Last year saw the highest average cost of a data breach in 17 years, with the cost rising from $3.86 million to $4.24 million on an annual basis, according to the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report. Clearly, organizations must have the correct people and processes in place to prepare for unrelenting cyber attackers.
As CIOs, CISOs, CTOs, and IT managers think about boosting cybersecurity strategies, they should consider what happened in the year prior and what might potentially get worse. Below are some of the cybersecurity threats that remain stubbornly consistent – and must be guarded against at all times.
1) Ransomware Attacks Shift to Smaller Targets
Ransomware attacks are increasing and won’t let up anytime soon. These attacks are a simple and low-risk way for criminals to make quick money.
Law enforcement is focused on egregious and high profile attacks. However, this will only shift the likely attacks toward mid-size and small companies. Responses from law enforcement may not be as strong and the criminal payout from attacking SMBs will still be lucrative.
2) Endless Spear Phishing and Whale Phishing
Phishing attacks continue to target people who have access to money – or the hackers think they do. For example, an employee in accounts payable gets their email compromised, and the criminal download their emails, which will have address books copied from vendors.
Attackers will try to persuade vendors to route money to a new bank, and this will sometimes be successful. Attackers will also use the address book to try and spam new individuals and get their emails compromised by creating an almost endless circle of phishing. Since the threat actors now have a foundation created, they will increase attacks on the users that have been compromised.
3) Crime Doesn’t Take a Day Off
Criminals do not work the typical 9-to-5, 40-hour work week and certainly don’t have vacation days – so they will attack whenever it’s advantageous. Holidays and weekends have historically been a perfect time to gain access to a company or an email system, and this will continue to increase.
When Friday comes around, workers tend to be more checked out and this gives an attacker a massive advantage of two to three days in someone’s account. Organizations need to be more vigilant about compromises on non-operational days.
4) Lest We Forget Network Appliances
Stand-alone network devices, which include routers, firewalls, and switches, are not updated as often as servers within an organization. Attackers know this all too well and will create more targeted attacks against these network appliances.
Businesses typically do not spend the needed downtime required to update these devices – which should change. Internal IT engineers prefer to not update firmware on these network devices due to the apparent threat.
5) Exploiting New Remote Work Staff
Even as Covid mandates lift, employers have changed their traditional “work in office” model. Many employees continue to work remotely – and attackers will continue to try to exploit the situation.
One method criminals are pushing is to get new hires to buy gift cards. Often, new hires will get an email pretending to be “the boss,” asking to buy gift cards or other things, such as a present for a client. Since it isn’t as easy as leaning over to the next employee workspace to ask if this is standard, and new hires are trying to make a good impression, workers may do just as their “bosses” have requested – without asking questions.
The aforementioned cybersecurity trends have been building, yet fortunately there are a lot of proactive and protective solutions that a company can implement to combat these threats. For example, a next-gen anti-virus solution can definitely help out on the ransomware front and a reliable spam filtering solution will help with email.
If organizations stay on top of these key vulnerabilities for cyberattacks, they have a better chance of coming out on top in the years ahead.
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About the Author:
Chip Gibbons is the Chief Information and Security Officer for Thrive.