later on when no one is there watching them do so (eavesdropping). 

The top targets of cyber criminals are businesses that have valuable data. 

The more valuable the data, the more likely it is to be targeted. The same goes for companies with a lot of money or other assets that can be stolen, such as credit card numbers or bank account information. 

  • Companies with valuable intellectual property (IP) are prime targets for hackers who want to steal trade secrets from them and sell them on the black market for profit. 
  • Financial institutions hold large amounts of personal and financial information about their customers' accounts--and this makes them vulnerable to attacks by professional criminals who want access to that information so they can commit fraud or identity theft against people who use those banks' services (or even just buy things online). 

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly vulnerable to attacks because they often fail to follow basic security practices. 

SMBs have different resources than large companies, so they may not have dedicated IT departments and may not have hired an external team for cyber security. This makes them more likely to be targeted by hackers who know how easy it is to exploit their lack of knowledge or resources. 

In addition, many SMBs lack a comprehensive strategy for managing their digital footprint and protecting themselves from malicious actors online--meaning that they're much less prepared than larger organizations when it comes time for an attack. 

When criminals target large companies, they are usually looking for information they can use as leverage. 

While smaller companies may be more vulnerable to cyber attacks, large companies have more to lose. If a cybercriminal steals information from a small company and uses it for blackmail or extortion, the impact on the business owner is typically minimal.  

The same cannot be said for larger companies. If hackers could access sensitive information about a company's clients or employees, they could use that information as leverage against them to extort money or force them into compliance with whatever demands are made by the hacker(s). 

Large organizations also tend to have more money at stake regarding protecting their data and intellectual property rights (IPRs).  

Cybercriminals know this and will often target these types of businesses because they believe there will be more significant financial gain from stealing IPRs instead of targeting individuals who aren't likely going anywhere soon since they don't have much disposable income after paying bills each month anyway. 

Protecting your company from these attacks is important, primarily if you work in an industry where sensitive information is stored or shared via email or other means. 

Companies operating in sectors with a high risk of cyber attack should consider working with a cyber security services provider who can help them protect their data and networks by identifying vulnerabilities and managing the associated risks. 

Benefits of working with a cyber security services provider 

Working with a cyber security services provider is the best way to ensure your organization has everything it needs to defend against cyber-criminals and hackers. Here are some of the benefits you can expect: 

  • Help with a cyber security strategy: A good provider will work with you to develop an effective plan for protecting your business from threats, including those that come from outside sources. They'll also help ensure that everyone in your company understands how important it is for them to follow this plan at all times so that nobody accidentally exposes themselves or others by doing things like clicking on suspicious links or attachments sent via email or social media platforms like Facebook Messenger (or even SMS text messages). This includes both employees who work directly on computers every day as well as other employees such as HR professionals who may not spend much time using technology but still need training in order not only to protect themselves but also avoid inadvertently exposing sensitive information about other people within the organization. 

Call SSI today for managed cyber security services. 

If you need help protecting your company from cyber attacks, SSI can help. Our managed cyber security services are more cost-effective than hiring an in-house team and provide the same level of protection. 


The key to being prepared for a cyber attack is understanding where your vulnerabilities are. By working with a cyber security services provider, you can take steps to protect yourself against these attacks and minimize the damage they cause. Call SSI today for managed cyber security services.