The best way to deal with a cyber attack is to prevent it, and the best way to protect yourself against a threat is to learn about how cyber criminals operate, and the attacks that they’re most commonly perpetrating.
There are evergreen cyber security threats that remain common due to how lucrative they are for criminals, and emerging threats that are changing the way our digital world works.
Evergreen Cyber Security Threats
They’ve been around since the beginning of the internet, and their longevity proves how useful they are to cybercriminals. The following schemes and scams are always evolving, which makes it more important than ever to arm yourself against them with the latest knowledge available.
Credential harvesting has always been and could always be a profitable crime for cybercriminals to commit. It’s defined as the process of illegally obtaining confidential login information, using a variety of techniques, and for a variety of illicit purposes.
Some of the most common avenues toward credential harvesting are phishing, Man in the Middle attacks, and password dumping tools, like MimiKatz. This tool can extract passwords by hacking into a system’s memory. Once a system is compromised, an entire organization can be at risk, as attackers can use a single system as an entry point into an entire network.
Depending on the type of organization, credential harvesting can have all sorts of damaging effects on a business. Once a hacker gets into a network, they can hold business-critical information hostage, and wreak all sorts of havoc.
Phishing and Spearphishing
Despite the long-term usage of phishing schemes, 90% of data breaches are attributed to phishing. Even people who would consider themselves sophisticated internet users can be taken in by these scams. Cyber criminals are constantly refining their techniques and sending out more attacks, for a higher chance of success.
While it’s a huge problem for individuals, phishing can be devastatingly costly for businesses. They can lose data access, business continuity, reputation, and depending on the industry, even be fined for non-compliance with data confidentiality laws.
Yet even though 86% of organizations report at least one user attempting connection to a phishing site, the attacks continue to run rampant, and staff often fall prey to their schemes.
Phishing has evolved into spearphishing, which takes more time and work for hackers, but can pay dividends in the end due to its effectiveness. Spearphishing takes phishing to the next level by researching and using trusted names within an organization to send the malicious links or requests for sensitive information.
For example, if a business’ CEO’s name is Bryan Jones, and his business email is [email protected], a spearphisher might use the email [email protected] to try to trick an employee to breach company security. They will often use charged language and urgent requests to play on people’s emotions and more easily convince them that an unusual request should be complied with.
The weakest link in many digital security systems are the people who use them. Unlike computers, people can act against established rules and protocols. Spearphishing takes advantage of this weak link with ever-more sophisticated tricks that sometimes even fool the most savvy of employees.
Man in the Middle
Man in the Middle (MitM) attacks have become more prevalent than ever since the boom in people working remotely.
MitM attacks can occur in two different forms. One can occur remotely, when a cyber criminal sends a vicious link. Taking the email example above, a spearphishing email could be a prelude to a man in the middle attack, where the vicious link is a spoof login page or form monitored by cybercriminals to steal information.
The other common form of MitM is perpetrated by cyber criminals who set up a seemingly innocuous public wifi network, and then monitor and steal information from the traffic that flows through it. Any unsecured or public network could be a hotbed for MitM attacks, the bane of remote workers.
The original famous Trojan Horse was a gift that hid a vicious attack. Digital trojan horses use the same idea. Cyber criminals will insert malicious code into a seemingly innocent link or program. When the victim runs the program or opens the link, the Trojan Horse will then do it’s dirty work, which could include anything from data theft to spying.
Emerging Cyber Security Threats
The technological advances of the past thirty years would be almost unthinkable to anyone who hadn’t experienced them. Unfortunately, amazing advances that help humanity keep pace with the many techniques criminals will use to try to take advantage.
Keeping on top of cyber threats is imperative. You never know which new threat could be the one to take down your business, unless you’re aware and ready for them all.
Supply Chain Attacks
Before the digital revolution, supply chain security was a predominantly physical concern. You’d protect physical products through security guards, inventory, and careful tracking of property through the possession of facilities, employees, and vendors.
The digital supply chain inevitably follows physical supply chains these days, to account for advances like tracking information, tamper resistance, patching, and improved transparency in establishing provenance. But as digital touchpoints enter supply chains of all shapes and sizes, so do footholds for bad actors to attack.
Supply chains present especially complex digital security problems due to the fact that multiple parties are privy to them. Each business that touches the supply chain probably has a unique security processes, tools, abilities, and vulnerabilities. This means that while your own security processes may be up to snuff, a link in the chain that you aren’t even be aware of could be the weak one leading to an attack on your business.
Another issue in supply chain attacks is how quickly bad actors are developing methods to attack supply chains. There’s been an increase in cyber attackers using artificial intelligence (AI) programs that learn how to attack more and more effectively all the time.
Internet of Things (IoT) Attacks
The Internet of things refers to the explosion of network-connected devices. Smart watches, smart TVs, ATMs, toll cameras and more are connected to internet networks, making our lives more automated and easier than ever before.
But the darker reality of the IoT is that for every connected device that paves the way for a smoother, more connected life, a potential foothold for cyber criminals is born. Internet of Things devices can be especially vulnerable to cyber attack because they are designed for general use, and may not have established security protocols. The attacks tend to originate from software, applications, and communication channels.
Hackers bypassing the stricter security of computers and smartphones can use these lack of security on most IoT devices to commit the same types of crimes they would if they had been able to attack the network directly in the first place. They can commit cyber crimes such as physical tampering, eavesdropping, MitM attacks, malicious code injection, password theft, data theft, and netrok infiltration.
Number One Cyber Crime in 2022
This cyber crime is one that most consistently causes massive damage, leaving waves of devastation in its wake. Knowledge is the most important tool we can use in our arsenal to fight against cyber threats. The more we learn, the more we’re able to detect, fight against, contain, and eliminate cyber attacks.
Business Email Compromise
The biggest cyber crime threat, especially to SMBs, is business email compromise (BEC). As of this writing, BEC has cost $43 billion dollars. These kinds of financial losses severely harm and sometimes destroy businesses. BEC is extremely widespread, with victims in over 90% of the world’s countries.
Business Email Compromise is a specific cyber threat that falls under the spearphishing schemes. Like all spearphishing schemes, it works through social engineering, the persuasion of regular people into making questionable digital decisions. The cyber criminal will either spoof a work email account like in the email example used above in the phishing and spearphishing section above, or break into a legitimate account to send their malicious emails directly from a trusted account.
The financial victims of BEC are often not the ones who own the compromised account. For example, the compromised email could send a spoofed log-in page to a client or vendor, who will then get their login information stolen. For this reason, BEC is almost impossible to predict.
MFA (multi-factor authentication) could be a big help in preventing BEC by making accounts more secure. Most importantly, it’s crucial to train employees on what to watch out for with BEC and other digital scams, and to have a culture of transparency about attacks in order to mitigate damage.
Protect your Business, Protect Yourself
Manufacturing was the biggest ransomware target in 2021, and businesses in the healthcare and financial services industries are always under attack from cyber criminals looking for huge paydays.
But no matter what industry your business is in, unless you’re certain you’re protecting yourself, you could be vulnerable. For most SMBs, a cyber attack is not a matter of if, but when.
The most important prevention tactic is deploying security specialists who will work even more tirelessly on your behalf to protect you as those cyber criminals who would steal everything from you.
Find out today how GroupOne could help you design and build a specialized security plan to keep your business, and everyone who interacts with it, safe from attack.