A report recently released by the Internet Society revealed the shocking growth of cybercrime and the rising cost associated with digital threats. According to the report, although the number of reported data breaches went down in 2018, the financial impact and severity of most types of cyber threats went up compared to the previous years.
The bottom line is, cybersecurity and data protection are still major priorities for businesses reliant on data-based systems and digital resources. Although it’s difficult to paint a full picture of the cyberthreat landscape, it’s at least possible to identify specific trends and new threats.
Emergent digital threats you need to know about
Unscrupulous attackers are always coming up with new ways of gaining unauthorized access to valuable business data and IT systems. Digital threats are continuously changing and evolving, which makes it incredibly difficult, not to mention expensive, for organizations to create effective cybersecurity strategies.
Over the recent years, we have seen attackers use intelligent malware, take advantage of human psychology, and exploit new vulnerabilities we never even thought to protect. It’s become a game of cat and mouse in trying to curb cyberattacks. This has even led to government interventions through the legislation of data protection and privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) in the EU, and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US.
Digital security risks come in various shapes and sizes; it helps to know the kind of threats your business is facing. Here is a look at five of the most common cyber threats.
Sophisticated phishing attacks
Attackers are continuously finding ingenious ways of phishing for information from unsuspecting internet users. A good example is the use of sophisticated AI algorithms and machine learning technology to craft highly convincing messages for use in email phishing attacks. Hackers are also using social engineering to supplement their attack tactics in buying users’ trust and tricking them into sharing confidential information.
In a ransomware attack, the attacker either acquires or restricts access to an organization’s database or critical IT resources and asks for a ransom. Ransom attacks are some of the costliest types of digital attacks. Many analysts blame cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin for helping ransomware attackers to get away with the crimes. Attackers usually ask to be paid in untraceable digital currency.
Internet of Things (IoT) is a useful but surprisingly insecure technology for business automation. IoT devices can link up and communicate with each other via the internet. Sometimes this involves looping within a closed network that may be linked to a more extensive cooperate network. These devices have no standardized security measures, so one weak link can easily compromise the entire system. IoT security devices such as surveillance cameras can also be hacked and possibly disabled remotely.
Cryptojacking is a relatively new trend where attackers hijack corporate computers and servers for crypto mining. Mining for cryptocurrencies is highly resource-intensive, and it significantly slows down the IT infrastructure. This piggybacking attack is often mistaken for systems failure or DoS attacks.
Negative SEO attacks
Negative SEO refers to the use of unethical black hat SEO techniques to sabotage a website’s SERP ranking. This type of attack has become quite popular as the online space grows more and more competitive. Negative SEO is a combination of various attacks that may include DoS attacks, link spamming, bad reviews, content scraping, and the use of fake online social profiles. The attacker can use any tactic to ruin your online reputation and cripple your site’s UX and online performance.
Just how bad are digital threats?
Attackers don’t often target large firms because most of them have robust cybersecurity systems in place. Moreover, successful attacks on big organizations are usually resolved quickly and cannot be replicated. Although there has been a rise in the number of attacks on small businesses, most SMEs have little to lose and not worth the attacker’s effort and time. It’s the middle market businesses that mostly bear the brunt of relentless and severe cyber attacks.
The implications of successful attacks are dire. According to an annual Cost of Data Breach Report, the average cost of a single data breach in the U.S. is just over $8 million. The monetary losses are only the tip of the iceberg. Cyberattacks can also lead to a loss of brand credibility and trustworthiness, not to mention potential lawsuits. The saddening reality is that a majority of small and medium-sized businesses never recover from severe attacks.
Attackers are mostly motivated by three things – financial gains, sabotage and disruption, and espionage. When it comes to mitigating and preventing attacks, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You need to examine your enterprise, find potential loopholes, and set up the appropriate security measures, but that’s often easier said than done.