Data breaches and cyberattacks have been on the rise for decades, but this doesn’t seem to bother everyone. Many people believe they are immune to cybercrime, or think they’re safe because incidents aren’t as prevalent as they once were. The reality is that everyone is a potential target.
Below is a list of the most common cybersecurity threats that are unfortunately here to stay.
- Ransomware attacks
Ransomware is one of the most insidious types of cyberattacks because it encrypts files on the victim’s hard drive, making it inaccessible. For companies and individuals who don’t make regular backups of their data, this can be a devastating loss.
Box explains that ransomware employs asymmetric encryption, and the cybercriminal demands money from the victim with the promise of providing the private key once the payment has been made. The problem is, sometimes attackers don’t hold their end of the deal and either delete the victim’s files or sell their data to other criminals.
Statistics predict that the cost of ransomware will rise to $265 billion per year by 2031. The only way to make yourself immune to the impact of a ransomware attack is to create regular backups of your files and keep them offline in a physically secure location.
- Phishing schemes
Email phishing schemes are one of the world’s top three cybersecurity threats and won’t be disappearing anytime soon. These scams rely on social engineering to trick victims into divulging personal information and/or account login information.
Here’s how it works: A threat actor sends an email to an employee of the target company and spoofs the sender’s email address to look like it was sent by someone familiar, perhaps a co-worker or higher up in the company. Sometimes it looks like it came from a company like a bank or somewhere the victim has an online account.
The content of the email asks the victim to click on a link to resolve an account issue, like a payment problem. For instance, the email might look like it came from their bank with content that reads, “we’re having trouble processing your payment. Please visit our website and verify your credit card on file.” When the victim clicks the link, they’re taken to a fake website controlled by the threat actor, but it mimics the real bank’s website. When the victim tries to login, nothing happens, but the threat actor receives their username and password from the form.
These types of social engineering scams have been around forever and there’s no way to prevent them. All you can do is stay vigilant and avoid clicking on links to resolve problems with your accounts. Always visit the website directly if you aren’t expecting to receive a link, like when you request to reset your password.
- Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
While some cybercriminals are happy to quickly target people once and move on, some threat actors employ attacks that take a long time to execute. These are called Advanced Persistent Threats, or APTs, and are considered one of the most dangerous attacks simply because so much damage can be done under the radar.
These attacks start out with threats gaining access to systems, but lying dormant for a while, either to gather more information or wait for multiple components to be put in place. Most APTs are caused by vulnerable software systems that make it easy for attackers to gain access to more than just one target. This is exactly what happened with the SolarWinds attack, although this incident was masterfully executed compared to others.
The best way to defend against APTs is to put the basics in place (firewalls, antivirus software), adopt a zero trust policy, enforce your security policies, and use automated threat detection software.
- Insider threats
Insider threats come from employees and contractors who use their accounts to do harm. Nobody ever expects an employee to launch an attack, but it happens all the time. Most of the time, it’s a disgruntled worker who just quit or was fired and still has access to company accounts. Their main motive is revenge and this is often carried out by sabotaging the company by deleting or stealing data.
You can’t prevent all insider threats, but you can stop former employees from sabotaging company files by revoking their account access either before or right as you meet with them to let them go. As long as you keep a record of what accounts they have, this should work well.
Cybercrime will continue to rise, so be prepared
The frequency and cost of cybercrime has been rising since day one and isn’t likely to reverse. To avoid becoming a victim, amp up your cybersecurity game and don’t leave anything to chance.