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Without an effective cybersecurity threat detection and response (TDR) strategy in place, organizations put themselves at risk of severe disruption or even destruction when cyberattacks happen.
It is a matter of when, not if—in 2022 alone, 76% of survey respondents experienced an attempted ransomware attack, with 64% experiencing a compromise. And word that you’re an easy mark spreads fast. Over two-thirds of those compromised experienced subsequent, multiple attacks. Plus, this just accounts for ransomware–there are many other types of security threats lurking. To help you get on solid footing, we’ll cover these fundamental topics to help guide your security strategy:
- What are the common types of cyber attacks
- Where most attacks originate from
- How to keep your company and customer data secure
What Are the 5 Common Types of Cyber Threats?
Below are the 5 most common types of cybersecurity threats facing businesses in 2023:
- Malware, including ransomware
- Social engineering, including phishing, pretexting, and spoofing
- Insider threats, like those posed by exiting/disgruntled employees or simple human error
- Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
- Zero-day vulnerabilities
Malware includes a broad range of malicious applications or elements of code that are designed to disrupt a computer system, network, or server. Cybercriminals are always trying to stay at least one step ahead of IT and security teams, and constantly developing subtle new attack types to evade detection—their tactics shift and evolve, which means your cybersecurity approach must adapt as well.
One of the most common types of malware is ransomware. True to its name, ransomware involves the encryption of an affected organization’s data—with the perpetrator only agreeing to provide a decryption key in exchange for payment (the “ransom”). Technically a type or subset of malware, ransomware can be deployed through (and in coordination with) other attack types, such as the inclusion of a malicious link within phishing emails. Ransomware is highly effective—64% of infected organizations agreed to pay ransom in 2022, while 41% reported paying more than one ransom before regaining access to their data. And, unfortunately, paying a ransom isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get your data back in usable form.
Social engineering preys on peoples’ good nature. Eighty-four percent of breaches target humans as the attack vector, using social engineering and business email compromise (BEC) strategies.
These attacks target individual users and rely on the end user to act as your first line of defense. This is a dangerous position for an organization to be in, and cybersecurity is not pivoting fast enough.
Social Engineering attacks, like phishing, spoofing, and pretexting represent another category of the most common cyberattacks. Also known as “human hacks,” social engineering attacks appeal to—and then exploit—human nature (or human error). Cybercriminals tap into headlines affecting people (think COVID, banking collapse) to compel a response.
Phishing first emerged in the mid-1990s. While it’s a low-tech type of attack, it continues to be effective. An “ishing” attack involves the use of email, SMS, or social media to engage a target, gain their trust, and dupe them into sharing sensitive data such as account numbers, passwords, and so on. During the early days of the pandemic, multiple sources reported a 600% increase in phishing. And in today’s digital landscape, phishing continues to be a huge
problem—84% of organizations faced at least one successful phishing attempt in 2022, while
54% faced three or more attacks!
In a spoofing attack, cybercriminals disguise their digital identity, posing as a legitimate individual or company. Once they’ve gained trust through some fictitious pretext, the attackers will instruct recipients to take some specific action, like clicking on a link (which could be a phishing link) or confirming provided information (through social engineering). Think of a controller responding to an urgent request from the “CEO” to transfer money. It happens more often than you think. While spoofing is a relatively simple-seeming attack type, it still works—otherwise, it wouldn’t be in our list of the top 5 cyber threats!
Pretexting manipulates people into divulging information by instilling a false sense of trust by impersonating someone in the victim’s trusted network. In a pretexting attack, threat actors will ask for information to confirm the victim’s identity. The threat actor uses this information to launch secondary attacks or identity theft. Right now, pretexting is the “it” attack and is able to be deployed in different ways and places, making it hard to defend against.
Whether intentional or accidental, insider threats to cybersecurity are very real and can be utterly destructive when undetected–think of the recent Coca-Cola breach where patented technology was stolen. When an insider threat is present, it essentially means “the call is coming from inside the house.” An insider threat can look like a lot of different things, from compromising sensitive data to wrecking computer systems and networks. The persistence of insider threats underscores the importance of understanding cybersecurity risks and controls and being diligent about monitoring for unusual digital behavior, which could signal an insider threat.
Denial of Service
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are designed to overwhelm an organization’s website or network by flooding it with requests. When a DoS attack i
s underway, it prevents legitimate users from accessing the site or network. When deployed during a busy time or in coordination with other attack types (like exploiting system vulnerabilities) or outcomes (such as outright data theft), DoS attacks can cause significant disruption or downtime—along with the erosion of trust between a business and its customers.
The primary difference between a DoS attack and a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is that the latter is more sophisticated and considerably more difficult to detect and respond to. Rather than originating from a single source, the requests that flood a website within a DDoS attack come from multiple computers or systems.
A flaw in software/firmware/hardware that is discovered and exploited by attackers before the vendor becomes aware of it, or has time to correct it, is a Zero Day vulnerability. By definition, no patch exists for zero-day vulnerabilities and user systems have no defenses in place, making attacks highly likely to succeed.
Essentially, these are vulnerabilities that hackers know about and we don’t. Often, businesses first find out about them when they hit the news headlines.
Where Do 90% of All Cyber Attacks Come From?
According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), over 90% of cyberattacks start with a phishing attempt. From the cybercriminal’s perspective, this makes sense—phishing is a low-level effort for high yield.
When a phishing attack succeeds in compromising a business email, this provides the onramp for criminals to gain access to otherwise protected assets and networks. Phishing is only the first step and lays the groundwork for more sophisticated attacks like the deployment of ransomware or other types of malware.
Phishing and ransomware, in fact, are often used in tandem by modern cybercriminals, succeeding more often and leaving more destruction in their wake. According to the State of the Phish report, there was a 76% increase in direct financial loss from successful phishing attempts between 2021 and 2022. With no reason to believe these trends will naturally taper off, organizations must be forward-thinking and vigilant in their threat detection and response efforts.
How to Protect Against the Latest Cybersecurity Threats?
The security controls that protect you today likely won’t protect you tomorrow. Adversaries are continuously evolving their techniques to evade tool detection, and cybercrime is growing exponentially. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the cost of cybercrime is predicted to hit $8 trillion in 2023 and will grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025.
That’s why an effective security posture is about more than buying a few tools to set and forget. You need a comprehensive and committed cybersecurity mindset and culture. If you’re interested in learning more about how to prevent cyber attacks, you’ve come to the right place.
DataEndure offers a comprehensive managed security portfolio that can accelerate your security maturity regardless of your company size, industry, or regulatory requirements. Wherever you require fortification, we’ve got your back. And if you’re not sure, we can help with a complimentary security health check.