How to Prevent Cyber Attacks

It’s become an unfortunate reality that for many businesses, cyber attacks have become part and parcel of daily life. Cyber criminals are seizing the opportunity to extort money by disrupting businesses operations.

But what can organisations do? How can you prevent cyber attacks?

What is a Cyber Attack?

There are many definitions of cyber-attacks. However they all come down to the same fact. A cyber attack is any operation or action intended to alter, corrupt, deceive, deny access or delete computer systems or networks. This includes the data and/or software within/in transit of said computer system and networks.

Businesses are susceptible to such attacks due to the data they hold. They possess lots of sensitive information, such as personal data, which attracts threat actors. In particular, small businesses are often susceptible to cyber-attacks due to them often utilising free security software meant for normal users, rather than professional grade cyber security solutions.

It is also important to understand the impact a cyber-attack can have on a business. Not only can it result in employee/customer information being stolen, it can also cause  substantial damage to a company’s reputation. This can lead to financial loss and having to seize operations while attempting to recover from an attack.

Whilst it is true businesses are very vulnerable in the current cyber climate there are easy, actionable steps one can take to reduce the risks. One of the easiest is to collaborate with a security operations centre such as Aspire. But what other steps can you take to prevent cyber attacks?


How to prevent cyber attacks

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1. Train your Staff

Human error can account for a large number of successful cyber-attacks. This can include

  • Employee using weak passwords.
  • Employees storing a password in an unsecure place.
  • Employee falling for, or simply clicking on, a phishing email.

Due to the large part human error plays, it is imperative to educate your staff members, there are even pre-packaged solutions to assist in security awareness training.

At Aspire we have recently seen an increasing number of phishing emails. The inception of artificial intelligence has made it even harder to determine whether or not an email is malicious. It allows threat actors to structure their phishing emails in a professional manner, using correct grammar and fluency in their writing, all of which make an email appear more legitimate. This is why it’s important to train your staff diligently to give them the toolset to identify a phishing email themselves.

Aspire Patch Management

2. Keep Software and Systems Up to Date

Threat actors often look for exploits in popular software. That’s why it’s important to ensure your software is up to date along with your operating system. This ensures any vulnerabilities have been patched out.

In 2017 the notorious “WannaCry” ransomware attack targeted organisations around the globe, one of them being the NHS. The NHS was heavily impacted by this ransomware, impacting over 80 hospital trusts within England. The reason the ransomware was so effective was due to the legacy operating systems that hospitals often use. It was noted that many of the machines infected were using Windows XP which has not received updates since 2014.

At Aspire we offer patch management as a service (PMaaS) to reduce the stress and responsibility for a business, with over 15 years of experience within cyber security.

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3. Ensure Data is Backed up

Data backups are extremely important for every business, they are important for several reasons, these including: human error, hardware failure, or the unfortunate event of a ransomware attack. It is important to understand the importance of backing up data with 39% of businesses reporting data breaches last year according the government’s department for digital, culture, media and sports latest cyber security survey. If such a cyber-attack occurs and a business’s data is held for ransom, having a back-up can ensure only as little data is lost as possible, along with business’s running as usual as quickly as possible.

A great solution for data backups includes Aspire’s online backup services, with presence in various data centres across the UK, as well as in the cloud.

access control

4. Control Access

Access control is a security process which allows businesses to manage who has authorisation to access certain data. It works by identifying users based on their credentials, if the user is correctly authenticated they are then given the appropriate permissions for the data they are trying to access. Forms of access control authentication include passwords, pins and security tokens.

Control access is extremely beneficial as it helps maintain data integrity, mitigate insider threats and audit access control. This audit process ensures potential access violations are discovered as quickly as possible if they do arise.

Secure your organisation
from cyber security threats

Secure your organisation
from cyber security threats

tool management

5. Install the right tools

It is important to know which tools are necessary to keep your business safe, many smaller businesses often lean towards using individual solutions which is often where cyber-attacks happen, as they are not as secure as business grade tools.

Some of the most notable tools include Crowdstrike Falcon, an endpoint detection and response tool which to be simplified plays a similar role to that of your antivirus software on your home computer, however has many more capabilities.

Other important tools include security information and event management tools such as Securonix, Qradar and Splunk, these tools collect and analyse data from a variety of sources, including a business’s devices, servers and users. These tools utilise custom and predetermined rules to help identify and define threats.

Managing these different tools can become difficult for an in-house security team due to the amount of tools needed to manage, which is where turning to a managed security service provider (MSSP) such as Aspire may be the correct choice for your business.

Account Management Software

6. Employee Account Management

Employee Account Management is paramount to ensure businesses are safe from cyber-attacks. Stale accounts are often used by former employees or other threat actors to attack an organisation. It is important to frequently check whether or not your business has stale accounts, this can be done a number of ways, one of which would be searching for any accounts within your active directory which have not updated their password within a certain time frame, depending on your companies password policy.

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7. Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor authentication should be commonplace in today’s climate when it comes to protecting a business, it is a system which requires users to provide multiple methods of identification in order to gain authentication to the account they wish to access. One key benefit to this form of authentication is how it helps prevents password spraying, a technique where threat actors take compromised account details and attempt to use them across a plethora of sign on locations.

MFA prevents this by ensuring even if the attacker gets the correct credentials they still cannot access the account without the second form of authentication, commonly in the form of an authentication application on a user’s mobile device.

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8. Password Security

When discussing password security it is important to understand that relying on password strength alone is not the key to secure log-ins, as mentioned earlier multifactor authentication is also an extremely important part to account security which plays a huge role within password security.

A good practice in modern businesses is utilising a password manager, this ensure that employees are using strong passwords that are different for each set of log-in credentials preventing threat actors from attempting to use the same password across multiple platforms.

When creating a password which does not rely on a password manager it is essential to understand what makes a strong password. The three words concept is a password creation technique discussed by the national cyber security centre where passwords use three random words, creating a high character count and level of complexity whilst still being allowing for a user to remember the password.

9. Encryption

Encryption is the process in which data is scrambled into somewhat of a secret code, which can then only be deciphered with a unique digital key. Encryption performs several key functions: it keeps data secret, verifies where the data came from, validates the data has not been tampered with and lastly prevents any senders spoofing who sent data.

Professional cyber security Support

10. Get Advice from Cyber Security Professionals

An extremely important piece of advice is to know when to get advice from a specialist. Here at Aspire we are a managed security service provider (MSSP).

The benefits working with a third party MSSP include response times and the services offered, such as a 24/7 security operations centre which ensures security for a business at all times. Another large benefit is the access to a plethora of expertise and experience along with a deep toolset that helps protect businesses.



In conclusion we can see there are many facets in which a business could improve their security landscape, from simple password management to utilising a third-party MSSP to ensure security is delt with at the highest level.

Want to Reduce Your Attack Surface?

Want to Reduce Your Attack Surface?

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Avatar photoJake Merrick

See more by Jake Merrick