Over the past year, data loss and cyber incidents have reached an all-time high. That’s why cyber security has become a top priority for everyone, including large companies and small and medium-sized businesses, governments, and individuals. Let’s look at the most common types of cybersecurity threats and how to protect against them.
The year 2020 has spurred the shift to remote working; 88% of companies worldwide have moved to work from home. And while offices are equipped with well-protected routers and firewalls, remote working has made it easier for cybercriminals to attack more vulnerable employee devices and networks.
In 2021, 35% of businesses reported an increase in cyberattacks. Therefore, more and more companies began looking for ways to bolster their cyber defenses, often partnering with experienced cybersecurity providers.
A cybersecurity threat includes malicious acts to gain access to or steal sensitive data or to damage or disrupt the network of another person or organization. A cyberattack can be undertaken by various attackers, including an individual hacker, a terrorist group, or even a trusted individual such as an employee or contractor. In this article, we’ll look at the most common types of cybersecurity threats and share some expert tips for protecting your organization from them.
5 types of cybersecurity threats to watch out for in 2021 and beyond
cyber threats change and evolve from day today. However, companies should be aware of the most common threats and strengthen their defenses against potential breaches to prevent cyberattacks.
Social engineering is the process of manipulating a person into revealing sensitive information or installing malware on their device. According to ISACA, social engineering is one of the most common cyber threats. What’s worse, this threat comes in many shapes and sizes.
Here’s a brief description of its most common forms.
Phishing is when hackers impersonate a trusted person or company using their logos and names. Hackers send an email to a person or group of people asking them to perform a specific action, such as checking an email address or providing a credit card number, login credentials, or other valuable personal information.
Phishing can also be divided into subcategories. For example, spear phishing is an attack that targets a specific person. Attackers gather information about a person available online and prepare email correspondence accordingly to make it sound more convincing.
Baiting is when hackers induce a victim to take a specific action by offering them something desirable or by playing on their curiosity, such as offering to download a free movie. Attackers can also use a USB flash drive, such as handing it to the victim at a conference or leaving it at a coffee shop. And while the victim may think it’s just an accessible storage device, the hacker has downloaded malware onto it that can corrupt the victim’s software.
The quid pro quo service is very much like bait. But instead of offering a product, cyber criminals provide a service. For example, they contact the victim and offer to fix a bug in their system. However, to access the provided support, the victim must provide their credentials.
Scareware attacks consist of hackers scaring the victim into doing something. This type of attack usually requires the victim to act quickly. For example, a person may receive an email claiming that someone has hacked their account and needs to act immediately and change their credentials to protect their account. After responding to the hackers’ demands and changing their credentials, the victim gives them to the attackers.
Piggybacking and tailgating are two very similar types of attacks. Piggybacking is when a criminal sneaks in with an authorized person to gain access to a restricted area. This type of attack can be electronic or physical. A “tailing” attack involves the criminal gaining access to a restricted area by following closely behind the authorized person. In both cases, attackers can access sensitive information and use the device to steal data or hack into the system.
Malware is malicious software or code that exploits a vulnerability to penetrate an organization’s network. Cybercriminals can inject malicious code into a company’s software to compromise its security systems, deny access to critical information or essential assets, and gain access to sensitive data. There are several types of malware. Let’s take a look at the most common types.
Ransomware attacks involve blocking user data and threatening to publish or delete it unless a ransom is paid.
Viruses infect company computer systems and spread throughout the network. Attackers can use viruses to make a profit, send a political message, or sabotage a company.
Trojans are malicious programs that are inserted into a helpful program. They are usually used to create a “backdoor” for cybercriminals to access company systems.
Spyware collects information about a person. This sensitive data can be used to blackmail a person or install other malware on their device.
In this case, an attacker disrupts regular network traffic by overloading the network, causing it to fail to respond. Denial of Service (DoS) can be used to demand ransom or disrupt operations. When an attack simultaneously targets multiple devices or systems, it is called a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
A Domain Name System (DNS) attack is one type of DDoS attack where cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in DNS servers. Thus, when users enter an address they think is trustworthy, the DNS server is compromised, and users are redirected to malicious sites.
As many organizations move to cloud-based systems, a growing number of hackers are targeting cloud security. Cybercriminals exploit weaknesses in cloud deployments and security misconfigurations to gain access and steal companies’ assets and sensitive data.
Top Tips to protect your network
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to prevent cyberattacks completely, but companies can get ahead of all types of cybersecurity threats and reduce risks by being proactive. Here are our top tips for companies to protect their networks.
Warn Your Employees
If your employees are warned, they become hedged, making it harder for cybercriminals to trick them into doing something or disclosing information. You have to ensure that your employees:
- do not open unwanted links
- do not disclose personal information to third parties
- keep programs and systems up to date
- use two-factor authentication
- create unique and strong passwords
- do not use unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Regular training sessions imitating hackers will be very helpful to monitor your employees’ reactions. Identify weak points and make sure your employees are prepared for the actual situation.
Take Preventive Measures
In addition to training, take the following preventive measures to protect your systems:
Install spam filters to detect threats and prevent phishing emails from reaching end users.
Block access to known malicious IP addresses by setting up firewalls.
Install antivirus and antivirus software to check software for potential threats regularly.
Provide a list of safe programs that can be downloaded to corporate devices.
Make sure that only those who need access have administrator accounts.
Manage access control. For example, those who only need to read a file don’t need permissions to edit.
Ensure Business Continuity
Cybersecurity incidents often trigger business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Ensure that in an attack, critical business infrastructure is secure and service delivery is not interrupted. The following steps can be taken to do this:
Create data backups and make sure the recovery process works.
Conduct regular penetration testing and vulnerability assessments to evaluate system security and identify vulnerabilities.
Make sure critical data backups are protected. For example, some cloud backups can be blocked if systems are continuously backed up in real-time.
With the increasing reliance on digital technology, companies should also increase their cybersecurity maturity to navigate this uncertain environment. Experienced cybersecurity partners can help identify weaknesses in your security and protect your company from all types of cybersecurity threats.