Not everyone needs to be a cybersecurity expert. Indeed, it takes a lot of studying to become proficient in that field. However, in an age where the internet is used for pretty much everything, everyone needs to understand the basic concepts. If you want to keep yourself and your organization safe from attack, you should make sure that you understand these ten major cybersecurity threats.
1. Social Engineering Threats
Get ready for an infuriating fact. Remember all those security services for which you pay? You know, things like encryption software, VPN services, extra hardware, etc.? There is a certain type of hacker that can circumvent all of these measures. Instead of attacking the technology, they attack the most vulnerable user that they can find.
Email phishing is the most common trick, but text messages can be used in similar ways. They just trick the person into clicking a link, which then directs them to a false page. When their information is entered on that fake page, the attacker captures it via a keystroke logger. All they have to do is create a fake page that resembles something legitimate. From there, a single script is enough to compromise everything else. The only way to combat this threat is through education and wariness.
Even government servers have sometimes fallen victim to ransomware attacks, which are very hard to counter. Under most circumstances, encryption is a tool that people use to guard their data from theft or snooping. However, hackers have figured out how to weaponize this tool and use it against their victims.
The basic concept is simple: They take control of your system/network and install a specialized sort of malware. This malware encrypts the entire drive in such a way that it cannot realistically be unlocked. In return for the de-encryption password, the hackers will demand money or other compensation. There are programs that can (potentially) crack strong encryption, but it might literally take years or even decades.
Thankfully, a well-maintained data backup regimen can defeat these attacks, or at least minimize their damage. However, you need to be aware that those backups could also be targeted. A smart hacker would certainly make the attempt, knowing that those backups could ruin their entire plan. As such, backups should be stored on an offline device.
3. ISP Hacking
Thankfully, more and more people are becoming aware of the need for online security. This leads many of them to diligently secure their home devices and network. However, there is one big problem: You can only control a certain part of the network. They might not be able to invade the network from an endpoint (like a PC or mobile device), but too many people neglect the network side.
If someone manages to hack your internet service provider (even in a limited way), they can potentially intercept all of your data. Who knows what they might learn from that? Sensitive passwords, confidential personal data, and all kinds of other things that a hacker might find valuable. The best way to counter this is through a mixture of router-level encryption and DNS request encryption (look up DD-WRT and OpenWRT for more info). These will allow you to harden both ends of your system, thus greatly reducing your attack surface.
4. Crypto-mining Botnets
Crypto-mining is the latest craze among those who love technology. Unfortunately, this sometimes includes hackers and other criminals. However, they have one problem: It takes a lot of computing power to run a profitable crypto-mining operation. Rather than invest a bunch of money in a high-end desktop, many of these people will just hijack your resources and add them to a pool. This pool of hijacked computing resources is usually called a “botnet.”
This one doesn’t have an easy solution, but there are several things that you can do. The best step is to implement a network monitoring system. A botnet requires a certain amount of communication between your system and theirs. A trained individual can probably identify a botnet through suspicious traffic and misallocated memory. Once it’s identified, you just have to delete the malware. Of course, these kinds of things can sometimes be self-replicating, so they will need to make sure it’s actually gone.
5. “Current Events” Hacking
Criminals will often tailor their scams to coincide with current events. For instance, a lot of phishing scams have recently made use of the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to grab attention. The more attention they get, the more victims they will attract. This really isn’t anything new, even if the Corona problem is relatively new. Just make sure that you and your employees are aware of this fact.
6. IoT Hacking
So-called “smart devices” are not really a smart idea at present. These devices are proliferating rapidly, but security solutions for them have not been so prolific. In fact, most of them have little to no security. We have seen many of them that didn’t even have a firewall. Until this situation changes, the smart bet is to avoid these glaring security holes.
7. Cloud-Based Threats
Your company probably uses the cloud to some extent, and it can also be a path of attack. Every cloud company will tell you that their network is completely secure and will never be hacked, but you can’t necessarily trust those assurances. Here are some of the more common cloud-based threats:
- Lost or Stolen Devices
- Compliance Issues
- Loss of Intellectual Property
8. Insider Threats
There are many ways to control network access, from VPN servers to MAC access control on your routers. However, all of those controls can be circumvented with a tried-and-true intelligence tactic: Infiltration. Criminals don’t actually need to hack you through the network or through a device. If they are really smart, they might just trick you into giving them login credentials. This is defeated through the proper compartmentalization of information.
9. Browser-Level Threats
10. Reverse Psychology Scams
One of the most insidious ways to install malware is this: Disguise it as security software and offer it for free! You’d be surprised at how often this actually happens. Thankfully, this is a simple problem with a simple solution: Always make sure that any software you download is coming from the official website of its parent company. Also, make use of software signatures and hashes to verify the integrity of your download files…before you install them!
These aren’t the only threats on the horizon…not by a long shot! Unfortunately, people have found many ways to exploit weaknesses in technology. Fortunately, however, other people have found ways to counter those exploits. While it isn’t possible to have an “unhackable” system, you can certainly make one that is formidable enough to block the vast majority of threats. As Sun Tzu said, you must know your enemy in order to be victorious. For additional information, you can call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.