The number and types of cyberattacks are skyrocketing (see Figure 1), posing a risk to business operations. According to KPMG, the average cost of a data breach is nearly $300,000, while the average firm only invests around $500 annually to improve its cybersecurity posture.
In this article, we will go over 3 trending cyber threats that businesses should be aware of, as well as strategies mitigating their destructive effects to help executives.
Figure 1: Number of malware attacks in millions
1. Ransomware attacks
According to Accenture, ransomware attacks more than doubled in 2021 compared to 2020. The United States was the region most targeted by ransomware attacks, accounting for 45% of all ransomware attacks. The US is followed by Italy (10%) and Australia (8%). Ransomware attacks impacted the manufacturing sector the most (19%), followed by finance (9%) and healthcare (7%) (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Distribution of ransomware attacks subject to countries and industries
Ransomware locks data and keeps it in captivity. Therefore, anytime an organization tries to access a ransomware-infected file, their request is refused. To release data, cybercriminals often demand a monetary payment (ransom). However, paying the ransom may not ensure an organization’s data security because thieves are aware of the organization’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
AIMultiple expects that, ransomware attacks to remain a serious cyber threat through 2022 and beyond since:
- Hybrid/remote working becomes a new normal after the pandemic which creates cybersecurity weaknesses due to:
- Unsecured gadget usage (personal laptops or pads)
- Unsecured Wi-Fi usage (employees work via using public Wi-Fi)
- Traditionally corporations have legacy cybersecurity systems which are designed to protect corporate data in an office environment.
- Companies are migrating to public cloud tools because they make it easier to deploy and use digital solutions. Cloud environments are more attractive income sources for cybercriminals since successful breaches might imply access to many corporations’ data.
How to minimize ransomware risk?
Implementing a zero trust cybersecurity paradigm, in which individuals, networks, and devices are always inspected and validated before accessing a document, is the main strategy to reduce ransomware risk:
- Constant verification, which is usually aided by multi factor identification, lowers the risk of malware infiltration.
- Constant verification allows constant monitoring of networks and users thus, after infection it becomes easy to find patient zero and make the network refunctional.
- The zero-trust design enables micro segmentation and least access capabilities, reducing the attack surface. Limited access to company resources, implies, in the event of a successful breach organizations can protect a significant proportion of data.
- Micro segmentation capabilities prohibit lateral movement of criminals and prohibit infection of malware from patient zero.
Following tools enable firms to implement a zero trust cybersecurity paradigm:
- Zero trust network access (ZTNA): Provides application level access to users. Before granting the access it verifies user, gadget and network security with multi factor authentication.
- Secure web gateway (SWG): Provides web security to businesses. The URL filtering features of SWG support the least access principle and a zero-trust mindset.
- Secure access service edge (SASE): Is a platform that provides enterprises with both security and network capabilities. SASE tools provide security solutions such as firewall as a service (FWaaS), SWG, and ZTNA.
- Software defined perimeter (SDP): Is a cutting-edge network cloaking tool that will eventually replace traditional VPNs. Unlike VPN, SDP provides for micro segmentation and least access privilege, rather than granting access to all business data to all employees.
2. Phishing attacks
Since our activities have shifted to digital platforms, selling individual login data has become more appealing. Phishing is one of the methods fraudsters use to gain access to a user’s login information. Fraudsters attempt to deceive people by posing as official entities, attacking with real-like websites or emails, in order to gain access to user login information.
Deloitte, argues that phishing attacks is one of the cyber threats that affect corporations the most with ransomware attacks.
How to minimize phishing risk?
Phishing attacks use both technological and social security methods. To deal with phishing attempts, businesses should upgrade their cybersecurity architecture and their employees’ cybersecurity awareness.
- Due to ongoing monitoring, verification, and limited attack service, the zero trust method performs well for phishing defense as ransomware defense.
- Web filtering (both DNS and URL filtering) protect firms against phishing attacks because firms can filter web content that spreads phishing attacks.
- Providing cybersecurity awareness training platforms lets employees differentiate a fake website/email from an official one.
3. Brute-force attacks
According to the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) brute-force attacks on remote desktop services is one of the most common attack techniques with phishing attacks.
A brute-force attacker, who threatens web security, tries to correctly guess user login information mostly by using some algorithms.
How to minimize brute-force attacks risk?
- Cybersecurity tools that implement a zero-trust approach protects organizations against the cost of brute force attacks since they reduce attack service, minimize lateral movement and verifies users with multi-factor authentication.
- Users may assist brute-force attackers by using simple/easy-to-guess passwords. Companies should provide training for employees to learn about the necessity of complicated password creation. Additionally, corporate IT systems should require users to create passwords that include:
- Using both upper and lower case letters
- Using at least one number
- Using at least one special character
- A minimum amount of characters that must be included in a password.
For more information about web security you can read our Top 4 Secure Web Login Best Practices for Corporations article
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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