The cybersecurity landscape is constantly shifting and evolving as new cybersecurity threats and security solutions emerge. Security measures that work against the top cyber threats one day may be rendered obsolete by new types of cyber threats the next. For businesses to minimize their risk of a data security breach, they need to be constantly vigilant of the different types of cyber security threats that they face—both new and old.
However, it’s important to remember that there is no single “silver bullet” solution that can address every cyber threat your business faces. There are too many different kinds of cybersecurity threats out there for any one piece of technology to provide complete protection.
As such, it’s important to create a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to protect your business’ most sensitive data—one that covers the biggest cybersecurity threats to your business.
But, what are the top cyber threats to your business? Here’s a list of cyber security threats that most businesses contend with on a daily basis—whether they realize it or not:
Cybersecurity Threat #1: The Inside Man (Or Woman)
The single biggest cyber threat to any organization is that organization’s own employees. According to data cited by Securitymagazine.com, “Employees are still falling victim to social attacks. Financial pretexting and phishing represent 98 percent of social incidents and 93 percent of all breaches investigated.” That’s right, a whopping 93% of all the data breaches investigated in the report cited could be traced back to an employee.
While some “insider” attacks are the result of employees intentionally misusing their user credentials, many are the result of employees making some simple mistakes—such as falling for phishing attempts, visiting malware-laden websites, bringing compromised USB drives or other personal devices to work, or sharing their user credentials with someone else.
There are a few things that organizations can do to minimize their cybersecurity risks from insider threats, including:
- Implementing a Policy of Least Privilege. By limiting each employee’s access to only the specific resources they need to do their job, organizations can minimize the impact of a breach that occurs when an employee account is misused.
- Instituting a BYOD Policy. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies help set the ground rules for if (and how) employees can use personal devices at work. These rules can help protect a business from being compromised by unprotected personal devices.
- Providing Cybersecurity Risk Training. An informed employee is less likely to fall victim to a phishing attack or other cyber threat than an uninformed one. Providing training in common cybersecurity risks can do a lot to improve your “human firewall” and keep employees from compromising your cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity Threat #2: Ransomware
Ransomware still ranks high on the list of cybersecurity threats faced by businesses—both large and small. In fact, according to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Report, “Ransomware is the top variety of malicious software, found in 39% of cases where malware was identified.”
These attacks focus on getting an encryption malware onto a business’ network (often through phishing emails with bogus links or attachments that download the malware). Once the malware is on the network, it begins to encrypt all of the files on the network to make them inaccessible to the system’s users.
After the files are encrypted, a message is generated telling the victim something along the lines of “your files have been encrypted. If you want them back, pay X dollars/bitcoins to Y account within Z hours to get the encryption key.” Sadly, paying the ransom does not guarantee that the attacker will actually provide the encryption key and remove the ransomware.
There are multiple ways for businesses to limit the risk of ransomware, including:
- Educating Employees. Ransomware is often introduced as part of a phishing attack, so educating employees about the risk of malware can do a lot to prevent them from accidentally downloading ransomware.
- Using Virus/Malware Scanning for Email Attachments. Malware scanning software can identify potentially dangerous malware programs in email attachments and block users from downloading them in the first place.
- Using Remote Data Backups. A cloud-based data backup can allow you to recover your lost data by reformatting the corrupted data storage drives and restoring them from the backup. However, it’s important to:
- Make sure the ransomware is completely removed from your systems; and
- Back up your most important data frequently to minimize data loss.
Cybersecurity Threat #3: Uneven Cybersecurity Protections
According to data from the Verizon Data Breach Report, nearly 60% of data breach incidents in 2016 could be attributed to “hacking,” or direct intrusion attempts made by people outside of your organization attempting to bypass your perimeter network security in some fashion—though that percentage has fallen off over the last year. Yet, despite fewer incidents being attributed to “hacking,” the danger that these outside attacks pose has not lessened in the least.
Hacking attacks can target numerous vectors, but they typically try to probe a business network’s weakest defenses. An uneven security layer between your network and attackers can serve as the entry point they need to penetrate even the toughest defenses—all because ONE asset on your network lacks some key security measure used to protect everything else.
An example of this would be the JP Morgan Chase data breach from 2014. As noted in a New York Times Dealbook article published after the breach, “JPMorgan’s security team had apparently neglected to upgrade one of its network servers with the dual password scheme, the people briefed on the matter said. That left the bank vulnerable to intrusion.” Although the bank had dual-factor authentication (DFA) to counter password theft-based cyber threats, because one asset on the network didn’t have that authentication upgrade, it became an easy entry point for what was, at the time, one of the biggest bank breaches in history.
So, if you apply a new security solution to your business network to counter some specific type of cybersecurity threat, it’s important to make sure that the solution is applied to the entirety of your potential “attack surface.” Otherwise, the one asset on your network that isn’t protected as well as everything else could become the vector for an attack.
Here, performing regular IT asset audits is important for verifying the status of all the assets on your network and making sure that every cybersecurity solution is applied consistently throughout. Risk assessments can further help you prioritize what kinds of solutions need to be applied and identify gaps in your cyber threat protection. Some businesses even use professional security architecture implementation services from a managed security service provider (MSSP) to ensure that there are no gaps or flaws in their cybersecurity protections.
Cybersecurity Threat #4: Unpatched Security Vulnerabilities/Bugs
Other attackers may target known security bugs in popular business software programs—bugs that often have readily-available fixes. All too often, these security updates/patches are not applied to vulnerable software, however. This leaves the business network exposed to outside attack and compromise.
The best solution for defending against intrusion attempts that leverage unpatched vulnerabilities is to create and maintain a rigorous patching schedule. At least once every few weeks, all software programs on the network should be checked to see whether there are any available security patches from the software developer. Any out-of-date software should be patched to the latest security version.
If a software program is no longer supported by the developer, it may be time to uninstall that program and replace it with a newer one that does the same tasks. Making sure every piece of software and IT asset on your business network has the latest security patches can be crucial for preventing a data breach (or, at least minimizing your risk of one).
Cybersecurity Threat #5: DDoS Attacks
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks remain a significant cyber threat to many organizations. These attacks are designed to overwhelm a victim’s network resources so they cannot process legitimate traffic on their network. The methodology of these attacks can vary from one to the next, and may involve varying levels of complexity. This is part of what makes DDoS attacks such a worrisome cybersecurity threat.
As noted in the Securitymagazine.com article mentioned earlier, “DDoS attacks can impact anyone and are often used as camouflage, often being started, stopped and restarted to hide other breaches in progress.” By using DDoS attacks as a distraction, attackers can distract your cybersecurity team—much like how a stage magician redirects the attention of his audience so they can’t see through the trick.
The specific countermeasures for a DDoS attack can vary depending on the methodology of the attack. For example, there are volume-based, protocol-based, and application layer attacks. A solution that might mitigate a volume-based attack, such as simply adding sufficient capacity to handle the fake bandwidth (which is highly inefficient at any rate), wouldn’t be able to counter a protocol-based or application layer DDoS attack. A better solution might be to blacklist IP addresses that are identified as being part of a DDoS attack, but that still may not work for all DDoS attack types.
Thwarting DDoS requires a well-considered cybersecurity strategy that takes a look at the different kinds of DDoS threats you network faces, your available resources, and how to best counter specific DDoS attack types. Here, having the help of a specialized cybersecurity service provider can be invaluable, since they will likely be familiar with the current cybersecurity threat environment and which types of DDoS attacks you’re likely to encounter.
It may even be necessary to set up a disaster recovery (DR)/business continuity (BC) solution to help you minimize the impact of a DDoS attack.
Need help protecting your business network from all of the cybersecurity threats on this list? Or, just need advice for minimizing your security risks? Contact the experts at Compuquip Cybersecurity for more information and advice, or download our guide, 9 IT Practices Putting Businesses at High Risk, at the link below:
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