Today’s enterprise IT professionals are navigating a challenging cybersecurity environment. In many ways, the problem’s scope is stunning and alarming. For instance, ransomware attacks increased by 151 percent year-over-year in 2021, while phishing scams increased by 440 percent in a single month.
The escalating attacks come with a price. The most recent Cost of a Data Breach Report found that 2021 had the highest average cost of a data breach in the report’s 17-year history, surpassing $4 million for the first time. As a result, companies are increasing their cybersecurity investment in 2022, fortifying their defensive postures to avoid the financial expense, reputational damage, and productivity loss that inevitably follows a cybersecurity incident.
In the process, cybersecurity leaders and organizational decision-makers face difficult decisions as they allocate resources, invest in new solutions, and support their personnel. This is especially challenging as threat actors display remarkable agility, exploiting novel vulnerabilities and harnessing the latest technologies to wreak havoc on a company’s digital infrastructure.
However, by evaluating the latest technology trends, companies can get ahead of the next threats.
New Technologies Introduce New Threats
New technologies invite threat actors to invoke fresh tactics when launching ransomware attacks, infiltrating company networks, or illegally occupying consumer accounts. In a pandemic-stricken environment, many are leveraging camouflage techniques that allow them to operate anonymously from anywhere in the world.
Most prominently, virtual private networks (VPNs), proxy servers, queue networks, and domain name systems (DNSs) allow threat actors to operate with nearly total anonymity.
At the same time, many organizations have made VPNs, encrypted connections over the internet from a device to a network–through a single IP address, available to the employees, providing expanded access to company IT from anywhere in the world. Collectively, companies deploy VPNs for several reasons, including:
- ensuring general security, such as avoiding identity theft
- minimizing privacy concerns, such as securing personal data
- mitigating information exposure from public WiFi
- accommodating job-specific requirements
Meanwhile, more than half of VPN users rely on the technology to access region-restricted content from streaming services and digital platforms. Unfortunately, many users are downloading free VPN software to access this region-restricted content, and they’ve unknowingly had their residential IPs hijacked by these VPN providers.
When consumers download and sign up for a free commercial VPN, many agree to give the VPN provider the right to use their IP address in the entire proxy pool for routing purposes. While this clause is often hidden in the Terms of Service, it can have significant implications for cybersecurity.
Threat actors have found proxies to be an effective way to masquerade their malicious activity. Companies can’t prevent VPN users from accessing the internet, but this practice increases the risk of labeling customers or employees as threat actors while failing to detect or discover the root of cybercrime.
Incorporating IP Data for Protection
Simply put, it’s evident that companies need to develop the capacity to separate threat actors from genuine users. The ability to identify threat actors operating through a proxy enables companies to flag potential criminal activities, set protocols for handling this type of “non-human” traffic, and review post-action analytics.
By incorporating proxy and VPN data on the front-end of online security measures, companies can automatically flag IP addresses as suspicious and reject or block the incoming IP from connecting to their service, website, or network. In addition, proxy data can trigger variable fraud alerts that enable companies to differentiate authentic traffic from fraudulent activity more effectively.
Most importantly, success is predicated on data quality. Information reliability can vary significantly among data sources, but the most accurate proxy data providers ensure that this information is constantly updated and originates from excellent sources. The cybersecurity implications are far-reaching, including:
- government agencies can use IP-based VPN data to filter and identify safe VPNs
- financial services and eCommerce platforms can incorporate proxy and VPN data to implement smart rules to verify consumer IP addresses automatically
- managed security service providers can use proxy and VPN data as a foundational, front-line layer of fraud prevention and security enhancement.
To thrive in a shifting cybersecurity landscape, companies must continually equip themselves with the data and tools to protect their digital assets. Developing the capacity to analyze and respond to high-quality proxy and VPN data strips threat actors of their anonymity, making it one cybersecurity strategy that companies can’t ignore in the year ahead.
To get more information about using IP data to solve cybersecurity challenges for your organization, download the whitepaper “The Need for Proxy/VPN Data in Today’s Heightened Cybersecurity State” here.