Ever since the pandemic hit, there has been a sharp rise in the number of cybersecurity threats. But this is understandable when you consider the fact that over a third of the global workforce was forced to work remotely, which meant, an increased dependency on technology, and the cloud, for the storing and transferring of data.
Many cybercriminals have simply used the situation to their own advantage. Unfortunately, there were quite a few data breaches, from the period of 2019 to 2022, many of which resulting in financial ruin for the business. Those threats are only set to increase, as we look further into the years to come.
Many users today, wonder, what kind of attacks they can expect and what kinds of things should they be doing, to protect themselves. In this article, we list a number of common cybersecurity threats to both inform you and prepare you.
So if cybersecurity is a concern of yours, you’ve come to the correct place.
1. Misuse of Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that’s used to describe the countless millions of devices, all connected to one another across the length and breadth of the internet. IoT creates a network of devices that are able to transmit, store and receive information. A lot of organizations have cottoned on to the massive benefits to this technology, and thus, look at ways of utilising it. That said, the very things that make it great, are the very things that make it vulnerable to cybercriminals. The millions of interconnected devices makes it easier for hackers to gain access to and of course, misuse.
A hacker will typically look to the connectivity of a device as a means to gaining access to it. With their new found ability to access these IoT devices, they can now steal data from them and use them for ransom. A lot of experts predict that IoT will constitute the largest cybersecurity threat in the coming years, due to how quickly so many businesses are now adopting the technology. So what are the things you can do, to protect yourself?
All devices have vulnerabilities, a hacker need only time to find it. Given that reality, it would make sense for end users to take the time to properly monitor their devices. They can also go a step further by using complex passwords, as this will make IoT hacks much more difficult. So if you want to secure your hardware, create passwords that can’t be guessed.
2. Social Engineering
One of the most effective, and thus dangerous methods of hacking is social engineering, this is primarily because it relies on human error, rather than technical flaws, to work. This makes these kinds of attacks the type to look out for. The reality is, it’s much easier to trick a human being into doing something they really shouldn’t, than it is to breach a network system. This is a truth many hackers are aware of. Recent reports puts 85% data breaches down to human error.
In this year, and the year to follow, we can expect social engineering attacks, such as email spam and the like to continue, to increase and incorporate new technologies, tactics and trends. For example, over the past couple of years, there has been a 200% rise in the number of cryptocurrency related attacks, and this is not likely to stop anytime soon, as Bitcoin and other block chain based currencies continue to hash out profits for anyone interested in using them.
Phishing attacks are amongst the most common types of cybersecurity attacks, as they involve sending out large amounts of fraudulent emails to unsuspecting computer users. These emails are designed to trick the recipient into thinking it’s from a known reliable source. So the email may look like a legitimate email from their local bank, only, when the end user clicks on the link (within the email) it sends them to a fraudulent site or it downloads a malicious file to the victim’s computer. From there, the hacker can gain access to the victim’s machine, which they can use to install additional malicious scripts or steal information, such as personal financial info, or more.
Phishing attacks also occur over social networks, and other online communities, usually through direct messages. The computer hacker will typically use social networks to father information about their victims, whether its interests, work, or activities, any information that they can use, when attempting to convince their victim into doing whatever it is they want them to do.
When it comes to phishing attacks, there are several kinds for you to consider, these include:
- Whaling: These are attacks that are designed to target stakeholders, and top level executives within an organisation.
- Spear Phishing: These are targeted attacks, which are directed at individuals or specific companies.
- Pharming: These kinds of attacks use DNS cache poisoning, in order to steal confidential information when they attempt to log into a fake landing page (created by the hacker).
Another place phishing attacks can take place are phone services, whether it’s via voice or text message.
4. Cloud Vulnerabilities
For the average user, they may be fooled into thinking that the cloud will only become more secure over time, but the reality is, that’s anything but the truth. Recent reports state that there has been a 150% increase in cloud vulnerabilities over the past five years. Verizon’s DBIR also discovered that 90+% of the 29,000 data breaches that they analysed (in their report) was as a result of web app breaches.
Gartner states that cloud security is amongst the fastest growing cybersecurity market, with an increase of 40+% which is $600 million in 2020 to $840 million in the following year (2021).
While many experts predicted that there would be a massive transition from home to the office space, with the constant new variants and constant spikes in infection rates, this has looked increasingly less likely. This means, that the increasing threat to cloud security breaches isn’t likely to wane in the next 12 months.
So what are the new developments in cloud security? Well, we have the adoption of Zero Trust architecture. These new Zero Trust systems work by operating as though a network has already been infiltrated, by adding required verifications at each step during the sign-in phase, instead of granting access to devices that are recognised or have already access the network.
These new security systems took off in 2021, and is only set to be more popular over the next year or so.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.