Top 6 Cybersecurity Threats to Watch Out for in 2024
Does it feel like cyber threats are popping up faster than you can keep track? You're not alone. With new threats surfacing daily, it's a constant game of cat and mouse as cyber criminals devise innovative ways to infiltrate systems and snatch valuable data. Cybersecurity isn't just a buzzword but a crucial shield for businesses. Let's unravel the top 6 cyber threats you should brace for in 2024.
Phishing and Smishing
By this point, I think we've all seen the AusPost scam texts or emails from your "CEO" asking you to do something urgent for them. Phishing and its trouble-making cousin, Smishing, continue to be a major cause of cyber breaches each year.
The aim of phishing is simple: trick you into parting with your sensitive data or allowing malware installation through a range of email strategies. In the case of smishing, the attacker masquerades as a trustworthy entity, sending bait messages via SMS rather than email. So, what can you do?
Phishing and Smishing Defense Strategies:
- Educate your team: Teach them to identify common types of phishing attempts and never respond to suspicious requests. Encourage reporting of any doubtful activity for prompt security action.
- Use intrusion detection systems and spam filters: These tools can help block unsolicited emails, thwarting potential attacks.
- Adopt robust authentication tools: Multi-factor authentication and strong, regularly updated passwords can deter attackers.
Malware, short for malicious software, is like the Swiss Army knife of cyber threats - versatile and dangerous. Attackers use it to gain stealthy, constant access to a business's devices, which they can then control remotely to steal data, snoop around your network, or send spam.
Did you know that a whopping 91% of cyberattacks start with a phishing email? That's right, phishing and malware often work together to wreak havoc.
How can we fight back against Malware?
- Security software: Up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software is a must-have for all devices.
- System updates: With malware attacks evolving daily, keeping your system up-to-date is crucial to fend off new threats.
- Network security: Regular network assessments can help you identify weak points and scan for malware. Remember to upgrade your security measures periodically for maximum protection.
- Employee security training: Many data breaches happen because of human error. Training your team on how to spot malware attempts can go a long way towards bolstering your defences.
As of 2023, over 72% of businesses worldwide were affected by ransomware attacks. When ransomware sneaks into your system, it hijacks your data and holds it hostage until a ransom is paid. This leaves businesses with a tough choice - shell out the money or risk losing critical data. However, paying doesn't guarantee a safe return of your data.
Ransomware has evolved over time, with hackers targeting larger operations in increasingly sophisticated ways. But don't be fooled - small businesses are just as tempting for these cybercriminals. They know that smaller enterprises often lack the resources to back up their data effectively, making them more likely to pay the ransom.
Safeguarding Against Ransomware
Preventing ransomware requires implementing strategies similar to combating other malware. Here are some effective measures:
- Keep your systems updated: Cybersecurity enhancements are released frequently, helping you stay ahead of hackers.
- Backup your data: Regularly backup your data and store it separately from your network to prevent easy access by attackers.
- Maintain good cyber hygiene: Keep an inventory of all devices connected to your network to detect potential malware threats.
- Use VPN services: VPNs provide an extra layer of security when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
- Create incident response plans: Prepare for potential attacks by regularly testing your incident response plans and identifying weak points.
- Focus on training: Ransomware, as with any of these other threats, can enter most easily when human error is involved. Whether it is from precarious browsing habits or falling for a phishing scam, your people need to be trained on cybersecurity awareness so that they don't unintentionally let ransomware in.
Business Email Compromise (BEC)
BEC involves attackers compromising business emails to defraud the company. Criminals hack into business systems, gain access to payment information, and trick employees into transferring funds into their accounts. These fraudulent requests can be incredibly deceiving, mirroring genuine requests. The financial damages from BEC can be substantial and recovering the lost funds can take months, if possible at all.
Countering Business Email Compromise
Preventing BEC requires vigilance and adherence to cybersecurity best practices. Here are some strategies:
- Use strong passwords: Regularly update passwords and avoid sharing personal information on social media that could be used to guess your password.
- Implement robust software: Utilize firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-malware software to make it harder for cybercriminals to target your business.
- Establish verification processes: Verify payment requests telephonically or in person and directly address any changes to account details or payment processes with the recipient.
- Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA): This adds an extra layer of security, preventing hackers from accessing your accounts without additional verification.
If a cybercriminal manages to exploit the vulnerability before our diligent developers can cook up a fix, we're dealing with a zero-day attack.
Zero-day vulnerabilities can take almost any form because they're just broader software vulnerabilities in disguise. They could pop up as missing data encryption, SQL injection, buffer overflows, missing authorizations, broken algorithms, URL redirects, bugs, or even issues with password security.
This chameleon-like nature makes zero-day vulnerabilities tough to find. In a way, it's good news because it also means hackers will have a hard time spotting them. But it does make it challenging to effectively guard against these vulnerabilities.
Here's how you can armour up and protect your data
- Stay Updated: Keep all your software and operating systems on their toes, always updated. Why? Because every new update comes with security patches that cover any newly discovered vulnerabilities. It's like getting the latest antivirus shot - it just keeps you safer.
- Less is More: The fewer applications you use, the fewer potential trap doors for hackers to exploit. So try to stick to only the essential apps. It's like minimizing the number of doors into your house - less chance for unwanted guests.
- Firewall Finesse: Firewalls are like the bouncers of your system, keeping out zero-day threats. Make sure yours is configured to allow only the necessary transactions. It's like having a strict guest list at a party - if they're not on the list, they're not getting in.
- Knowledge is Power: Within organizations, it's crucial to educate users. Many zero-day attacks are like con artists, capitalizing on human error. By teaching good safety and security habits, we can help keep everyone safe online and shield our organizations from zero-day exploits and other digital dangers.
Statistics show that human error is one of the leading causes of cyber breaches. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, 95% of cybersecurity issues are due to human error.
Why is this so? Well, humans are fallible—we make mistakes. We can be tricked, manipulated, and even coerced into acting against our best interests or those of our organizations. This susceptibility makes us prime targets for cybercriminals who exploit human weaknesses to gain access to systems and data.
How to keep your business safe
Approaching the human element involves three components:
- Regular training - individuals must be trained regularly to ensure they have a high cyber awareness and know about phishing risks and how to identify dubious emails.
- Assessment - practical testing is crucial – it not only measures the effectiveness of their learning but also enhances retention as experiential learning is often the most impactful.
- Security-first environment - it's vital to cultivate a corporate culture that prioritizes security and encourages employees to take initiative and seek clarification whenever in doubt.
Get your FREE guide to reducing human cyber risk
As we move into 2024, staying aware of these threats and implementing proactive security measures can help safeguard your business. Remember, in cybersecurity, knowledge is power. The more you know about the potential threats, the better equipped you'll be to protect your organization.
Ready to delve deeper into managing human risk in cybersecurity? Our eBook, "The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Human Cyber Risk", provides comprehensive insights into how organizations can effectively manage human risk.
Fill in the form below to get your free copy sent directly to your inbox.