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Looming Threats in the World of Cybersecurity

Financial advantages, business turmoil, or corporate spying, no matter the reasons, cyber threats continue to be a growing concern in the digital world. As technological developments grow at a relentless pace, cybersecurity threats have become more sophisticated. Not only are large corporations the target, but individuals are on the receiving end, too. Though some threats are just nuisances, many are serious internet crimes. These threats can lead to substantial financial loss, tarnished reputation, prolonged lawsuits, and huge penalties.

Cybersecurity threat refers to any possible intentional and malicious attack of an individual or organization to access the network, crucial assets, or confidential information unlawfully. It can be any threat actors behind these attacks: hackers, criminal gangs, terrorists, crime syndicates, or corporate agents.

No one can deny that the COVID-19 outbreak has indeed expedited the incorporation of technology in every aspect of the digital realm. However, unfortunately, it has also uncovered many vulnerabilities and unreadiness. As a result, business and IT companies find themselves vulnerable, as their sensitive data and intellectual property fall victim to unauthorized access. Therefore, it is safe to say that the ongoing pandemic coupled with cybersecurity threats have upended every facet of business life.

Another leading cause that has accelerated cyberattacks in recent years is the lack of qualified cybersecurity professionals. As a result, the attackers continue to take advantage of the voids in the security architecture. Unfortunately, finding out well-versed workforce has always been a challenge for organizations. However, with the growing reliance on digital technologies, organizations should prioritize building a strong security team. On the other hand, the demand for various types of cyber security jobs continues to increase. And this gives all the more reasons for individuals to pursue a career in this field. That way, organizations can fight cybersecurity challenges with a skilled workforce, and individuals can have a high earning potential.

With that said, the following is the list of emerging threats in cyberspace that only highly trained professionals can combat:

  1. Ransomware

According to the WEF’s Global Risk Report 2021, cybersecurity threats continue to be one of the pervasive global risks. Among them, one of the most common types of threat is ransomware. As the name suggests, the attacker blocks or encrypts the organization’s data and demands a ransom amount in exchange for access. In addition, the attacker sometimes also threatens the organization to publish the wealth of data online.

Due to this, companies find themselves in a difficult situation as they need to choose between complicated options. They either need to pay a hefty amount to gain back access or entirely lose control over data and compromise their services. One of the best practices to prevent ransomware incidents is installing a firewall security network or creating a cloud-based data backup.

  1. IoT Based Attacks

The internet of things (IoT) links thousands of devices and equipment all around the globe over the internet. These devices may include cellphones, tablets, smartwatches, webcams, medical equipment, and even automobiles. Not only individuals benefit from this technology, but organizations, too. Due to the convenience, organizations employ technology to gain helpful insights and enhance business operations.

However, with greater feasibility comes more significant risks. For instance, the threat actors can hack the IoT network to cause disruption or lock the device for financial purposes. In addition, IoT-based attacks generally occur because of weak security mechanisms. For example, poor interface and device management, lack of security updates, weak passwords are reasons that can lead to cyberattacks.

  1. Social Engineering

Instead of vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the system, social engineering involves human interaction. The perpetrator manipulates human psychology such that the victim ends up giving confidential information. The attackers hide their identities and disguise themselves as a trusted and authentic information sources. Thus, making the incidents much riskier. The purpose of the perpetrator behind these attacks is generally to cause disruption or theft.

One of the earliest types of social engineering is phishing. In this scenario, an attacker generally manipulates the user through an email. As per the Internet Crime Report by the FBI, phishing was one of the leading cyber-attacks in the year 2020. The incidence rate almost doubled during the last year. Some other forms of social engineering include spear-phishing, pretexting, and baiting.

  1. Advanced Persistent Threat (ATP) Attacks

It is a targeted and advanced type of cyberattack in which an intruder or a group of intruders permeates the network. System vulnerability, infected files, or emails provide the route to insert the malware into the system. As soon as the intruders gain access to the system, they try different malicious techniques to crack the password and control the administrator rights. That way, it becomes easy for them to move freely, observe the activities, and obtain the desired information. After that, it is dependent on hackers to remain in the network or stop the operation once they have achieved the goals. The primary targets for ATP attacks are generally large enterprises or governmental bodies. However, it is relevant to note that such cyber-attacks extend for quite a long time.

Businesses can use software to prevent these cyber-attacks. In addition, the detection of aberrations in outbound data can pave the way for security experts to figure out whether an intruder has attacked the system or not.

  1. Insider Threats

While the majority of the cybersecurity threats occur due to external factors, the harsh reality is there exist threat actors inside the organizations, as well. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the current employee; it can either be a business partner, contractor, consultant, former worker, or third-party vendor.

The attacker deliberately or accidentally takes advantage of the authorized data. Reckless employees fail to comply with the organization’s guidelines and become a reason for insider attacks. For instance, they might click on malicious phishing links or aimlessly send confidential data to a third party. However, some employees intentionally dodge the regulations to damage, steal, or disrupt the data and ruin the business image. Growing awareness about security policies can stop insider threats that mainly occur due to carelessness or ignorance.

Final Words

With the increasing technological advancements and globalization, businesses are constantly at the target of cybercriminals’ new exploits and security threats. These threats have gained momentum lately and become more potent as attackers use modern techniques to swindle enterprises. It’s about time the security aspects of technologies become more transparent, straightforward, and seamless. Organizations need to plan out resources and set a specific budget for cyber resilience. Also, security professionals should come up with robust policies and regulations to fight cyberattacks. However, that’s not only the step required. Security teams should also spread awareness about these policies and educate the employees as organizations navigate the cyber risks in the new normal.

Written by Casim Khalid

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