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6 Most Common Cybersecurity Threats Organizations Face (+ 6 Prevention Tips)

6 Most Common Cybersecurity Threats Organizations Face (+ 6 Prevention Tips)

Both, the risks and frequency of cybersecurity threats have increased phenomenally over the past few years. Rapid digital evolution and the adoption of technology in every department of an organization have accelerated the penetration of cybercrimes. Since 2018, mankind has witnessed grave cases of cybercrimes that cost organizations billions of dollars. The most common and famous ones include massive data breaches, microchip-related flaws, and crypto-jacking. 

Undoubtedly, the advancement of technology and the widespread use of digital media has made attackers smarter. Additionally, a ripe area of the audience who does not pay heed to cybersecurity becomes an easy target for cybercriminals. From a newly launched blog to an online store and mobile apps, their targets are diverse. 

Gaining access to sensitive information is a common cybersecurity threat to which the majority of internet users are vulnerable. Every day, we read news about cybersecurity threats such as ransomware, phishing, and IoT-based attacks. While 2019 witnessed the worst of the data breaches, it's petrifying to think of how cybercriminals are exploiting the current crisis. 

Data Breaches in the year 2019
riskbasedsecurity.com

However, 2020 came with a whole new level of cybersecurity threats, as most organizations moved to work from home set-ups. 

In April 2020, WHO reported a five-fold increase in cyberattacks on both individuals and organizations. Numerous reports show that being safe from cyber threats and taking a stock of your company’s cybersecurity is no longer optional. 

According to a report “Threat Horizon” by Security Forum, in the coming years, the three major cyber threats organizations will face include: 

  • Disruption – Increased dependence on fragile connectivity will escalate the risk of premediated internet outrages. The result would be compromised by business operations. Cybercriminals will exploit ransomware to hijack IoT. 
  • Distortion – Bots and automated sources will spread misinformation. Falsified information will compromise the performance and subverted blockchains will break trust. 
  • Deterioration – The rush to deploy AI will negatively impact the organization’s ability to control information. 

In a nutshell, cybersecurity is about staying ahead of threats and preventing them to occur rather than managing them after security is breached. 

Here are the 6 most common cybersecurity threats faced by small businesses, enterprises, multinational organizations, and MSME. 

  • Social engineering attacks
  • Cryptojacking
  • Malware
  • Cloud vulnerability
  • AI-related threats
  • Deepfake

Social engineering attacks

 Social engineering attacks are one of the most common and widely attempted cybercrimes. They trick the victims into sharing sensitive personal information such as login and credit card details. Although organizations are constantly enhancing their email security to block data breaches, cybercriminals are using sophisticated kits to facilitate data breaches and financial frauds. 

The three major types of social engineering attacks are:

  • Phishing–Typically the victim receives calls, emails, or text from a stranger pretending to be someone else to take out private information. Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report says that nearly one-third of all data breaches involved phishing in one way or another. The reason why phishing remains the biggest cause of data breaches globally is that it is an effective, high-reward, and minimal-investment strategy to gain legitimate access to credentials. 

Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report

  • Baiting - Cyberbaitinghappens when the victim clicks on spammy ads and websites that work as a gateway to their private information. The modus operandi is – showing the viewer an enticing ad, which upon clicking leads to downloading the malware on the computer. 
  • SMiShing (SMS phishing) – This social engineering attack is predicted to gain prominence in 2021 and beyond as the top cybersecurity threat. With the popularity of apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and Slack among many others, hackers are switching to these messaging platforms to trick users into downloading malware on their smartphones. Experian foresees that attackers will disguise fraudulent messages as fundraisers to target consumers. 

SMiShing (SMS phishing)

Cryptojacking

 In this type of cybercrime, the criminal injects a script on your device to mine cryptocurrency. Bitcoin mining became a trend amongst developers who were trying to make easy money. However, as the security of cryptocurrency increased, the cost of mining increased as well. As a result, hackers thought of a way of surpassing the value of mining bitcoins by using chunks of data from other people’s devices without making them aware of it. This is not just limited to bitcoins. 

Today, there are many cryptocurrencies mined by cybercriminals, but Bitcoin and Ethereum are two of the most famous ones. They use your device’s power to mine cryptocurrencies. 

Companies such as Starbucks and Tesla have been the victim of crypto-jacking. Starbucks was unaware of their system being breached until one of the customers took a closer look. Their store wi-fi was hijacked and every time someone connected to their store wi-fi, they would have a little delay in load time. This is when the attack happens. These attacks slow your device down to an extent that it becomes incapable.

The fact that it is a brand new field and technologies are getting used to designing security and finding bugs makes it easy for criminals to hack them. 

Crypotojacking is poised to be a significant cybersecurity threat in 2021 and beyond. 

Malware

 Cybercriminals create malicious software and install it on the victim’s device without their knowledge to get access to their personal information, hinder their privacy, and (most importantly) for financial gains.

The threat of malware multiples manifolds when it is executed at an organizational level. In 2019, Marriot was a victim of malware attacks. This attack breached the data of 1 million encrypted payment card numbers, 385,000 valid card numbers in addition to 5.25 million unencrypted passport numbers. Attacks like these show the organizations the ground reality of their cybersecurity measures. 

There are many types of malware but the most popularly used malware is Zeus. It is a modular banking trojan that records your keyboard activities and comprises the credentials of the victims whenever they visit their banking software. Zeus is one of the reasons why bank websites have an optional floating virtual keyboard. So that even if your computer is compromised, it won’t be able to capture your credentials.

Cloud Vulnerability

 A joint report by Oracle and KPMG revealed that cloud vulnerability is and will remain the biggest cybersecurity threats faced by enterprises. As organizations leverage cloud applications to store sensitive data related to their employees and business operations on the cloud, this will be a pestering issue. 

Biggest Cloud Security Challenges for an Organisation

Although the adoption of the cloud has immense opportunities, the challenges exacerbate the old ones. 

As nearly 83% of enterprise workload has shifted to the cloud in 2020, these organizations become an attractive target for malicious hackers. The top cloud security threats include data intrusion, misconfiguration, account hijacking, and malicious insider threats. 

As a business owner, you may think that cloud companies such as Google and Amazon who store customer data are heavily investing in improving their cloud security. However, that doesn’t spare them from deep cybersecurity breaches such as Operation Cloud Hopper.

Attack methodology by APT10

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) related threats 

AI and ML technologies have disrupted every industry. Ranging from marketing, manufacturing to sales and operations, artificial intelligence has a significant impact on businesses of all sizes. At the same time, AI is a disruptive technology that is proving to be a windfall for cybercriminals. The AI that has capabilities to identify and stop cyberattacks can also be used by hackers to launch complex malicious software at an unprecedented pace. 

The two most common AI and ML cyber threats are: 

  • Bot hacks -Businesses are trying to set up chatbots for conversational marketing. Instead of a customer support rep, the bot will guide you through the website. Cybercriminals can create AI scripts to surpass the verification and create fake queries to overburden your system. The system will crash after a point in time.
  • Spear phishing - With spear phishing, hackers can target particular individuals after knowing their personal background and history. They send emails to these targets by pretending to be a trusted sender amongst their circle. Then they infect their devices with viruses and malware to gain data.

Deepfakes 

Deepfake is a fake image or video created by criminals by swapping the faces and audio track of the video. The term, coined by Reddit users in 2017 is a technology being used by cybercriminals for illicit purposes. 

Check out this deep fake video of Putin taking a bash at American democracy.

Putin taking a bash at American democracy

With progressing AI-technology, hackers are using it to disrupt industries such as the financial market, politics, media, and entertainment. 

Deepfake audio and videos can be used to imitate CEO’s and steal millions from businesses, customers, and spread wrong information. Going ahead, anyone could create an AI-generated deep fake video to spread misinformation and it will be difficult for people to figure out that it's fake.

6 Tips to Brace your Organization Against Cyberthreats in 2021 and Beyond

  • Create a security strategy to assess and classify the data you handle and the types of securities your organization requires. Conduct regular security audits.
  • Prioritize cybersecurity awareness. Inform and educate your employees on the importance of data protection and following security protocols.
  • Create encryption for important data along with two-factor authentication to access the systems.
  • Invest, install, and update on regular basis cybersecurity tools such as antivirus software, firewall, and additional privacy tools.
  • Have a backup for sensitive data to save yourself from ransomware.
  • Hire cybersecurity engineers who can identify vulnerabilities in your system and manage them. 

Proactive measures will reduce the cybersecurity threats 

Digitization and globalization have given rise to cybercriminals who are in a constant search for fresh exploits to defraud and damage organizations and institutions. Businesses will have to be mindful and aware of the liabilities of cybersecurity threats in store. 

Proactive measures will enlighten you about the threats and ways to mitigate their risk.  

Check out our supremely comprehensive, and easy to follow cybersecurity guide if you want a career in this field!

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