Over the last year, cybersecurity threats have increased to the point that some experts are claiming we are in a “cybersecurity pandemic,” citing increases in the number of ransomware attacks, data breaches, and online fraud during 2021. This claim is backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which reported a fivefold increase in cyberattacks in last April.
In addition to an increasing number of cybersecurity attacks, 2021 also saw the mass movement to work-from-home. With many employees working remotely, businesses are facing more vulnerabilities than usual. As we explained in our post “Security Tips for Remote Workers,” remote employees operate without the layers of network security they have in the office. This introduces new weaknesses that can have real consequences for your business.
Regardless of where your employees are working right now, it’s important that you understand the cybersecurity threats facing your business. Understanding what they are, how they work, and how they can infiltrate your network is the first step to stopping these attacks. So here’s a run-down of the most common cybersecurity threats you’ll fight in 2022, and the best steps you can take to prevent them.
What are the Top Cybersecurity Threats I Face?
The purpose of any cybersecurity attack is to gain access to things you want to protect. It might be information on your network, or it might be your network itself. One of the main ways hackers do this is through malware.
Malware is any kind of harmful software designed to hurt or compromise a device. This includes spyware that logs your activity and reports it to the hacker, as well as more powerful code that takes control of your computer or network.
There are hundreds of ways cyber criminals can try to hack your system. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself. Here are five of the most common cybersecurity threats and strategies for stopping them cold.
One of the oldest hacking techniques is keylogging, which is where hackers install software that records everything you type on your keyboard or click on with your mouse. Over time, hackers will record their victims typing all kinds of sensitive data, including login credentials, URLs to bank websites, and more that they can use to access the victim’s property.
The most well-known type of malware is undoubtedly the computer virus. A computer virus behaves similarly to viruses that attack the human body—they are packets of code that insert themselves into a “host program” (a vulnerable program installed on your computer) and begin copying themselves, continually spreading to affect other programs.
Similar to viruses, Trojans are files that look innocent but actually contain malware. However, unlike viruses, Trojans must be installed on a computer by a user. These sometimes come packaged with bootleg software. Once you install a Trojan, cyber criminals can do a number of things, including stealing, modifying, or destroying data; installing additional malware; or holding a computer or entire network hostage.
This cybersecurity threat is exactly what it sounds like. A user lands on a malicious site and receives an aggressive pop-up that either cannot be closed or continually opens again and again, locking the user’s browser. Often, the pop-up looks like a message from a legitimate company (such as Microsoft or Norton Security) informing the user that their system is infected and providing a phone number or website link to tech support that will remove the infection. However, the “company” the user pays to restore their computer is actually the hacker holding their system hostage.
Cookies may sound delicious, but in the computer world they are small text files that contain information that helps websites remember you and your preferences. While some websites do encrypt cookies, many do not. Cookies can be stolen through WAP or Man in the Middle attacks, where hackers spy on your online sessions, as well as through malicious browser extensions. Stolen cookies can give cyber criminals a lot of information about you, as well as access to your online accounts.
While a worm sounds harmless, it’s one of the scarier cybersecurity threats on this list. Like a virus, it replicates and spreads throughout a system. But unlike a virus, a worm doesn’t need to be installed or activated and they spread incredibly fast. While worms can be used to steal information, more often they are used to hold a system hostage or to damage a system. This damage can range from a few deleted files to a completely corrupted, unusable network. Worms are actually used in cyberwarfare. One famous worm, Stuxnet, was used to severely stunt Iran’s nuclear program. However, they can be used to attack individuals or businesses as well.
How Cybersecurity Threats Access Your System
Malware only works if a hacker can deliver it to your system. To that end, cyber criminals have developed a number of strategies to trick or force you to download their malware. But just because they’re tricky, that doesn’t mean you can’t defend yourself.
The first step to blocking cybersecurity threats is to know what you’re up against. There are many ways hackers can try to infect your system with malware, but below are some of the most common methods along with strategies to stop them.
Phishing is an attempt to get information from someone through email. It might involve sending a message that looks legitimate, or may even look like it comes from someone you know. Typically, the message will ask you to share login credentials or other personal information, wire the sender money, or download a file. These files usually include malware that can then infect your computer or network to gain information or control.
Bait and Switch
Another tricking tactic is the bait and switch. This is where online thieves switch out paid ads on websites. When site visitors click on one of these switched ads, it may download malware, lock their browser, or take users to a harmful website.
Similar to the Bait and Switch tactic, clickjacking occurs when users visit a website with hidden elements. The visitor may think they are clicking on a button that does one thing, but they are actually clicking on invisible parts of the website that have other functions. There are a number of variants of clickjacking, each with its own purpose. But it can be dangerous when hackers use it to take control of parts of your computer, such as your camera, or to install malware on your system.
This hacking strategy is ridiculously simple. A cybercriminal sets up a free WAP (Wireless Access Point) in public with a name that sounds legitimate, such as the name of a nearby business. Then they monitor traffic on their WAP, gathering all kinds of personal information and sensitive data.
Man in the Middle
Another great reason to avoid public wifi is Man in the Middle attacks. When a network is not secure, hackers can create connections between you and a user you are sharing information with. This allows the hacker to read or change the information you are sharing. Often, the goal is to steal login credentials or other private data, but sometimes hackers can insert malware into the exchange, infecting one or both computers.
Cybersecurity that Works
Your network is essential and your data is priceless. That’s why you need a security plan that works for your business. Don’t take risks—NCI makes effective security simple. Contact us today for a free security evaluation and we can start working on a customized cybersecurity plan for your business.