Cybersecurity threats are very real — not just to businesses but to everyday users. According to the FBI, since 2016, $43 billion has been lost to email phishing targeting businesses and users. Now more than ever, internet users should equip themselves with the appropriate knowledge, technology, and tools to prevent falling victim to cybercrime. The average cost of data breaches in 2022 was more than $4.3 million, according to the data of IBM/Ponemon Institute report.
In this guide, we’ll explore the top cybersecurity threats for 2023 that spell trouble to unsuspecting users.
What is a cyber security threat?
Cyber security threats are intentional acts conducted by malicious parties that compromise data privacy and disrupt the functionality of connected devices. Such actions are carried out by cybercriminals or hackers, using various methods to steal sensitive data, gain unauthorized control or infect the user’s device with malware.
Both organizations and private users can fall victim to cyberattacks. One of the greatest motivations is money, fueled by a recent spate of ransomware attacks. Other reasons could be to gain a competitive advantage by bringing down a competitor’s site by hiring cyber attackers to carry out a DDoS attack.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats
Here are the top 10 cyber security threats that you should be aware of in 2023
As the name describes, ransomware is a specific type of malware that encrypt files, steals sensitive data, or locks users out of their devices. The attacker leaves a ransom note demanding that the victim pay the ransom within a stipulated period to regain access to the files. Some attackers might expose the stolen data to the public if payment is not made.
Phishing is a social engineering tactic that tricks users into carrying out a specific action. Cyberattackers usually send phishing emails that manipulate users’ emotions to gain valuable information such as credit card or banking credentials.
For example, you might receive an email “from your bank” saying that your bank card is not working and that they need you to verify the card number. Some attackers use phishing to launch secondary attacks by getting the users to download malware-infected attachments. For example, it could be an email from a popular online shopping site encouraging you to download a discount voucher.
Also, there is another form of phishing called “Smishing“. It is almost the same, as phishing, but this time the attacker uses SMS text messages.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is a cyber security threat that focuses on incapacitating a targeted computer or server by overwhelming it with streams of data. The attacker infects a group of computers with malware, turning them into botnets (a network of “bots”). Then, the attacker triggers the botnets remotely to send a vast amount of data and crashes the targeted server.
Want to know how to protect yourself from DDoS attacks and prevent them, read this post.
Man-in-the-middle attack involves a stealthy cyber attack where the hacker lodges themselves between the user’s device and the destination server. The hacker would then intercept and alter data transmission from the device unbeknownst to the victim. Such attacks usually happen on a public WiFi network, where security is lacking.
Another kind of man-in-the-middle attack is DNS hijacking. The attacker interсepts your IP address and return the wrong IP address when a browser sends a query. Instead of sending to a right website, the perpetrator intercepts or redirects the query to trick your browser into displaying the wrong website.
Businesses are shifting to the cloud because of cost-efficiency, accessibility, and scalability. Despite the convenience, it is easy to assume that cloud infrastructure is inherently secure. Cloud computing is a complex architecture involving an extensive distributed server network with many possible attack points. Both clients and vendors are responsible for strengthening the cloud’s security and safeguarding stored data. Want to know more about cloud storage and their security? Here, we have a great post about cloud storage security.
As the work-from-home culture becomes ingrained in the business community, the security spotlight shifts to devices users use to access corporate data. Endpoint devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, or flash drives, can compromise the organization’s network if they are not secured with biometric locks, antimalware, and other protectionary measures.
Lack of cybersecurity awareness
Cybersecurity incidences can often be traced to inadequate awareness amongst employees, leading to bad security habits. For example, phishing can only be successfully carried out if the victim is convinced to divulge sensitive data. Therefore, it’s important to increase the awareness of cybersecurity amongst employees and train their employees to adhere to security guidelines.
Outdated security patches
Many organizations invest in threat detection programs that keep malware and other malicious threats from infiltrating computer systems. However, updating these security applications with the latest patches is equally important. These updates enable the security programs to detect the latest malware, virus, trojans, worms or other threats.
Organizations might inadvertently put confidential data at risk when they subscribe to third-party services. For example, businesses may use an external payment gateway to process sales transactions. By doing so, they pass the customer’s payment data to a third-party service, which could be at risk of attack. Another risk of using third-party services is that you can instal a keylogger with other software on your PC. Keylogger is a software that tracks all you activity and records all kinds of information like: passwords, credit card details.
Not all cyber security threats originate from sources outside an organization. Sometimes, a threat can go unnoticed in the form of a disgruntled employee or careless user. Either way, insider threats are hard to pick up because they might compromise data from within the perimeter security.
How to protect against common cybersecurity threats
To protect oneself from ever-evolving cyber security threats and vulnerabilities requires a top-down approach that focuses on prevention, detection, and response strategies.
The first and most important layer is prevention. Users must be trained on cybersecurity best practices and awareness of possible threats. For example, employees are advised to discard suspicious emails and use a VPN to encrypt data transmission.
Organizations and individuals should install advanced threat detection mechanisms to detect suspicious activities or transmission spikes within the network. These cyber defense applications allow organizations to respond immediately if they are breached.
A proper response plan should address data recovery, backups, threat containment, and business continuity. Besides ensuring undisrupted operations, the IT security team should conduct an extensive post-mortem and remediate system vulnerabilities after an attack.
Do firewalls stop hackers?
The firewall acts as the first line in cyber defense and can stop basic types of cyber attacks. However, firewalls aren’t foolproof and cannot prevent attacks like phishing. The firewall might also be less efficient in stopping complex cyber security threats like DDoS and SQL injection attacks.
Why is cybersecurity important?
Cybersecurity ensures that organizations and individuals are capable of accessing the internet securely. By implementing cyber security solutions, businesses ensure that sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), is protected against unauthorized access.
What are the consequences of a cyber attack?
Cyberattacks are known to cause vast damage to the financial standing, reputation, and operations of businesses. According to a UK survey, medium and large businesses suffer an average £19,400 when cyberattacks hit them. Monetary damage aside, cybercrime can also bring down facilities, such as power grids, which can disrupt the lives of millions.
Increasing awareness of cyber security threats is the first step in preventing attacks.
Practice good security habits and use updated technologies to safeguard your device and data. It’s also important to devise a threat mitigation plan to deal with possible attacks and minimize disruptions. Also, check our post with work from home cyber security tips and discover how to protect yourself from all types of cyber security threats at home.