Technology has become an integral part of our lives today whether you love or hate it. The digital landscape has expanded as more people work remotely and companies resort to online business. Although this has opened many opportunities and connected people and processes on a larger scale, there is a rise in cybersecurity threats and digital fraud.
Recently, major companies across the globe have fallen prey to data breaches and cybercrime. Cyber-attacks have become more sophisticated, especially in the pandemic. Hence, IT security is the top priority for IT teams of a majority of organizations.
Cybersecurity threats that dominated 2021
Here is a list of major cyber security threats of the year 2021.
- Cloud security threats
- Phishing attacks
- Internet of Things (IoT) Threats
- Remote work threats
- Insider security threats
- Social media threats
- Threat due to mobile malware
- Malicious advertising
Let us look at these cyber threats in more detail.
1] Cloud security threats
As more companies adopt digital transformation, cloud migration has gained precedence. The global cloud services market is expected to reach $1 trillion in 2024 at a CAGR of 15.7%. However, this rapid cloud migration strategy has opened up businesses to many security threats and potential crimes. Cloud storage misconfiguration, inconsistent data deletion, and low visibility and access control measures have increased the cloud security vulnerabilities.
2] Phishing attacks
A phishing attack is one where the hacker emails you links or attachments, pretending to be someone familiar, say your boss or bank, but with an altered email address. They may ask you to give your personal information like your account details etc. Phishing attacks can lead to the loss of company-sensitive information, credential theft, ransomware attacks, and security breaches. Cybercriminals manage to create phishing attacks via the company’s cloud applications. Also, since this type of cybercrime is still new, it can take advantage of the employee’s trust in the company. Companies should take advantage of the latest email phishing software and give relevant employees training to guard against such attacks.
3] Internet of Things (IoT) Threats
With the digital revolution, there is an increase in the usage of IoT devices like smart security systems, smart fitness trackers, that are vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. The year 2020 showed us the IoT botnet. The botnet was added to vulnerable access control systems, especially in office buildings. If an employee enters such an office building via keycard swipe or fingerprint recognition, the infected system would put the employee’s data at risk.
A Deepfake cybersecurity threat uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to manipulate an existing image or video of a person to show something that has not happened. Such deepfake activity is used to commit fraud via synthetic identities and, it has led to the existence of deepfake-as-a-service companies. Deepfakes have also been instrumental in creating more sophisticated phishing scams leading to business losses.
5] Remote work threats
With the start of the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented rise in the number of remote workers. 2021 also saw several organizations opting for permanent work from home that led to an increase in hacker threats.
Remote work is greatly missing the layer of network perimeter security, usually existing in office building infrastructures. Hence, hackers can quickly break through the remote working environment by interfering with the VPNs that are improperly secured and hack the company servers. It leads to vulnerabilities to company-sensitive information.
6] Insider security threats
Insider security threats involve malicious attacks and improper use of data, systems, and processes by employees. They can affect both small and big enterprises but smaller businesses are at a greater risk as employees can access more data and systems through internal networks than in large businesses. A good security measure would be to put appropriate access controls in the organization. Also, the organizations should aptly respond and monitor potential insider threats.
7] Social media threats
Cybercriminals are also targeting the social media presence of both individuals and businesses. This kind of attack includes announcing a fake event or fake product, leading the visitors to click a registration URL that leads to a fake website. It is by using the identity of a legitimate business. Any user entering through the fake URLs is at risk of losing their credentials to potential fraud. Negligible use of proper identity verification methods increases the probability of such attacks.
8] Threat due to mobile malware
Many remote workers are now using mobile devices for work online. This move from desktops to smartphones has increased the vulnerabilities to company-sensitive information. Attack due to mobile malware includes malicious software on a mobile device. With a huge amount of company-sensitive information stored on mobile data, mobile malware attacks can pose serious security threats to an organization.
With drone jacking, cybercriminals use different types of drones to target users’ personal information. Drones are majorly used by camera crews, security systems, and law enforcement agencies. With improper security, they can control the drone hardware and pose security threats to organizations like Amazon that deliver essentials to customers. With drone jacking, the hackers determine how many products will be delivered to how many customers. The aftereffect of such malicious attacks affects the security standards of an organization and its overall reputation with a customer.
10] Malicious advertising
Malicious advertising, also called malvertising, involves using online ads to spread malware. It is by adding a suspicious code into ads displayed on websites via legitimate online advertising networks. It includes “fake alert” attacks where a malicious ad can cause the target user to take harmful action in the interest of the hacker. Scams like “technical support scams” involve the target user unintentionally providing remote access to their systems. It leads to compromising potential sensitive information.
As technology continuously evolves, cybersecurity threats will increase in many different ways. It puts a lot of pressure on companies to build up their security to guard against such attacks. Hence, every organization needs to build its network security, update security measures as required, monitor threats regularly, and respond to them appropriately. Having an apt incident response management can greatly help both the organization and their customers to deal with any crisis.
How can I stop cyber threats?
It is not always possible to stop a cyber threat. But it is possible to stay aware and safe of such crimes as much as possible. Knowledge regarding cyber threats and malicious ways of cyber attacks of the cybercriminals can save the day.