The Top Five Cybersecurity Threats to Watch Out for Now

Avatar for Trevor ParksBy Trevor Parks|Aug 9, 2021|7:30 am CDT

Enterprises everywhere need to watch out! With cybercriminals increasing their ambitions, constantly evolving hacking techniques year over year, and with more remote work business models providing more attack surface for hackers, executives must plan for the inevitable. After all, 64% of companies worldwide have experienced at least one form of a cyber attack. IT leaders must know how to respond when a security breach happens, because it will happen. As such, every organization should be prepared for these top five security threats.

1. Ransomware & malware: Remote work creates more risk

Ransomware is increasing by 150% year over year, which roughly translates into someone becoming a new victim every 14 seconds. Using malware or software to deny access to a computer or system until a ransom is paid, these threats are more costly than traditional data breaches alone. But ironically, it’s not the threat of paying a ransom and the cost of stolen data that’s pushing executives to heighten their security protections. These days, the motivating factor is minimizing the most expensive impact–the broader organizational disruption of a cyber attack and the cost to both clean up the network and restore business operations. Ransomware is on the rise, and it will cost more than you might think. Take a look at these statistics from IBM’s 2020-2021 Data Breach Report:

  • $4.24M was the average cost of a data breach in 2020, and when a remote worker was a factor in causing the breach, it cost the company $1.07M more
  • The average number of days it takes an organization to identify and contain a breach is 287 days, and when 50% of organizations had their users working remotely, it took 58 days longer
  • Email is responsible for around 94% of all malware, and 20% of breaches were initially caused by compromised credentials, such as credential-stuffing attacks (compromised passwords)
  • Lost business and lost revenue represented 38% of breach costs — Don’t miss Masergy’s work-from-home security do’s and don’ts.

2. Endpoint attacks: Remote, cloud and SaaS trends make it easier for hackers

As companies move more and more resources into the “cloud”, attack surfaces will continue to grow in size, thus making it easier for intruders to get past security measures. With the bring-your-own-device culture that we live in today combined with the proliferation of SaaS providers for data services, hackers have plenty of attack vectors from which to choose.

The challenge that organizations face today is securing access into these off-premise resources, which are commonly used as stepping stones for bad actors to get into your network. After all, every attack begins at the endpoint, whether it serves as the true target or not. So, whether the risk comes from the unauthorized use of Shadow IT applications co-mingled with company resources or users simply getting “pwned” (hacked) off the corporate network through other means, the threat to the user endpoint is a real challenge that has yet to be solved.

Here is a guide to endpoint security.

3. Phishing: More sophisticated than ever

Phishing has long been proven to be one of the cheapest and easiest ways to compromise targets, which is why it remains the #1 cyber attack vector for hackers. More often than not, phishing attacks appear to be normal, everyday emails from trusted sources but deliver malware to your computer or device, giving the hacker the critical access they need.

With the widespread use of video conferencing applications and SaaS services like Dropbox, Slack, Office 365, Salesforce and others, hackers are improving their impersonation skills with more sophisticated attack types ranging from credential stuffing to advanced social engineering methodologies. The content is becoming more relevant and interesting to potential victims, luring them to engage and divulge information. As a result, these attacks have become more difficult to recognize, even for tech-savvy users.

4. Third party & supply chain attacks: On the rise

A supply chain attack (also called a third-party attack) occurs when your system gets infiltrated through an outside partner or provider that has access to your systems and/or data. With more digital supply chains and service providers touching more enterprise data than ever before, the attack surface has dramatically changed. Hackers have wider opportunities, and these types of attacks are becoming more apparent. Learn more about supply chain risks.

Software updates and security patches are critical protections, yet another area of vulnerability when working with third parties. Most third-party software is dependent on external libraries and resources for updates and patches. If these external resources are compromised by bad actors, they can easily redirect system updates to malicious servers to deliver malware to their victims.

5. AI- and ML-driven attacks: Cybercrime evolves with advanced tools

Machine Learning (ML) and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches are now being used to fight cyber crime, becoming “table stakes” in all modern security strategies. But the same tools are being used against us.

As ML and AI become more readily available to the masses, hackers are using them to enhance the sophistication of their attacks. With these tools, attacks can be multiplied and cybercrime can reach all-new heights. We’re already seeing the evidence! Many of the recent widespread ransomware attacks are ML- and AI-driven.

The threat landscape is constantly evolving. Thus, it’s crucial for companies and all privacy-minded users to heighten their awareness around the latest cybersecurity threats. While it’s possible to mitigate risks on your own, many IT departments now pass this task to trusted managed security services providers, like Masergy.

Masergy offers managed detection and response security services with 24/7 monitoring to rapidly identify threats and minimize the amount of time hackers have inside your system. Learn more about Masergy managed security services.

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