From the first hack to layered attacks
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Some attribute the first hack in history to John Nevil Maskelyne, who managed to intercept Marconi’s wireless telegraph signal to demonstrate its vulnerability in the early 20th century. Others believe that the term ‘hacking’ derives from the appearance of information technology, with which they attribute the first cyberattacks to the 1960s, when students from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) decided to look for programming shortcuts to access computers that only large corporations and institutions could afford to perform certain tasks remotely more quickly.
Be that as it may, the reality is that up to the now famous Pegasus system, hacks or cyberattacks have experienced enormous sophistication. In addition, cyber attacks are becoming more complex and specialized by sector every year, as Hugo Álvarez, Territory Manager Iberia at Perception Point, explains: “The industrial sector, political parties, governments are attacked with very innovative ways of attacking, using techniques of phishing (identity theft), whaling (attacks directed at managers using public information or their networks for impersonation), or attacks that are not detected by the tools because they are organized in deeper layers, so it is necessary to delve into the attack chain to reach the place where it is being originated. These types of layered attacks are much more difficult to perceive and defend.”
The sophistication of the attacks has a direct relationship with the evolution of the defenses, but “cybersecurity solutions, by definition, always go behind the attacks”, understands Hugo Álvarez, who, however, does not hesitate to value the development of defense strategies: “there are companies that focus on quickly responding to ‘Zero-Days’ attacks and on combating these attacks in layers. It is recommended to have at least seven layers of defense to be able to defend against these attacks with a high level of depth, at least 8-10 levels to reach the origin of the attack”.
Some attribute the first hack in history to John Nevil Maskelyne, who managed to intercept Marconi’s wireless telegraph signal
Last year, 44% of Spanish SMEs suffered at least one cyberattack, according to the Hiscox 2022 annual cyberpreparedness report. This is due, above all, to the fact that the largest number of cyberattacks come from human error and in small and medium-sized companies are where there is less preparation in this regard: “By far, email is the main responsible for these attacks that are successful. It is always due to human error, from employees who access a website that they should not, who execute a program, etc. Employee email is always the most open door and where we should focus, but it is increasingly used in other common places where employees are: web repositories, such as Google Drive, or collaborative tools, such as Salesforce or Zoom. In these alternative channels, we are seeing more attacks because cybercriminals know that they are less protected”, assures the Territory Manager Iberia of Perception Point.
Álvarez emphasizes that, today, a good cyber defense must be based on a system of layers, although awareness is also key. “We must improve awareness and prevention. Attacks are difficult to stop once they occur, so you have to have fast and agile services to respond in minutes. Just as attackers launch their offenses through layered attacks, defenses must follow this same scheme.
Something that is being done well from certain companies, “these are issues that have been on the CEOs’ agenda for years, not only the CISO, which has gained a lot of power in recent years.” One of the main reasons why companies do not invest in cybersecurity is its high cost, which also does not bring a palpable benefit at the account level, so awareness is essential to carry out this type of investment.