Tackling Cyber-Attacks: Proactive Measures for Modern Threats

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Cyber-attacks are becoming ever more frequent and dangerous. In the Czech Republic, for instance, a group of pro-Russian hackers recently crippled several state infrastructure websites. What are the most common cyber threats and how can you defend yourself from them? Martin Bareš, our Head of Cybersecurity, answers these and other questions in an interview.

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The number of cyber threats is growing. Most recently, the websites of the Police, the Ministry of the Interior and the Prague transit company were taken out of service due to DDoS attacks by pro-Russian hackers. What can such attacks cause?

This question can be answered from several perspectives. Considering the technical one, the consequences of such an attack could be service unavailability, theft of data, or damage to individual parts of the solution. If we consider the “human perspective”, it could be mistrust, fear, and a general psychological impact. Not to mention the additional impact from the economic and political view. In other words, the impact of such an attack is not just on the affected service.

[.infobox][.infobox-heading]How quickly can they be responded to and prepared for?[.infobox-heading]The response to such an attack can be fairly swift, depending on how well protected and prepared you are. It’s not just a matter of the technical solution but also the procedural part. One does not fully function without the other, and it always takes both for the defense to work best. For example, one part of a prompt and functional defense/response is the need for a reliable response plan for such situations, which makes it clear what should happen at such a moment.[.infobox]

On the day of the last major attacks, the President of Ukraine was giving a remote speech to Prague; in your opinion, should/could the security experts at the affected institutions have been better prepared?

This is very difficult to judge, because I do not know the affected institutions’ manner and form of readiness in detail. However, the truth is that complete immunity to cyber-attacks at work is almost impossible, so the best option is to be well-prepared and update your security plans and technology measures according to the latest trends and available information.

What should such preparations involve?

Preparation is a very complex process that takes place on several levels. The technical part concerns measures at the level of keeping the system up-to-date, ensuring security with valid configurations on individual elements, data backup and recovery capability, correct and functional deployment of security components. As far as organizational measures go, both the incident response plan and the human factor play an essential role - i.e., user caution and their knowledge and familiarity with new threats.

Could you please remind us of the greatest threats to people/organizations in cyberspace today and how to defend against them?

It depends on who is being attacked, whether individuals or groups. However, I would include the following among the most basic and common ones:

Phishing and vishing - attacks on users to obtain sensitive information for subsequent misuse. These primarily threaten individuals. How to defend yourself? Awareness is important, but the key is caution and self-education on the part of users, which can be a problem especially for older users. In short: It is important to check who we are giving information to and to make sure that we only share it with trusted people.

Ransomware is another common threat to the average user. It is an attack on data to block it, followed by an offer to release it for a fee. The defense against this tactic is to back up your data, update your software and use a working antivirus program. And, of course, caution and suspicion.

It is a bit more complicated for organizations, which are primarily exposed to the threats:

  1. DDoS attacks – service unavailability,
  2. Supply chain attacks - attempted attacks within the supply chain,
  3. Insider threats - attacks from within, typically coming from an employee.

However, the area of cybersecurity we deal with at Trask is quite broad - we provide security testing or audits and consulting services, as well as specific tailored technology solutions. We are also increasingly involved in cloud security, due to the mass adoption of this technology.

[.infobox][.infobox-heading]My final recommendations?[.infobox-heading] Be as vigilant as possible online, especially when sharing personal information. For businesses, ensuring cybersecurity should be one of the highest priorities - so don’t hesitate to contact Trask and its experts at any time.[.infobox]


Martin Bares
Head of Cybersecurity

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