Thanks to the growth and popularity of computers, cyber security has experienced steady and consistent growth. Data protection has become more important than ever, and everyone is just now starting to realize that. Businesses have the most to lose, as they witness the kinds of losses a company can suffer if they fall victim to one of these cybercriminals.
Fortunately, there are many places you can go to acquire cyber security information and cyber security help. Below I have identified the current trends in the cyber security industry, which are things you should be aware of.
Continue reading for 7 of the biggest cyber security threats today.
1. Patch Management
A large portion of attacks is targeted at outdated software. As a result, a company that doesn’t keep its software up-to-date is a company that is vulnerable to a whole host of attacks. The moment a cybercriminal learns about a vulnerability in a program or tool, they will immediately look to exploit it.
If we go back to May of 2018, there were two very large cyberattacks launched. These attacks were targeted at an exploit found in the Windows operating system, the exploit was known as Eternal Blue. Microsoft acted fast, and released a patch to fix this vulnerability way back in March, two months before the attack. However, not every organization took the time to update their software, for those that didn’t, they were left exposed. Those companies went on to lose a significant amount of money, just because they failed to update their software when they had the chance.
2. Data Governance and Management Errors
When looking at the enterprise network, one thing you find, is large amounts of unneeded data, which makes monitoring all of it not as effective as one would like. Even data that can be considered the most valuable, will one day expire and thus, should be reviewed regularly, specifically for this reason.
There are many cybersecurity experts that believe one major mistake a lot of companies make, is to hold onto too much confidential and sensitive data for far too long.
Companies keep their data for far longer than they should. All this sensitive data becomes a target for cybercriminals, which in turn increases the risk to the company itself.
In order to reduce this potential threat, companies must adopt good data governance practices. This may include deleting data that is no longer required, as it doesn’t meet regulatory requirements or provide any particular service. When sensitive data, that is not needed, is erased, it not only reduces risk to that company, but it also decreases IT costs, by reducing the amount of infrastructure footprint, and narrowing the scope for any privacy and other things such as regulatory needs.
3. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policies
A large number of companies today are encouraging their employees to bring their own personal devices to work, as part of the BYOD (bring your own device) policy. There are several benefits to this, which includes things like convenience and flexibility. Some also argue that it increases morale and also productivity. While there are a substantial number of benefits, these BYOD policies are also capable of leaving a company exposed to the threats of a cybercriminal.
Hackers find it a great deal easier to hack personal devices than they do company devices, which ultimately leads to an additional avenue for cybercriminals to compromise a company. It’s very important that any BOYD policy is properly reviewed, to ensure employees are following it to the tee, and that they have received the appropriate training to do so.
4. MITM Attacks
A MITM or man-in-the-middle attacks occur when a cybercriminal positions themselves between a server and a device connected to it, with the sole purpose of stealing any communications between the two devices. This data can then be read and/or changed.
MITM attacks occur most often when computer users log onto insecure Wi-Fi networks, usually public ones. The public nature of the network makes it easier for hackers to insert themselves between the victim’s device and the network itself. The victim will then unknowingly pass confidential data through the hacker’s system.
5. Exploits & Exploit Kits
To summarise an exploit, it is essentially a piece of code that is designed to compromise a security vulnerability. Tons of these malicious codes have been developed over the years, many of which by security services themselves. For example, there was a ransomware attack called WannaCry, which spread using a known vulnerability. The exploit itself was actually created by the US National Security Agency, but stolen by cybercriminals and used for their own nefarious ends.
An exploit kit is basically a collection of exploits. These kits are usually available on a rent basis on the dark web, they allow unskilled cybercriminals to be able to automate the attack process, taking advantage of known vulnerabilities.
6. Outdated Hardware
Although a large portion of cyber security threats is software-based, not all of them are. With a large number of applications in development and all the various updates, it can be quite difficult at times, for the hardware to keep up with everything. This in turn leads to possible exposures, which can put the company’s data at potential risk. As the hardware becomes outdated, many of these outdated components may block updates with the latest security measures and patches. Devices that require older software to function, are most vulnerable to cyberattacks, creating potential vulnerabilities that could be considered quite significant. It’s very important that you keep tabs on all your hardware components so that you know when a device has become outdated. Just as you keep all your software up to date, you also want to ensure your hardware doesn’t get too old.
7. Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things or IoT is basically the connection of many devices all over the world, using the power of the internet. This essentially creates a large network of devices that are capable of receiving, sending, and storing data. Because of how convenient it is, a lot of businesses and end-users look to take full advantage of it. But the main thing that makes it convenient is also the thing that makes it vulnerable. Hackers are capable of exploiting its access point, to steal data. As more and more companies start to rely heavily on IoT, many experts feel that this could potentially become the biggest cyber threat in the years to come.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.