11 Cyber Threats To Be Aware of & Defend Against
Cyber or cybersecurity threats are a byproduct of the digital age, with cybercriminals seeking a quick payday through unauthorized access to sensitive information. Luckily, new tools and practices have also been developed to protect us from these cyber threats and safeguard our devices and privacy.
What are cyber threats?
A cyber or cybersecurity threat is a malicious act intending to damage, disrupt, or steal computer data or hardware. Cyber threats can be a danger to businesses and individuals, resulting from hacking attempts, viruses, and many other potential risk factors.
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11 different types of cybersecurity threats
Cybersecurity threats come from internal and external sources. In the workplace, external sources include cybercriminals who are usually unaffiliated with your organization. Internal threats, either intentional or unintentional, arise from inside the organization. These cyber threats can also impact us in our homes, as many common tactics prey on poor password hygiene.
Common internal and external examples of cybersecurity threats include:
Internal cyber threats
- Disgruntled employees: A disgruntled employee, possibly seeking to gain revenge or to exploit their employer, can be a dangerous source of cyber threats. In fact, 75% of insider threats are shown to be the work of a disgruntled employee. With access to company files, apps, and systems, it is easy for an unhappy or unethical employee to destroy business data, deploy malware, or damage hardware.
- BYOD devices: Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies have become more common, and more people than ever are using their phones, tablets, and laptops for both work and personal purposes. This trend also introduces new security considerations since it can become more difficult for employers to monitor what websites, apps, or public WiFi networks employees use, including those that can leave them vulnerable to spyware and other cybersecurity threats.
- Unpatched software: Cybercriminals can exploit out-of-date or unpatched software and operating systems to gain unauthorized entry. Some will even scour the internet, searching for systems that haven’t been updated. Completing system maintenance and applying recommended patches in a timely manner is one of the easiest ways to ward off cybercrimes and strengthen your overall security.
- Ex-employees: An ex-employee can be equally as dangerous as a disgruntled employee, especially if they manage to retain their system access and passwords after leaving the organization. When employees share passwords unsecurely, it can be harder for companies to manage passwords across the business and identify which current and former employees can access various systems.
Current and former employees with bad intentions or poor password habits are another reason onboarding and offboarding policies are essential for workplace security. Learn how RevGenius tightened up their onboarding and offboarding security with Dashlane.
External cyber threats
- Hackers: Hackers are the proponents of many different types of cybercrimes and are often computer experts who use their skills to steal information or hijack computer systems for financial gain. White hat hackers use their knowledge of social engineering and other cybersecurity threats to help people, families, and businesses improve their password hygiene and security posture. We use the term cybercriminal to describe any hacker with malicious intent.
- Hacktivists: A hacktivist is a type of hacker who uses their skills to promote their social or political agenda rather than to steal data or money. WikiLeaks, founded in 2006, is an example of hacktivists using censored or classified information to expose cover-ups and potential crimes. Hacktivists can also become dangerous to businesses or individuals if their sensitive information or intellectual property (IP) is exposed as part of a hacktivist leak.
- Malware: Viruses, worms, and ransomware are among the many annoying forms of malware that can disrupt the function of your computer or device if left unchecked. Even with a trusted antivirus or anti-malware product installed, it’s still possible for malware to slip past your defenses. Malicious forms of malware, such as ransomware, can render your system inoperable, while other cyber threat examples, like spyware and keyloggers, are intended to steal passwords, banking logins, and other personal information. Change your passwords immediately if you experience a malware attack.
- Spyware: As the name implies, spyware is a particularly dangerous form of malware that installs itself onto your device to monitor your online behavior and relay the captured information back to a cybercriminal without your knowledge or consent. Spyware can sometimes be difficult to detect, allowing information to be intercepted for a long period of time.
- Phishing: As a form of social engineering, phishing attacks rely on human nature and misleading calls, texts, or emails to convince the victim to open dangerous links or provide passwords and other personal information. You can lessen the impact of phishing attacks by learning to identify some of their telltale signs, including poor spelling and grammar or URLs that don’t match the company website.
- Distributed denial-of-service attacks: A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a sophisticated form of hacking that uses automation and bots to flood a website with incoming traffic from multiple IP addresses until it becomes disabled. This is similar to a large crowd of people trying to enter a building all at once until the door becomes completely jammed. The purpose of these cybersecurity threats is to shut down a business for a period of time. Major online companies like Netflix and Amazon have been impacted by DDoS attacks over the past decade.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks: A man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack occurs when a cybercriminal taps into an unsecured wireless connection, such as a public WiFi network in an airport or hotel, to intercept conversations or redirect people to fake websites where their information can be stolen. A VPN mitigates the risk of MITM attacks in public settings by encrypting all data going in or out of the device and routing it through a secure portal.
Security concerns for businesses in 2023
The past few years have been challenging for businesses seeking to maintain a strong cybersecurity posture and password health, and 2023 is no exception. Security concerns requiring ongoing attention and vigilance include:
- Rising data breaches. Data breaches continue to increase as hacking tactics become more sophisticated. Many of these methods share a reliance on our poor password hygiene to gain access. With the average person now maintaining over 100 passwords, bad habits like password reuse and unsafe password sharing can leave the door to our logins and financial information dangerously open.
- Work-from-home policies and public WiFi. BYOD and work-from-home policies have made it essential to create ground rules for how, when, and where devices can be used for work or personal use. This should include rules to restrict the use of browser-based password managers and public WiFi networks that don’t provide protection through encryption. In-person cybersecurity training for remote employees helps make the security culture more inclusive.
- Cloud collaboration. Online collaboration platforms have improved our mobility and productivity. Unfortunately, the number of cyberattacks targeting cloud services also continues to rise. Unmanaged devices and unsecured communication platforms like Slack and WhatsApp are among the areas frequently targeted by hackers. Unencrypted messages and passwords shared through platforms like Slack are retained indefinitely and easily exposed during data breaches.
Tips for protecting your organization from cyber threats
The rising tide of cybersecurity threats can be countered by applying a few tools and best practices. To minimize security risks at your business, you should:
- Conduct an assessment. One of the best ways to minimize the impact of cyber threats is to conduct an assessment of your current assets, risk factors, and protections to identify security gaps that need to be filled. This assessment process can be done informally, using internal resources, or with the help of a third-party auditor. Either method will allow you to calculate a risk score and baseline your cybersecurity health status.
- Create a cybersecurity plan. A comprehensive cybersecurity plan transfers the results of a security assessment into a set of actions and policies that optimize protection. Your cybersecurity plan should include access control protocols that define how user identity is verified, training plans, and a description of the cybersecurity tech stack (tools and equipment) needed to implement the security strategy.
- Use encryption. Encryption, or hiding data in an unrecognizable format, is an essential security practice that protects everything from email to financial transactions. Scrambling passwords through encryption makes them unreadable or unusable to hackers, which can lessen the impact of hacking and data breaches. Dashlane Password Manager utilizes AES-256 encryption, widely accepted as the strongest encryption available, to protect users’ passwords and other data.
- Use the right software. Once you have identified cybersecurity risks and formulated a plan, you need to deploy the right cybersecurity tool kit to address current and future threats. VPN and antivirus software provide essential layers of protection. A password manager improves security and efficiency by creating, encrypting, storing, and autofilling complex and unique passwords that make advanced hacking tactics less effective.
How Dashlane protects you from cyber threats
2023 brings many challenges as employers and workers adapt to BYOD policies, limited IT access, and increased reliance on the cloud for communication and collaboration. Dashlane provides intuitive, secure password generation features with encrypted vaults for password storage and sharing that prevent hackers from accessing your logins. Additional features like Password Health scores, 2-factor authentication, a VPN, and Dark Web Monitoring round out the comprehensive cybersecurity solution.
It’s easier to prevent cyber threats when you understand how they work. Learn the anatomy of a cyberattack in The 7 Steps of a Cyberattack—And How to Prevent Them.
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