Cyber attacks are becoming more commonplace. But do you know what they are and how they differ from one another? We have laid out the top security threats in 2021. While the name of a specific attack may vary, there are generic groups that most can fall in, making them easier to identify and stop.
While ransomware has been around for a long time, there has been an extreme uptick particularly with the use of bitcoin, which can shield hackers from being caught. In a ransomware attack, hackers gain entrance into a company’s environment, using many of the tactics listed below. After that, malware is installed that can either encrypt, lock, scramble, or steal an organization’s documents and files. The hacker will either use those files as blackmail against the company until a ransom is paid, or demand a ransom for an encryption key to gain back access to their data. The US Government urges companies not to comply or pay ransoms as this can encourage further attacks. Yet, about two-thirds of all ransomware attacks are partially or fully paid.
Social Engineering Attacks
These attacks target the human aspect of a business, typically asking for sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and the like. You may have seen some of these attacks in your email, claiming you’ve won a contest you didn’t enter or pretending to be your IT department asking for information that will allow them on your network. Hackers can even call and pretend to be someone you may know. Social engineering attacks can be avoided by practicing safe cyber security habits learned through training your employees correctly.
Zero Day Attacks
What can happen if a hacker finds a vulnerability in your system that the developer doesn’t even know about? Zero day attacks are the result of just that. A developer has had “zero days” to respond to a breach in their software and must respond as quickly as possible to prevent future attacks. A hacker will often send an unsuspecting victim a malicious email or link containing a line of code that is sent out to find these vulnerabilities. Once the vulnerability is found, it’s up to the hacker on how to exploit it and what they would like to do with your information and data. When a developer is aware of the problem in their software, these vulnerabilities are patched rather quickly, however, if the vulnerability is not known, hackers could be exploiting the fault for days, weeks, or even months along with possible lasting effects.
Phishing attacks trick people into clicking on malicious links with the intention of infecting the machine and stealing information. The emails are crafted to appear legitimate, leading the reader to believe they are safe. There are signs you can watch for to determine whether or not the email is legitimate or not. Are there a number of grammatical errors? Does the email appear visually askew? Do you recognize the sender and were you expecting the link? These are all red flags when looking at a possible phishing attack.
These attacks start in one place and end in another. Since so many things are connected through the internet, this is where a hacker can start in a place that they are easily able to get into in order to get to their ultimate goal. We have so many environments that are connected that even though they make our lives easier, they make a cyber criminal’s life easier as well. For example, if your social media account is hacked and you use the same username or password for your bank account, a hacker could use your social media information to access your bank account. Common tactics to defer IoT attacks start by having different passwords for different accounts and using multi-factor identification.
Also known as malicious advertising, these are ads that look legitimate but are actually used to spread malware when someone clicks on them. Sometimes the malware can be packaged with legitimate software and media in order to look innocent enough. Malware can be injected in many different types of media including video, social media, and web page advertisements. In an era where these forms of media are clicked on more than ever without a second thought, malvertising has found some success if it is able to get past certain barriers. You may be taken to the actual website that was shown to you but on the way there, you were redirected to a malicious site that installed malware on your computer in just a few seconds. If you do land on a malicious landing page, that malware is only active while you are on that page. So if you notice anything odd, exit out of that page immediately.
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