As technology advances, so do the cyber security threats malicious hackers, malware creators, and other cyber criminals pose. Digital dangers are growing more frequent and severe, and no 21st-century business or organization can afford to ignore them.
ProWriters keeps you informed about today’s biggest cyber security threats so you can help your business clients protect their data and their systems—not to mention their revenue and their reputation—from malicious activity.
Read on for information about current trends and cyber threat examples against which you should warn your clients to be on guard.
What Are the Biggest Cyber Security Threats Today?
Here are the top 10 cyber security threats about which you and your business clients must know:
1. Ransomware and Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)
Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key.
Threat actors continue to find ransomware attacks lucrative. Incidents worldwide saw a record-breaking resurgence in 2023.
The emergence of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) has helped make ransomware one of the most persistent threats. In this model, ransomware operators lease their programs to affiliates who lack time or skill to write and deploy their own malicious code.
2. Spear Phishing
In phishing attacks, cyber criminals manipulate targets into bypassing security measures, disclosing sensitive information, installing malicious software files, or clicking on links to malware.
More than 225 million phishing attacks were reported in 2022, 61% more than the previous year. In 2023, AI tools such as ChatGPT fueled further growth in phishing emails and other messages. They increased an astonishing 1,265%.
Spear phishing remains particularly concerning. While typical phishing emails target any unassuming individual, spear phishing focuses on gaining unauthorized access by targeting specific employees.
Spear phishing attacks are as customized as any corporate advertising effort, if not more so. As a result, they can be even more dangerous than typical phishing attempts.
3. Other Social Engineering Attacks
Phishing emails are only one example of social engineering tactics. Others include fake websites and malicious links. Some audacious cyber criminals have even used AI-enabled “deepfake” impersonation of known and trusted individuals.
All these strategies rely on psychological manipulation to exploit human behavior and trick unsuspecting victims into giving them unauthorized access to computers and systems. As many as 88% to 95% of cyber breaches occur because of human error.
4. Cloud Vulnerabilities
As more organizations shift to cloud delivery models, cloud-related cyber security threats increase. In fact, 27% of organizations reported experiencing a cyber security issue in their public cloud infrastructure.
Account hijacking is one of the most common threats to cloud-based systems. These attacks occur when a cyber criminal gains unauthorized access to a user’s account. The attacker then uses the hijacked account to access other accounts connected to the original user.
Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks are other attacks used against cloud-based systems. In these attacks, threat actors bombard a system with requests or data in order to overwhelm it and make it unusable.
5. Open Ports
In computer networking, ports enable communication between two devices. Services such as web browsers and file transfer services rely on ports to transmit and receive data.
Open ports become liabilities when threat actors exploit them, either by taking advantage of existing vulnerabilities or by introducing malware or other malicious services. A successful port compromise can be an initial attack vector to gain access to sensitive company data.
6. Unprotected Endpoints
Endpoints are critical vulnerabilities for organizations as they present entry points malicious actors can exploit.
Any physical or virtual device connected to the corporate network is an endpoint. They can be end-user devices such as PCs, mobile devices like laptops and tablets, and smartphones and other smart devices; or machines like routers and printers.
When so many businesses pivoted to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, endpoints dramatically multiplied. By mid-2022, the average U.S. organization was managing about 135,000 endpoint devices. Half of those are at risk because they are outdated and unknown to the organization’s IT department.
7. Configuration Mistakes
When software programs haven’t been set up properly, due to lack of knowledge or inadequate training, a variety of potential threats can ensue. For example, if a user hasn’t configured their web browser to block dangerous websites, they are at risk of malware infection.
Misconfigured web tracking tools are another example of mistakes leading to major cyber security trouble. In 2022, for instance, Novant Health notified 1.3 million patients their protected health information (PHI) may have been disclosed due to a misconfigured Meta Pixel on Novant websites.
8. Internet of Things (IoT) Vulnerabilities
The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized how we interact with and manage everyday objects. However, this interconnected ecosystem also brings cyber risks.
Many manufacturers prioritize functionality and cost over robust security. As a result, hackers can easily gain unauthorized access to networks, compromise sensitive information, or take control of connected devices.
9. Not Following Proper Cyber Security Practices
Many organizations still don’t follow best practices for protecting their systems and data from malicious attackers.
For example, 75% of people worldwide still use weak passwords for online accounts. And only 11% of enterprises have adopted Multifactor Authentication (MFA), despite its wide accessibility and low cost.
Adopting best cyber security practices can help businesses not only avoid potential financial losses but also demonstrate their commitment to protecting customer data and maintaining a trustworthy reputation.
10. Lack of Strong Cyber Liability Insurance
Not having strong Cyber Insurance leaves businesses and organizations vulnerable to significant cyber security threats.
Again, the costs associated with managing a cyber incident’s aftermath can be extremely high. Such costs may include:
- Forensic investigations
- Legal fees
- Notification of affected individuals
- Credit monitoring
- Potential fines or penalties
Beyond mitigating financial loss, Cyber Insurance can help organizations recover from an incident quickly by providing access to incident response services and expert advice. It can also demonstrate a commitment to cyber security, enhancing the insured’s reputation.
For more information about all Cyber Liability Insurance can do for your business clients, as well as strategies on how best to sell it, download our free eBook, How to Sell Cyber: Big Claims in Ransomware & Social Engineering.