Cyber threats can be described as an act with malicious intent that is designed to either steal or disrupt sensitive data. Cybersecurity threats are forever evolving and becoming more complex. As a result, companies are forced to be more vigilant to protect their networks and the data that resides on them. However, to do this effectively, one must have a firm understanding of the various types of security threats one may encounter.
Below is a list of the top cybersecurity threats that you should keep your eyes on:
- Phishing Attacks
Phishing is essentially a form of social engineering, used to fool people into giving up confidential or sensitive data, often through email. It can be somewhat difficult to distinguish legitimate emails from scams, especially for the untrained eye. This is why these types of scams can be so damaging.
Botnets are very large networks that house compromised systems. These systems that are compromised may have their combined processing power used without their knowledge. In most cases, it’s used to carry out additional illegal activity. This may include sending out phishing emails, distributing unsolicited emails (spam), or DDoS attacks.
- Viruses and worms
Viruses and worms are small malicious programs that are designed to cause havoc on the systems of an organization. Such malicious files may target the network or data of the company. Viruses are pieces of code that are designed to replicate themselves into other programs, host files, or systems. These files may remain dormant until they are activated, typically unknowingly by the user. Once that happens, they can spread across a system or network without the permission or knowledge of the user.
A worm is also a self-replicating program; it doesn’t have to copy itself onto those same areas of a system to spread, nor does it require any action by the user. Its primary job is to infect systems around it while being active on its target system. Worms are usually spread by using functions and components of the operating system that work automatically, invisible to the end-user. Once a worm gets onto a target machine, the first thing it does is replicate, infecting networks and computers that lack the necessary protection.
- Drive-by Download Attacks
When it comes to drive-by download attacks, the malicious code is downloaded to the target machine from a website, through an application, browser, or some other means that do not require the acknowledgment or permission of the user. The download doesn’t require activation, which means no intervention from the user is required. The download can be started by something as simple as browsing a website or visiting a specific website. Cybercriminals are capable of using these drive-by downloads to infect systems with banking Trojans which they use to steal personal data, as well as open up exploit kits or other malicious file types.
Preventing These Attacks
One of the most effective and efficient ways of protecting a company from these kinds of drive-by download attacks is by keeping systems up-to-date with the latest patches and updates. This goes for applications, such as browsers and the operating system itself. Users should also be more vigilant while online, and keep clear of insecure sites. Installing internet security software that is capable of scanning sites, will go a long way in protecting your system from these malicious downloads.
- Inadequate Security Technology
Over the past couple of years, it has become a growing trend to invest in software that is capable of monitoring incoming and outgoing data on a network, essentially protecting it from data breaches. Such software is designed to send out alerts whenever an intrusion has occurred. However, these alerts are pointless if there is no one there who can handle them, or at the very least, understand what they mean. Companies nowadays depend too heavily on technology, without understanding that many of these programs and tools require management. Without that management, you’re never truly getting the best out of them.
- Exploits and Exploit Kits
An exploit is a small piece of code that is designed to take advantage of a security vulnerability. Such exploits are created by security services. For example, back in 2017, you had the WannaCry ransomware that was spread through an exploit that was known as EternalBlue. This actual exploit was developed by, and thus got leaked from, the US National Security Agency.
Exploit kits are essentially a collection of exploits. These exploits can usually be rented on the dark web. They allow cybercriminals, who lack the necessary technical know-how, to run automated attacks, exploiting known vulnerabilities.
- MITM Attack
MITM or man-in-the-middle attack, is essentially when a cybercriminal positions himself between a server and an end-user device, in order to eavesdrop on communications, which they can then alter or just read the information underway.
These types of attacks happen most often on insecure public Wi-Fi networks when an end-user logs into the network. Due to their lack of security, this makes it easier for the hacker to position themselves between the network and the victim’s device. The user will then, without knowing, pass confidential data to the cybercriminal.
- Outdated security software
Keeping your internet security software up-to-date is a basic yet integral aspect of technology management. It’s something that should be looked at as mandatory if you want to ensure your data is safe. These security tools are designed specifically to protect against the most common threats. However, if the software is not kept up-to-date, then it will not be able to protect the systems from newly created malicious threats. It’s for this reason that you must ensure regular updates are maintained on all security software on your system or across your network.