While most people are familiar with overt ransomware attacks, such as when businesses are hit with a ransom demand by attackers, there are many covert cyber attacks to watch for too. There are many such covert attacks where criminals infiltrate a system and steal critical data without anyone noticing for months, years, or – indeed – ever. Criminals are getting smarter in their approach to cyber threats. Here are some of the top cybersecurity threats to watch for.
The term “malware” is an umbrella term for any kind of malicious software. This includes ransomware, spyware, and computer viruses. Malware generally gets onto a network through a vulnerability or human error, such as clicking on a suspicious email link or installing a compromised application. Once malware is on the system, it can obtain sensitive data from that system, install additional malware through a trojan attack, and prevent businesses and users from accessing vital data and components. The latter is known as a ransomware attack and generally involves attackers encrypting data and demanding a ransom for the tools needed to decrypt it.
This kind of cyber attack is when an attacker sends malicious communications to a target. These communications, commonly emails, appear to come from a genuine, reputable source. The emails have all the same logos, names, and wording as an official email. This is all a trick to lull readers into a false sense of security so that they will click on a malicious link. Cybercriminals have access to a range of data once the attack is initiated, including social security number, credit card number, and login details.
Social engineering is when an attacker psychologically manipulates people into telling them personal information about either themselves or others. Phishing is considered to be a kind of social engineering, where a criminal takes advantage of natural curiosity and trust. There are more advanced versions of social engineering where an attacker uses their voice to manipulate someone. They take the voice of someone from social media, voicemail, or another source and manipulate it to contact friends and relatives asking for personal information, including credit card numbers.
Man-in-the-middle attacks (also known as MiTM attacks) are when a criminal interrupts the traffic of two-way communication. For example, criminals could put themselves between a device and a public wi-fi router to see information on that device. Cybercriminals may be able to see everything sent over an unsecured connection or even gain access to devices using such connections. The worst part is that the victim would never know someone had been spying on them.
The zero-day attack is becoming more common. A zero-day attack essentially happens between the announcement of a vulnerability and what that vulnerability is patched out. Many companies announce that their network safety has been compromised for the sake of security and transparency and to protect users. Criminals take that chance to exploit the vulnerability before it can be eliminated, giving them a window of time to launch their attacks and cause trouble. Even though the name includes the word “day,” such attacks can persist for months or years, depending on how long it takes a vulnerability to be fixed.
There are more security threats out there than most people realize. Malware doesn’t always come rolling in on a chariot through obvious spam ads and emails. Cybercriminals have stepped up their game and are getting better at hiding what they do from victims and experts alike. Make sure you and everyone on your team understand the basics of cybersecurity to keep data secure. Cyber threats cost the economy trillions of dollars each year. Don’t let yourself become another statistic.