8 Cybersecurity Threats Organizations Can’t Afford to Overlook

The COVID pandemic has put organizations’ cybersecurity measures to the test. As the workforce shifted to remote locations, security teams are constantly battling with ransomware attacks, weak security processes, and other issues disrupting work. 

Unfortunately, all of these issues come with a heavy price tag. 

Small organizations with less than 500 employees lose $7.68 million per security incident. They can also lose more than this if they overlook the following eight cybersecurity threats. 

1) Malvertising and Ad Malware

Malvertising is when multiple redirections occur after a user clicks on an ad. This happens due to malicious content infiltrating ads and sites without their publishers’ knowledge. 

Malicious codes may also be injected into legitimate online advertising networks including ad exchanges, ad servers, retargeting networks, and content delivery networks (CDNs).

These malicious codes allow cyber criminals to target users on highly reputable websites. And that was the case with The New York Times Online, The London Stock Exchange, and Spotify over the past few years. 

While ad malware is often used interchangeably with malvertising, it’s quite different. Ad Malware is installed on a system without the user’s knowledge. It displays unwanted ads that redirect to multiple advertising websites. 

These attacks are normally the result of a vulnerable browser and loopholes in system networks.

2) Internet of Things and Smart Devices at Home 

IoT isn’t only limited to the smart devices you own. It involves all the connected devices outside the critical infrastructure as well. And with the workforce mainly stationed at home, the devices connected include smart home appliances and other smart accessories.

Since cybersecurity measures are limited to laptops and smartphones, all of these appliances can put an organization’s information assets at risk. After all, these devices are connected to the same network. Therefore, critical data may be vulnerable for any kind of malicious attack. 

Businesses should take necessary measures to protect the critical infrastructure, especially when they allow employees to work remotely. 

3) Ransomware 

Ransomware acts like a virus, spreading through your systems, databases, servers, or applications. It paralyzes the whole network and displays messages asking for money to gain access again. 

It’s mainly installed from deceptive links received in emails, via instant messages, or shown on websites. The attacker behind it extracts victims’ sensitive information and demands an amount of money to provide access to it. 

Taking the advantage of the uncertainties of 2020, cybercrimes of this type remain the highest reported all year. In the past 12 months, ransomware victims paid approximately $1.1 million as a ransom fee.

To cope with the threat, CISOs need to follow cybersecurity best practices and mitigate the ransomware risk to prevent its impact on their operations 

4) Social Engineering Attacks

Approximately 269 emails are sent every day. This number has risen immensely over the past year as remote employees use email to coordinate with peers and superiors.

Unfortunately, 1 in every 99 emails is a phishing attack. 

A phishing email asks for employees’ login credentials to access their personal or confidential accounts.  

Adding to this attack’s popularity is the low risk-high rewards it offers attackers. Besides, emails are quick to engineer and spread around.

5) Security Bugs and Vulnerabilities

Targeting vulnerable business software programs has always been a go-to cybercrime strategy. These unintentional flaws can harm systems and result in major losses for a business. Once the business network is exposed to outside attacks, the critical information on it is easily compromised. 

While software vendors tend to introduce patches and fixes fast, cybercriminals are faster. This is because identifying bugs is often complex. Bugs may not occur from flaws of a single software or operating system. Instead, they occur due to interactions between two different programs. 

6) Poor Encryption Practices

Preventing unauthorized access to the organization’s data and assets is the main purpose of encryption. While organizations do take precautionary measures, they often overlook the security of data at rest.

Organizations must have a security platform in place to ensure the protection of data in all forms. If you set an encryption key to your system and provide it to all your employees, the purpose of data encryption will fail. 

Similarly, you need to depend less on developers for protecting software and more on cybersecurity experts. The additional steps they recommend for security compliances can save your data. Therefore, before your development team ticks a “regulatory checkmark”, have experts examine the system once again.

7) DDoS Attacks 

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks involve multiple complexities which intend to divert the attention of your cybersecurity team. They’re highly dangerous as they disrupt business operations and make it difficult to process the legitimate traffic on your website.  

DDoS attack volumes were quite high in 2020. What made them extremely dangerous is their enhanced sophistication and complexity. According to experts, cybercriminals became so bold that they targeted more organizations in more industries than ever before. 

8) Deepfakes 

Deepfakes are AI generated fake videos or audio recordings that are used to deceive people. These gained prominence during the 2020 US elections as they were used for spreading misinformation and creating fake news. 

So how does this impact your enterprise’s security? The act of ‘hacking humans’ is used to breach security and allow cybercriminals access to valuable information and systems. It can merge with other attacks such as phishing attacks to enable access to sensitive data. 

And that’s what happened at Twitter. During a “phone spear fishing attack”, the social media company’s employees shared passwords for internal tools and systems. Criminals posed as IT staff, ensuring employees don’t ignore or question their request. 

So How Can You Be Secure Against these Cybersecurity Threats?

Education is the biggest step you can take towards preventing these security threats. We’re here to help you train your workforce on the best practices of security and continuity, including CISSP, CISM, ISO 27001 Lead Implementer, and more. 

With just one certified professional, you can integrate the most effective security techniques into your infrastructure and develop policies which ensure your measures are followed. 

And if you need more, don’t forget to check out our corporate training options to get the best value. 

About the Author

Currently serving as the Director Advisory Services at Business Beam, Syed Nabeel Iqbal is a lead trainer at LearningCert. In addition to being an established GRC lead consultant, he has over 16 years of industry experience, in which he conducted 10+ successful training sessions. He’s also an internationally accredited trainer for 15+ standards and frameworks, including COBIT, ITIL, and ISO standards.

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