Cybersecurity threats have been on the rise ever since the onset of the pandemic. It makes sense, considering that 35% of the global workforce was forecasted to turn remote, emphasizing technology and the cloud for storing and transferring confidential information. Cyberattackers, hackers, and scammers have used this opportunity to their advantage. Unfortunately, there were successful data breaches in 2019-2022 resulting in financial and reputational damages for businesses, and those threats continue to impact more businesses and individuals today.
Now, online users are left wondering when the next attack will be and how to protect themselves. We’ve discovered the most common cybersecurity threats in 2022 to keep you informed and prepared. Discover more about the top 10 cybersecurity concerns today, as well as what security measures you and your clients can take.
What are the biggest cybersecurity threats right now?
1. Inadequate Training for Employees
The biggest cybersecurity threat to organizations comes from within them. According to a recent study by Stanford University, employee errors, whether intentional or accidental, are to blame for 88% of data breach occurrences. Data breaches by employee error can be attributed to a lack of security training by organizations. For example, phishing emails have become a common method of cyberattack in 2022 and are the most prevalent cyber security hazard that employees fall for. The reason? Many phishing schemes are sent via email by using malicious attachments or impersonating well-known individuals or companies. Employees that have inadequate training on how to spot or avoid phishing schemes are unlikely to act in a manner that protects themselves. The result is cybersecurity breaches and a lot of damage.
With more sophisticated attacks on the rise, many employees do not have the skills to identify a phishing email. It is important that companies develop cybersecurity risk management plans and have learning sessions to educate employees on the prevalence of cyberattacks, how to spot them, and the best course of action to prevent success. Any cyber security strategy must accommodate human shortcomings and take steps to guarantee that everyone follows correct procedures. Only employee training—in conjunction with a solid framework of controls—can begin to offer adequate security against cyber security threats.
2. The Misuse of the Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term used to describe how millions of devices from all around the world connect to the internet. This provides for a network of connected devices that can store, transmit, and receive data. Many people and organizations are utilizing this developing technology as a result of its convenience. However, what’s convenient for you is also convenient for cyber attackers. The interconnectedness that IoT provides also allows hackers easier access to your information when misused.
Hackers can use the internet’s connectivity as a gateway to access data. With network access through IoT devices, they can extract data from the cloud and use it against users for ransom. Many experts believe IoT will be one of the biggest cybersecurity threats in the future due to the quick adoption of IoT technologies in businesses. So how can you protect yourself?
Any hardware device that is connected to a network will naturally have the potential for vulnerabilities. When managing vulnerabilities, make sure to consistently monitor your devices and undergo security updates whenever possible. Additionally, weak passwords are a contributor to IoT hacks because they are easy for hackers to crack. To protect your IoT device, create strong passwords.
3. Social Engineering
Social engineering attacks utilize social interactions to obtain access to critical information and deception is at the heart of every attack. Cybercriminals use deception and guile to get their targets to divulge personal information, bypass security protections and reveal vital data. Social engineering attacks usually take the form of phishing (i.e. sending emails with malicious links), baiting (i.e. leaving tampered devices in public to lure people into checking them out), and scareware (i.e. scaring users into buying infected software with false alarms).
According to experts, social engineering attacks are classified as one of the biggest cyber security threats of 2022. Unfortunately, even the most sophisticated cyber security systems can’t stop a social engineering assault if the target allows the hacker into the system. Considering that social engineering attacks are on the rise, it is paramount that organizations and individuals be made aware of their relevance and develop strategies to combat their effectiveness.
4. Mishandling Patches
Outdated software is one of the most common sources of attacks. Why? Because outdated software creates a weak link in device systems and leaves data non-secure and susceptible to attackers. As a result, firms and organizations are vulnerable to any number of information security breaches as long as they do not keep their software up-to-date. It is common for attackers to use any discovered vulnerability to launch a cyber assault the moment it is known to them. An example of mishandling patches resulting in a data breach was the WannaCry Ransomware Attack of 2017; Cyberattackers were able to exploit outdated Microsoft Windows software to gain access to users’ data which affected more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries.
Microsoft had patched the Eternal Blue hole two months earlier, however, it was too late for many organizations. Those that did not upgrade their software were left vulnerable. As a result, millions of dollars were lost due to a simple software update mistake.
The lesson to be learned here? Always update your computer software and beware of patches to avoid cyberattacks.
5. Third-Party Vulnerability
Every business uses third-party services, whether it’s payment processing for merchants, financial consultants, or secure file-sharing providers. It’s difficult to run a business smoothly without them. Although third-party services are beneficial to companies, many underestimate the vulnerabilities that come with them and how they can affect their business. It’s not uncommon to hear third-party vendors have fallen victim to cybersecurity breaches. However, is your business absolved of personal liability if a breach occurs with a third-party they use? The answer is no.
Regardless of whether a firm handles clients’ personal information such as social security numbers or credit card digits themselves, third-party vendors that do may put them at risk. In the recent Volkswagen and Audi cyber exposure, negligent data handling put millions of people’s sensitive information in the hands of hackers. In instances where an attack was carried out by a third party, the firm that hired the third-party vendor is still responsible and must notify its customers and regulators if a data breach occurs. Depending on the circumstances, fines and penalties might be severe, ranging from tens of thousands to millions of dollars.
The best strategy to prevent third-party vulnerabilities from affecting your organization is to routinely complete vendor risk assessments.
6. Cloud Vulnerabilities
It’s simple- the more we rely on the cloud for data storage, the greater the chance of a major data breach. The use of cloud storage has skyrocketed over the past few years, and as more confidential information is uploaded to the cloud, the more insistent cyber attackers are on finding a way to exploit it. Cloud services are vulnerable to a variety of cyberattacks, including account takeover and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, which prevent businesses from accessing their data. Many businesses try to protect their data by using cloud security solutions which have become popularized over the past few years due to their promise of security. However, technological protection is only one part of the solution.
Vulnerabilities cannot be entirely eliminated because no technology can guarantee 100% protection. If a company attempts to sell you its product by guaranteeing 100% protection, run! To combat cloud vulnerabilities’ role in cyberattacks, companies must necessitate a comprehensive strategy for effective defense, in addition to using cloud security solutions.
Ransomware is considered to be one of the biggest cyber security threats in 2022 and poses a serious cyber threat to businesses of all sizes. Ransomware attacks work by infecting your network and locking down your data and computer systems until a ransom is paid to the hacker. These cyberattacks not only result in financial losses for businesses but data loss and productivity waste too. Depending on the longevity of the attack, the loss of business opportunities due to inaccessibility to data can be harmful to a company’s bottom line.
Unfortunately, ransomware attacks are not disappearing any time soon. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, ransomware attacks have been increasing across the world. The popularization of these attacks can be attributed to the lack of experience hackers need to execute them. In the past, only experienced hackers were able to successfully carry out ransomware attacks. However, it is becoming more common among less sophisticated hackers now to purchase and use ready-made kits known as “Ransomware-as-a-Service”. These kits were originally developed to target small companies because of their often less advanced cyber security infrastructure and require little-to-know technical hacking expertise.
To prevent ransomware attacks from affecting your business, we recommend highlighting the importance of cybersecurity knowledge and best practices at an organizational level, in addition to developing structured cybersecurity plans to prevent them. Hackers seek quick profits from their hacks, don’t let your organization break the bank.
8. Insufficient Command Over Cyber Risk Management
Businesses frequently neglect to use some of the most effective tools against cyber security threats such as two-factor authentication (2FA), endpoint security, and cloud-based solutions with automatic data encryption. This is a big oversight considering these protections are extremely efficient at lowering the risk for popular cyber attacks like phishing and social engineering.
Not only does insufficient cyber risk management expose businesses to cyber security threats, but it can also harm their ability to obtain comprehensive cyber insurance. With the increasing number of cyberattacks in recent years, obtaining new cyber insurance policies and renewals is more difficult than before. Similar to how insurance companies will not represent people over the age of 65+ and/or have restrictions, cyber insurance companies now require clients to accept additional protections before they will provide coverage.
Fortunately for businesses, insufficient command over cyber risk management is a cyber security risk that can be tackled from within the organization. To protect your business, make sure there are established cyber risk management plans in place that address all imminent and predicted risks.
9. Misinterpreting Compliance for Security
Simply meeting compliance requirements is not the same as maintaining effective security policies and practices year-round. For example, today, the gold standards in compliance for security are ISO 27001 and SOC 2 Type II. However, many companies may have gotten certified for complying with these standards during an audit, but don’t follow the guidelines afterwards.
It’s not enough to be compliant. Become a leader in security within your industry.
10. Out-of-Date Hardware
One of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to hack SMBs and Enterprise businesses is through outdated hardware. Why? Because when the hardware is out-of-date it does not have the newest software with security patches which makes it vulnerable to security holes that hackers love to exploit. Your hardware doesn’t need to be an obsolete legacy system to be out of date; Even hardware that is only 2-3 years old falls behind due to the rapid pace at which software updates are released. This, in turn, exposes companies’ data to risk.
Besides the increased costs to maintain outdated hardware, security vulnerabilities, consistent refreshes and/or crashes resulting in data loss- why would you want to use hardware that doesn’t benefit you? It may be difficult to learn how to use a new system, especially for the non-technical user, however, the investment in new technology with easy user adoption is worth preventing cybersecurity attacks in the long haul.
Pro tip: You should keep your hardware up-to-date in the same manner as your software.
Cyberattacks have increased exponentially since the onset of the pandemic which has resulted in financial and reputational losses for many businesses. These cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and attacks continue to pose a significant risk in 2022. Luckily, with knowledge of their existence and prevalence, coupled with tips to prevent them, your organization is better equipped to prevent the likelihood of a successful breach.
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