The world of cybersecurity is ever-changing and new cybersecurity threats surface almost daily. The results of a successful cybersecurity breach results in significant damages to businesses of all sizes. The average cost of a data breach in the United States is $9.4 million, and phishing attacks steal $17,700 per minute.
It is more important than ever for companies to protect their sensitive information from phishing attacks and data breaches. Cybersecurity risks must be assessed and countered to preserve business integrity worldwide. As a result, learning about current and potential future cyber threats is essential.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity protects networks, data, and devices from unauthorized access or unlawful use. The process of providing cybersecurity services involves preventing and detecting cyber threats and responding to cyber attacks. The Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency describes cybersecurity as an art, and this may well be the case.
With the dynamic nature of new cybersecurity threats, cybersecurity itself has to remain a step ahead of cyber criminals and their attacks. Today, almost everything businesses do happens online, and as a result, cybersecurity efforts have to cover a broad spectrum of subdomains.
There are cybersecurity threats for businesses small and large. If there is a weakness anywhere in a company's overall protection, all its sensitive information becomes vulnerable. An excellent place to start when it comes to such a pervasive threat is a cyber risk assessment.
Top Cybersecurity Threats in 2023
It's very clear the cyber threats are not on the decline. In fact, new cyber threats surface every day, and cybercriminals will always find new ways to hack into systems and steal information. Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important for this very reason, and companies must know about existing threats in order to understand how to better protect their organization. Here are 10 of the latest cybersecurity threats we will likely see more of in the coming year.
1. Phishing and Smishing
Phishing is one of the most reported cyber crimes in the U.S., resulting in countless financial losses yearly. The goal is to steal sensitive data and credentials, such as login or credit card details, and trick individuals into allowing the installation of malware. Phishing methods can disengage security controls while the attacker browses the company's data undetected.
Smishing follows the same principles as phishing, but the bait messages are sent over SMS instead of email. The attacker assumes a trustworthy identity and targets mobile devices to gain access to sensitive information. When these mobile devices are connected to the company network, the attacker gains access, stealing customer and employee data and leaking an organization's source code.
Phishing and Smishing Solutions
There are a variety of ways an organization can protect itself and its employees from phishing attempts, including the following:
- User education: Employees must be able to recognize phishing attempts and understand they should not respond to any communication requests. Organizations must encourage employees to report any suspicious activity so that further security measures are implemented when needed.
- Intrusion detection systems and spam filters: Having these systems in place will help identify and block unauthorized emails from reaching their intended recipient in many cases.
- Strong authentication tools: Multi-factor authentication and strong, regularly updated passwords can slow down would-be attackers.
Ultimately, there is no standard solution for phishing or smishing, as each business has its own weak points. As a result, many companies opt for a professional cybersecurity threat assessment to provide a tailored solution to individual enterprises, depending on their needs.
Malware — short for malicious software — comes in many forms. Attackers design malware to have hard-to-detect and constant backdoor access to a business's devices. Then, they can control the machine remotely and use it to steal data, investigate the local network or send spam from the infected machine. A staggering 91% of cyberattacks begin with a phishing email, so phishing and malware often go hand-in-hand.
Infections are relatively common and can heavily impact a network by stealing data and passwords, slowing the systems down and deleting files completely. The equipment infected with malware is often rendered unusable, resulting in the expense of replacement equipment, which can be crippling for small and medium businesses.
Malware is not restricted to the original computer. It spreads through an organization's network rapidly, which means the entire organization can be threatened in no time.
Due to the pervasive nature of malware attacks, the prevention of malware attacks must be approached from several angles. A cybersecurity risk assessment is one of many preventative measures you can take, which might include the following:
- Security software: Advanced, up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software is a must for employee devices.
- System updates: Malware attacks change daily, so ensuring your system is always up-to-date and able to handle new challenges can protect your organization from evolving threats.
- Network security: Networks must be assessed regularly to identify weak points and scan for malware. Security must be upgraded periodically for maximum threat mitigation.
- Employee security training: Data security breaches are often the result of human error. Educating employees about malware and how it enters your computer systems will help them understand the risks and recognize malware attempts.
This form of malware can result in catastrophic business losses. Once the malware is in your system, it locks it up and denies you access to critical data until you pay a ransom to retrieve your sensitive information and regain control of your systems.
Ransomware leaves businesses with a tough choice — pay their attackers or lose their data and access. Many companies choose to pay the hackers, but even when business owners pay the ransom, they do not always receive access to their data.
As ransomware has evolved, hacker efforts have transformed to target more extensive operations in a more sophisticated manner. But smaller businesses are no exception for hackers. Attackers know that smaller companies do not always have the resources to back up their data effectively and are likely to pay the ransom to ensure their continued operation.
Since ransomware is a type of malware, it enters your systems similarly, so the same preventative measures are needed from the beginning. Aside from these, some other ransomware prevention methods include the following:
- Up-to-date systems: Hackers find holes in older systems quickly, but cybersecurity improvements roll out frequently and will help you to stay one step ahead of the hackers.
- Separate backup systems: Ensure your data is backed up often and keep it unattached from your network. Attackers will have more trouble accessing it if it's stored separately.
- Good cyber hygiene: Have an inventory of all the machines connected to your network to identify malware exposure.
- Virtual private network services: Virtual private networks (VPNs) are essential when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, as they put your data at risk.
- Incident response plans: Plan ahead to try and ensure business continuity in the face of an attack. Test your incident response and identify weak points so you can make adjustments before a genuine ransomware attack.