Increasing cyber security threats continue creating problems for companies and organizations, obliging them to defend their systems against cyber threats. According to research conducted by PurpleSec, the annual cost of cybercrime has risen to $6 trillion. In fact, 66% of companies have experienced cyber-attacks in the past 12 months.
The 2022 Global Study by Ponemon Insitute outlines key industries that are increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats. The listed industries faced the highest number of third-party attacks during the past year. This is the breakdown:
- Education: 54%
- Manufacturing: 46%
- Financial: 58%
- Public Sector: 50%
- Healthcare: 55%
Let's look at the top ten cybersecurity risks facing the industry today.
Ransomware encrypts a user network or system, preventing users from accessing functionalities until a ransom payment is made to a third party. After a ransom payment is made, an unlock code is released. Ransomware can also steal a company's data and ask for additional payment for not leaking sensitive information to competitors, authorities, and the public.
NIST Ransomware Risk Management Profile (NISTIR 8374) has released a profile for attack vendors, alerting individuals on how malicious and common its usage has become. This virus has been around since the 1980s when criminals had access to encrypted files that they kept hostage till a ransom was paid through the postal service. The first ransomware attack was the AIDS Trojan (PC Cyborg Virus), released in 1989 through a floppy disk.
Commonly known as malicious software or code, malware has been around since the internet's inception and remains a massive risk in cyber security. This software or programming is installed on a target system and affects applications, data, and the operating system.
Malware has become the biggest threat to systems as it denies access to programs, deletes files, steals sensitive data, and spreads itself to surrounding systems, causing widespread disruption and damage.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks overwhelm an online service with incoming traffic from various sources and locations. This affects website response time, causing sites to slow down significantly or entirely shut down.
Even though a DDoS attack may not be the primary attack, it creates a distraction so that other fraud activities can occur without disruption. When this malware is planted, cybercriminals start developing Botnets, which are networks of infected computers. Hackers then use these computers to coordinate an attack against a target system.
The first ever DDoS attack was in 1996 when an internet service provider, Panix, experienced an SYN flood which caused the network to go offline for many days.
Phishing is a term that goes back to the 90s via America Online (AOL). This consisted of a group of hackers known as the warez community who impersonated AOL employees. They became the first phishers to collect company users' sensitive personal information and login credentials.
Cybercriminals pose as official representatives and send messages or emails asking for access to a website or one's account information. The email may include a link to a fake website that asks for confidential information. Mostly, these emails use proper names and logos, so it is hard to distinguish them from authentic emails.
Trojan virus is another risk in cyber security as it disguises itself as a software or harmless file. This virus is highly damaging as it attacks the system and establishes a backdoor that attackers can use whenever they want.
Users may receive official emails that contain legitimate-looking attachments. However, these attachments include malicious codes that corrupt a system as soon as they are downloaded.
SQL attacks manipulate data and are used to access sensitive data that is not usually available to the common public. Third parties manipulate SQL queries to get their hands on important, sensitive information. This is done through a code request sent to the server.
Unlike other viruses, SQL is a computer virus that came about in January 2003, causing a lack of service on internet hosts, which slowed internet traffic down significantly. This virus spread fast, and within 10 minutes, it was able to affect 75,000 victims.
Insider threats differ from the other listed threats because they are difficult to detect. This is especially risky, given the hackers already have access to the systems. It could be a former or current employee or a business partner, meaning the hacker already has the organization's know-how.
This virus requires a different solving approach, as professionals need to be proactive in uninstalling software from old applications, limiting access to software and projects, and removing access from former employees. Moreover, it is recommended to track the usage of devices and find where they are being used to draw out the threat.
Password attacks involve attackers using software to guess passwords till they can guess the correct one. They use personal information, such as an individual's name, family member's name, job, and anything unique that could be used as a password.
The best way to prevent password attacks is by using multi-factor authentication, not writing down the passwords, and utilizing a password manager.
Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering attacks manipulate users into accessing sensitive information the attacker can access. Many malicious social engineering attacks include phishing, spearphishing, and malvertising.
- Phishing is when attackers send correspondence from seemingly legitimate sources, causing the user to click on a link and hand over sensitive data.
- Spearphishing is a form of phishing in which individuals with social influence are targeted.
- Malvertising is when hackers control online advertising containing dangerous codes that infect computers when accessed.
MITM (Man-in-the-Middle Attacks)
A MITM attack is when an attacker gets in the way of a user and application to impersonate either party or eavesdrop. However, the user is unaware of the attacker's presence, making it easier for the attacker to steal personal data.
Targeted common users include e-commerce sites, SaaS businesses, and individuals who use financial applications.
Companies need to protect themselves from these threats by adopting a risk-first approach. A holistic proactive approach supersedes reactive management. While focusing on response plans, companies should also deploy protection strategies like continuous risk assessments and automated control monitoring.
Bolster Your Cyber Risk Management Strategy
Proactive cybersecurity risk management is crucial to managing an evolving cyber threat landscape. Regardless of the specific cyber attack form, proactive risk management will aid security practitioners in managing and mitigating potential threats.
Cyber risk management processes seek to mitigate and analyze new risks; this is primarily done through risk assessments where multiple variables are considered and scored to identify risks by most impact to least.
An effective cyber risk management system will enhance information security and deliver a plan of action with an incident response protocol. These proactive security measures minimize the impact of a cybercrime event and ensure the longevity of business operations and network security efforts across all business functions.
Cyber risks continue to grow every day, each becoming more complicated than the last as attackers continue to change attack methods and tactics in the hopes of accessing the information they need.
There is no denying that corporations and individuals are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Cyber security teams must learn how to deal with threats while strengthening their systems to prevent cyber attacks.