With the advent of technology, not just has organizational functioning changed but the level, magnitude and nature of cybersecurity threats have also changed drastically. Till a few years ago, a cyber-attack could be characterized as an isolated incident of a single hacker or a group of hackers engaging in a spur-of-the-moment or opportunistic crime using public-facing IP addresses and breaching into vulnerable layers of a company’s networks and exploring it. Today, however, cyber-attacks are organized crimes with malicious motives. Cyber Security certifications are a good way for IT professionals and cybersecurity personnel to keep themselves abreast of current trends, tools and laws in the cybersecurity domain and to prepare a sound cybersecurity strategy.
Below are the 9 biggest IT security threats of today.
Cyber crime syndicates: Although individual cyber-criminals do still exist, today there are organized cyber crime syndicates that engage in hacking, breaches and cyber-attacks. Groups that used to engage in organized crime like gambling, drugs, extortion, etc. are now putting their money in cybercrime as well. There are fully functional, multi-level, service-oriented organizations that engage in creating malware and botnets, selling or renting these, extorting companies using data breaches and so on.
Crime-as-a-service: There are small-time cons and money launderers who run smaller, more entrepreneurial cybercrime enterprises. They may be malware mercenaries, botnet service-providers, hackers, etc. They mostly engage in one or more of activities like identity theft, break into passwords, extrude credit card and financial details, malware development, create and rent botnets, provide ‘no questions asked’ hosting in countries that are out of legal reach, help others in engaging in criminal activities and so on in return for good cash.
To add to this, many organizations have enthusiastically embraced the internet of things (IoT) which has added un-managed risks to their kitty. Not all the devices connected to the network are secure and there is a lack of transparency in the IoT ecosystem. Also, the terms and conditions are vague and customer data continues to be used in ways they would not approve of in the IoT ecosystem and the organization also does not fully know what kind of data smartphones and mobile devices are taken away from the network. These lead to risks that are not known. Without adequate knowledge of risks, adequate security measures cannot be put in place and without adequate measures, networks can be breached, and customer information compromised.
Supply chains and risks: Supply chains have come to play an invaluable role in an organization’s business operations. However, this brings plenty of risks and threats to the organization, considering sensitive and valuable data is shared with suppliers and this leads to loss of direct control over this data. Organizations cannot be 100% sure of how their suppliers are using the data or how well-protected are their networks. Organizations need to identify weak links in the supply chain and put in place effective supply chain risk management systems.
Corporate espionage and intellectual property theft: Malicious hackers and cybercrime syndicates often breach into organization’s IT assets, steal confidential information about patents, new products, military secrets, financial information, business plans, emails, etc. and commit corporate espionage.
Strong and malicious malware and ransomware are being developed using sophisticated technologies. The rise of cryptocurrency has provided anonymity for attackers to extort money/ ransom in the hood of anonymity and without leaving any digital trace. When attacks are stopped by robust cybersecurity measures, the attackers work harder and come back with a more skilful and malicious attack. Sometimes all-in-one malware disguised as anti-viruses is used for cybersecurity breaches. Malware and ransomware cost the organization money and reputation, and it becomes difficult to get back consumer trust.
Rise of AI: While businesses are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to protect themselves from cyber-attacks, attackers are using these AI to extract information about and exploit network/ system vulnerabilities. An example of this has been spear phishing used by attackers to get their malware installed or get people to share sensitive information.
Through cyber-warfare programs, huge data breaches are being orchestrated by competing firms, governments on other governments, governments on firms, crime syndicates on firms and governments and so on. These covert operations using sophisticated and complex programs are stealing vast amounts of computing capacity to orchestrate hacks and intrusions. Political hacktivism is being used to propagate ideologies and even meddle with elections!
Cyber-physical attacks: Cyber-attacks have now developed the capability to attack critical physical infrastructure like electrical grids, hospitals, transport systems, etc. They cause immediate disruption or destruction through ransomware and malware that can hijack vital systems, breach into critical networks and wreak havoc.