Only about 38% of organizations around the world believe they're capable of handling a sophisticated cyber attack.
Over the years businesses have become more reliant on IT services, and very few companies operate without an amount of online activity. That means all of these businesses are, to some degree, susceptible to cyber-attacks.
It's almost impossible to protect from cybersecurity risks without knowing what they are and how they work. For 5 of the most common cybersecurity threats you should be aware of, keep reading.
What Is a Cybersecurity Threat?
Cybersecurity threats come in many forms. There are different ways in which attackers can compromise a computer or a network through the internet. These threats can be used against anyone with an internet connection and can target people's home networks, as well as businesses.
Most cybersecurity threats have the purpose of stealing data/information or compromising networks. While there are plenty of ways to protect against these attacks, hackers are constantly finding new methods and vulnerabilities to exploit.
What Are the Most Common Threats?
The type and purpose of cyber attacks range a lot which makes it difficult to protect against all of them. The best practice is to do whatever you can to protect from the most common ones.
These change quickly, so it's important to keep up to date with the latest common cybersecurity risks.
Phishing attacks are one of the most widespread cybersecurity threats in the world. Attackers have been using them for years to breach people's data privacy, and they can still be very effective.
Phishing attacks typically come in the form of messages (usually emails) that are sent to people with the intention of getting them to click a link in the message.
The message itself will look like it comes from a trustworthy organization or an institution, such as a well-known brand or a bank. It will give a reason for the receiver to click on a link in the email and that will take them to a malicious website that's also designed to look like the brand/bank's own site.
These websites will then automatically download malicious software to the user's computer/network, or it will have a fake login page. If the victim enters their details they will be sent to the attacker who will then be able to access the victim's real account.
Phishing attacks have been around for a long time, so most people know how to spot them. Because of this, attackers have developed new strategies to make them more effective. This includes things like using machine learning so that they can quickly create more believable messages and distribute them in large quantities.
Skilled attackers may even customize these emails to make them seem more genuine. If they can include the name of the victim or other personal details it makes them more believable.
Ransomware is another widespread cybersecurity threat and is one of the main reasons you need to keep your cybersecurity at work up to date. Ransomware is a type of malware that is often targeted at businesses but is also sometimes used against individuals.
Protection from ransomware is essential. If gets onto a system the first thing it will do is encrypt a number of files, or sometimes even the whole operating system. This means only the attacker will be able to access them, and they will then demand payment from the victim in return for handing the data back.
It's important to have a high-quality cybersecurity system to prevent ransomware, or any type of malware, from infecting your computer or network. Despite that, some may still get through.
This is one of the main reasons why it's good practice to keep files backed up either on an external storage system (e.g. an external hard drive) or on a cloud network. If all important files are backed up and you fall victim to a ransomware attack you should be able to get everything back without having to pay the attacker.
Attackers will often demand payment in cryptocurrencies. By doing this it makes it harder to trace them, and they can keep getting away with such scams.
People have even begun offering RaaS (ransomware-as-a-service) in which people who don't have the technical knowledge to pull off an attack will pay a professional to do it for them. This has led to ransomware becoming a very common type of cyber attack.
Cryptojacking is a relatively new cybersecurity threat that has come about with the rise in the popularity of cryptocurrencies. One of the ways people make money through crypto is "mining".
Mining essentially means using processing power to solve complex equations on the blockchain. The person providing this processing power is then paid in the cryptocurrency that they are supporting. Over the years mining has ramped up to a point where people now spend thousands building mining rigs, and the profits they make can be very sizable.
One of the downsides to crypto mining is it also uses a huge amount of power, which can result in energy bills that cost several thousand dollars a month.
Cryptojacking enables hackers to take over these rigs without the owner knowing. They then input a wallet address that they control, so as the rig is mining all profits are automatically sent to this new wallet. Ultimately the hacker takes all the profits from the rig, and the owner is left to pay the energy bills.
Businesses that make use of crypto mining systems may suffer severe performance issues if they fall victim to cryptojacking. This can lead to downtime and a further loss of profits. IT staff will also have to spend time tracking down the issue and trying to resolve it.
4. IoT Attacks
IoT (internet of things) attacks are one that many people are not actually aware of, and they occur through devices that you wouldn't usually expect.
IoT devices are all different kinds of products that are connected to the internet. This includes plenty of things that are common in homes and workplaces such as smart doorbells, routers, home security systems, personal assistants (such as Amazon Echo or Google Nest), and more.
While these devices make our day-to-day lives easier, people often don't think about the risk that they present. Cybersecurity software is widely available for computers, tablets, and smartphones as that's where most attacks are traditionally targeted. IoT devices, however, tend to have little to no protection from cybersecurity threats.
Because of this, hackers are starting to develop ways to access networks through these devices. Setting up IoT devices on a network often means using credentials such as usernames and passwords, and sometimes other details. Hackers can steal this information which they may then be able to use to access other networks and accounts.
Attackers may also be able to disrupt and overload networks or take control of certain equipment. The more devices there are on a network, the more ways an attacker will be able to get in, and the harder it will be to work out where the vulnerability lies.
A DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack is done to disrupt a server. This works by flooding the target with a huge amount of traffic and essentially causing it to crash.
These attacks utilize multiple computer systems to maximize the traffic being sent to the server. This can include computers well as other equipment connected to a network such as IoT devices. The hacker does this by infecting a network with malware so they can take control of connected devices.
A simple way to visualize this of this is would be to think of a network as a highway, and the DDoS attack sends hundreds of cars to clog it up meaning normal traffic can no longer get through.
The compromised devices are referred to as 'bots', and together they make up a 'botnet'. On the victim's end, these bots are indistinguishable from normal traffic as they're all legitimate devices. This makes stopping these attacks even more difficult.
If you know the baseline of traffic within your organization you may be able to spot a DDoS attack early when there is unusual activity. You can implement a denial of service response plan which should include:
- A systems checklist
- A trained response team
- Notification and escalation procedures
- Contacts to inform in the event of an attack
- Communication plan for all other stakeholders
Having a strong cybersecurity system in place and making sure your employees know how to spot the signs of a DDoS and other cybersecurity threats will help prevent and mitigate DDoS attacks.
Protection Against Cybersecurity Risks
One of the most effective things you can do to stay safe from cybersecurity risks is to ensure your staff are aware of them and know how to spot them. If they can do this successfully your network should remain very secure.
You should also implement a strong cybersecurity system which can be quite difficult, especially for a larger network. Getting the help of a professional cybersecurity service is often the best thing to do.
NETdepot can provide customized cybersecurity solutions to give your business the best possible protection from any threats. With over 20 years of experience, we can ensure your systems are protected and your data is secure. If you have any questions about what we offer, click here to contact us today.