Six Cyber Security Threats To Watch Out For This Year

The risk of cyber security threats has grown exponentially over the past few years as the world becomes more and more digitised. This transition was heightened by the pandemic as remote working became the norm and more data was transitioned online.

The more that’s online, the more that’s available for hackers to potentially access and cause disruption. It’s important to protect yourself against cyber attacks, so it’s useful to know what to look out for.

 

What are cyber security threats?

A cyber security threat is a malicious attack on either an organisation or an individual in an attempt to steal or damage their data or disrupt general digital life. This includes things like harmful computer viruses and data breaches.

 

Why are cyber security threats dangerous?

Cyber security threats can happen to anyone. Whether you’re a big corporation or just an individual on the internet, you can still be a target. They are dangerous because once hacked, sensitive data is accessible and can be exploited. It’s hard to gain control when an attacker is within the system – you may also be unaware that your information is even at risk.

What are the common themes and types of cyber security threats?

Most people are aware of the most common types of cyber security threats such as malware, phishing and ransomware attacks. Whilst there are many different types of cyber security threats they all tend to fit in the following main three themes:

Disruption

Cybercriminals aim to disrupt, using malware and viruses to hack into databases containing potentially sensitive information. There is a dependence on fragile connectivity, which increases the risk of business operations being compromised.

Distortion

Without a doubt, the internet has made access to information very easy, which has been both good and bad. Most people are aware that ‘fake news’ is spread around online and sometimes it can be hard to decipher what is true. This is something that aids cyber security threats as the spread of misinformation (mostly via bots) causes a decline of trust in information.

Deterioration

Deterioration focuses on the conflict created between rapidly advancing technology and the evolving demands required by national security, as this reduces an enterprise’s ability to control information.

 

Six of the latest cyber security threats to watch out for

We’ve listed underneath six cyber security threats businesses should be made aware of and keep their eyes peeled for.

1.     Cloud vulnerability

The cloud is really useful for storing data and for enabling people to access it remotely. More and more companies are therefore using the cloud as one of the main places to backup and store data.

However, the cloud is one of the most vulnerable places because of the sensitive data relating to employees and business operations stored on it. Therefore, using cloud vulnerability to launch an attack is one of cyber security’s biggest threats.

Cybercriminals are purposefully targeting the cloud because of this and the threat of data breach is high. It means that it’s now more important than ever to invest in a robust cloud security strategy.

2.     AI fuzzing

AI fuzzing is a technique that uses machine learning to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities within a system. It’s something that can actually be useful for companies to find flaws that make them vulnerable to attacks so that they can fix them and make their security more robust.

However, cybercriminals also have access to the same information and can get there faster, therefore exploiting the vulnerabilities found through AI fuzzing to make an attack.

3.     Machine learning poisoning

We can all agree that machine learning has been useful in automating many things and freeing up time and skills that can be used elsewhere.

However, machine learning poisoning preys on these computer systems and ‘poisons’ the training data the algorithm uses so it misidentifies information and weakens it.

4.     Smart contract hacking

Many businesses use smart contracts for important business transactions. They are designed to self-destruct as determined by the coding, which is usually based on a pre-set agreement such as a specific deadline.

Due to the nature of the information contained in these contracts, they are a prime target for hackers. If they are compromised, the typical consequences are:

  • The funds being locked indefinitely
  • The information is leaked
  • The contracted is killed

5.     Social engineering

Social engineering is challenging to combat and it’s something often less internet-savvy people tend to fall victim to. It relies on manipulating and deceiving users in order to gain access to their computers.

This is typically through links that mimic trusted sites and appear legitimate but are actually malicious or other forms of deception. Often this type can be referred to as phishing attacks, which is commonly done through email or text messages, tricking people into giving away key information such as passwords or bank details.

6.     Deepfake

Deepfake uses AI-based technology to alter videos or audio, swapping faces or sound to create impersonations of people like CEOs in order to create disruption. Many attacks have used deepfake videos to impersonate key stakeholders at companies and use them to tarnish their reputation or even steal millions.

 

Other cyber security threats you may not know about

We’ve already listed six cyber security attacks that you should watch out for, but there are some other lesser known ones that can still post a threat.

Man in the Middle (MitM) attacks

A man in the middle attack is one in which there is a hacker intercepting the communication between the victim and the end goal.

This could be in the form of phishing; for example, a man in the middle may send an email that appears to be sent from a bank containing a link that is actually a gateway for the man in the middle to load malware onto the victim’s device.

Or it could be as simple as an interception of a message where the attacker then alters the message. This has previously been used as an attack on military communication.

Denial of service attack

This is where an attacker gains control over multiple devices (potentially up to thousands) and aims to flood the network or service with a surge of traffic so that the system is unable to fulfil legitimate requests.

This can sometimes also be referred to as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack when several devices that have already been infected are used to launch the attack on the system.

SQL injection

Structured Query Language (SQL) injections occur when a cybercriminal injects malicious code into a server in an attempt to gain access to a database.

If successful, they can not only view the data but also modify or delete it too. This type of attack is only possible when there is already a vulnerability in the software.

Zero-day exploit

The software businesses use inevitably have weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This is why it is important to maintain it and keep on top of these vulnerabilities to stay secure. Often, it feels like a race against time as hackers are also trying to find these weak spots. This is when a zero-day exploit comes in; hackers exploit a vulnerability that the business has yet to identify and they have ‘zero days’ to fix it.

Advanced persistent attacks (APT)

As the name suggests, this type of attack is very advanced and is usually targeted at high-value organisations. An APT uses continuous hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain there for a long period of time. It first focuses on gaining access and then deepening it, moving laterally through the system until it has ultimate control.

DNS attack

This type of attack exploits vulnerabilities in the domain name system (DNS). A DNS is a protocol that translates the domain name of a website that you see in a URL to the IP address. An attacker takes advantage of a DNS, logging into a DNS provider’s website with stolen details and redirecting the DNS records.

 

Why protect from cyber security threats?

With so much of our daily lives on the internet, a lot of your personal information is potentially at risk from cyber security threats – both on a personal and business level.

It’s vital that businesses invest in high levels of security not only for the wellbeing of their business but also because a business is responsible for the safekeeping of the sensitive information of its employees and clients. Your information is also stored within other business systems that you don’t have control over so it’s important that collectively everyone aims to implement robust security systems.

Without protection against cyber security threats, people are at risk of fraud, losing large sums of money and more. Find out about some basic cyber security measures you can implement right now.

There are many ways your data can be at risk from cyber security threats, but investing in a strong security system will remove the weaknesses and vulnerabilities hackers will try to exploit.

Look out for common cyber security threats such as cloud vulnerability and social engineering so you can stop the threat in its tracks.

 

Don’t Forget about the Physical?

As we have discussed, it’s essential, organisations take steps to protect the digital realms, but the risk doesn’t stop with cyberspace.

Your devices, storage, and records may also exist in the physical realm in your office or offices. If breached, these can be just as costly as in the virtual world. You need to report the loss of potential personal data if you lose a USB stick. Imagine if your computers and servers were stolen.

The digital world and physical security world are now not too separate entities but interconnected and interoperable. You can use your online dashboard and artificial intelligence to guard and control access to your premises and assets. You can track staff around a place of work and flag people who are someone where they are not supposed to be. In addition, you can control who has access to what spaces and track objects.

This connected intelligence allows you to secure premises and take steps to physically secure your data, as well as implement cyber security solutions.

 

Read our blog ‘Five things you can do with IPCTTV you didn’t know’

 

If you would like any more information on how you can protect yourself online, have a look at how we can help with our cyber security service, or contact us.