7 Types of Cyber Security Threats
Cybersecurity professionals continually defend computer systems against various types of cyber threats. Cyberattacks affect businesses and private systems daily, and the variety of attacks has grown rapidly. According to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that do not yet know they have been hacked.”
The motives for cyberattacks are varied. One is money. Cyber attackers can take a system offline and request a payment to restore its functionality. Ransomware, an attack that requires payment to restore services, is more sophisticated today than ever. Businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks but people are also targeted, often because they store personal information on their mobile phones and use unsecured public networks. Monitoring the evolution and increase of cyberattacks is key to improving cybersecurity.
What Is a Cybersecurity Threat?
From infrastructure infiltration and data breaches to spear phishing and brute force. Online threats are diverse and do not distinguish organizations from individuals when seeking a target. You have probably heard the term “cyber threat” in the media. But what exactly are these cyber threats?
Cybersecurity or cyber threat is a malicious act that aims to corrupt data, steal data, or disrupt digital life in general. Cyberattacks include threats such as computer viruses, data breaches, and denial of service (DoS) attacks. However, to really understand this concept, let’s take a closer look at cybersecurity.
As mentioned, a cybersecurity threat refers to any malicious attack that aims to illegally access data, disrupt digital operations, or damage information. Cyber threats can emanate from a variety of actors, including corporate spies, hacktivists, terrorist groups, hostile nation-states, criminal organizations, individual hackers, and disgruntled employees.
In recent years, numerous high-profile cyberattacks have resulted in the disclosure of sensitive data. For example, the 2017 Equifax breach compromised the personal information of around 143 million consumers, including dates of birth, addresses, and social security numbers. In 2018, Marriott International announced that hackers had accessed its servers and stolen the data of around 500 million customers. In both cases, the cybersecurity threat was possible because the organization failed to implement, test, and retest technical safeguards such as encryption, authentication, and firewalls.
Cyber attackers can use the confidential information of a person or company to steal information or gain access to their financial accounts, among other potentially harmful actions, making cybersecurity professionals essential to protect private information. Today, the term is used almost exclusively to describe information security problems. Since it is difficult to imagine how digital signals transmitted over a cable could represent an attack, we decided to visualize the digital phenomenon as a physical phenomenon.
A cyberattack is one carried out against us (that is, our digital devices) through cyberspace. Cyberspace, a virtual space that does not exist, has become a metaphor that helps us understand digital weapons that want to harm us. The attacker’s intent and potential impact are to be monitored. While many cyberattacks are simply annoying, some are very serious and even threaten human lives.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats
In today’s fast-paced application economy, the pressure to go to market with functionality first is outweighing robust and secure design. This creates the inevitable cybersecurity risk for businesses of all sizes. Protecting your business data against cyber threats begins with a holistic understanding of potential threats and then identifying countermeasures against such outbreaks. There are different types of attacks:
Phishing attacks. Accidentally clicking on malicious emails with embedded links or attachments often exposes organizations to phishing attacks. Avoid this vulnerability by training your employees to be on the lookout for suspicious email addresses, subjects, and content. Other tell-tale signs of phishing emails include excessive grammar and spelling errors, unknown email addresses or domain names, and emails that contain information that your business would not normally request.
Network Probes. When trying to access a business computer and its files, a probe looks for a vulnerability in the system. This type of threat is not immediate, as you will need to search your system for possible entry points. Network monitoring is the best way to combat this attack because it can log events and report the probe before it can cause further damage.
Brute Force Cracking. This type of threat refers to the trial-and-error method of decoding encrypted data such as Data Encryption Standard (DES) keys or passwords using application programs. A simple and efficient way to prevent this type of cracking is to implement authentication modes and lock privacy settings.
Drive-by Download. This threat is a program that will instantly download information from your device without your knowledge or consent. By simply clicking a link, your system initiates a drive-by download; they are often called Trojans. Keeping your software up to date can help prevent these types of attacks, as these links are often found in outdated browsers and plug-ins.
Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS). DDoS is one of the most common attacks and is used to compromise a company’s system by overloading it with traffic from various sources. Properly configured server applications, in combination with the use of routers and firewalls, can help minimize the attack.
Advanced Persistent Threat Attack (APT). In this type of attack, an unauthorized user has permanent access to a network and remains there for an extended period. The goal of an APT is to gather information through code rewriting and advanced tricks instead of blocking a network system. 24/7 monitoring, event reporting, and intrusion detection are required to prevent this threat and must be complemented by data encryption and network isolation.
Ransomware. This type of threat has been in the news lately as it infiltrated several high-profile companies. Malicious software causes systems to shut down and attackers retain data until a ransom is paid. There were so many cases of ransomware in 2016 that NBC News called it a “billion dollar a year crime.”
Cybersecurity practices evolve as the Internet and digitally dependent operations evolve and change. According to SecureWorks, people studying cybersecurity will pay more attention to these two areas in the following sections.
Internet of Things. Individual devices that connect to the Internet or other networks provide hackers with an access point. Cytelligence reports that in 2019, hackers increasingly targeted smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as smart TVs, voice assistants, connected baby monitors, and cell phones. Hackers who successfully compromise a connected home not only gain access to users’ wi-fi credentials, but can also access their data, such as medical records, bank statements, and website credentials.
The Data Explosion. Storing data on devices such as laptops and cell phones makes it easy for cyber attackers to find a point of access to a network using a personal device. For example, in the May 2019 book Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age, former US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff warns of the ubiquitous disclosure of personal information about people who are increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. As a result, businesses and government agencies need the highest cyber security to protect their data and operations. Understanding how to address the latest evolving cyber threats is critical for cybersecurity professionals.
Now that you’ve reviewed the different types of attacks and risks, you can arm yourself against cybersecurity threats by creating a privacy plan. This plan should protect your business by removing administrative privileges for those who don’t need them, making sure your operating system and applications are up to date and investing in a service that provides you with the proper firewalls. With RCN Internet Security, you protect your business data at the network level through cloud-based network security and allow your IT resources to focus more on business-critical projects.