Although the accelerated adoption of new and innovative technologies is increasing efficiencies, it is adding a slew of dynamic cybersecurity challenges for businesses in every industry. Today’s attacks have evolved beyond simple malware, viruses, and identity theft, to advanced threats that have the ability to seriously threaten our online and physical worlds.
A wide range of digital technologies, including AI, intelligent automation botnets, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, and the edge, are all double-edged swords, helping defenders protect organisations from cyberthreats, but also facilitating more sophisticated attacks that are hard to defend against. One thing is clear, and that is that entities in every sector need to continuously revisit their cybersecurity measures to defend against the onslaught of new attacks and trends.
Take for example, the COVID-19 pandemic which forced the majority of businesses to send their staff home to work in an almost overnight mass exodus - a trend that, even in the aftermath, is here to stay to some extent. However, working remotely brought with it a broad range of new threats as the attack surface widened and traditional perimeters became a thing of the past. This has driven an urgent need for organisations to focus on the security challenges that distributed workforces bring, including pinpointing and mitigating emerging security threats, hardening systems, implementing new security controls and procedures, and putting appropriate monitoring solutions in place.
Another trend, the IoT, has also come hand in hand with a wide variety of threats. In a world of billions of connected devices and sensors, all talking to each other and to us across the Web, the dynamics have fundamentally changed. From smart security systems and fridges, to watches and medical devices, there are already tens of millions of connected devices, and the number is continuing to soar. This too has affected the attack surface, by adding a vast number of potential entry points for bad actors, and as most IoT devices were not built with security in mind, they tend to be more vulnerable than our laptops and smartphones, compounding the problem. This is another area that companies need to focus security efforts on.
And of course, no talk about cyberattack trends can happen without mentioning ransomware. This threat isn’t new, but it is evolving rapidly and dangerously. According to Statista, there are now several hundred separate families of this scourge, and attackers are honing their tools to deliver this malware in a wide range of ways. Even more dangerously, gone are the days when bad actors locked up a company’s systems and demanded a ransom in Bitcoin to release the decryption key, today, it’s all about “double extortion” where ransomware gangs threaten to release the company’s data to bad actors or the public to get their victims to cough up.
Having a good backup is no longer an effective remedy. Today, we are even seeing quintuple extortion, where ransomware authors started stealing IP and other confidential information, threatening the company’s staff and customers, and even publicly shaming their targets. Moreover, ransomware authors are becoming more sophisticated, are using machine learning in their phishing attempts, and are sharing with each other on the dark Web. Unfortunately, ransomware isn’t going anywhere, and as it continues to evolve, so must an organisation’s defence tactics.
Cloud is another area that is always a major focus for the security industry. The previously discussed rapid move to working from home, saw companies accelerate their cloud journeys on an unprecedented level. Having cloud-based services and infrastructure meant the difference between staying open and productive or closing the doors forever. However, as with any implementation done in a major hurry, security took a back seat and put many organisations at risk. The benefits of cloud technologies are many, and well documented, including scalability, ease of use, cost savings, efficiencies - but they are also a compelling target for malefactors. In fact, misconfigured cloud settings are more often than not the culprit when it comes to unauthorised access and data breaches. Simply put, companies must find ways to minimise cloud threats, and this includes ensuring compliance and data residency obligations are met.
Social engineering and phishing are two more major dangers, and ones that are evolving too, and becoming more widespread. Again, due to distributed workforces, it’s easy for threat actors to target an employee as a means of gaining a foothold on the corporate network, as they are far softer targets. SMS phishing or smishing is also becoming increasingly popular thanks to a plethora of messaging apps that are used by almost everyone. The scourge of shallowfakes and deepfakes is adding to the problem, as they make social engineering infinitely easier. Both of these are excellent tools in the cyber crook’s arsenal, as they help him or her to misrepresent the truth.
Similarly, ‘vishing’, or voice phishing is becoming more widespread, as hackers pretending to be IT staff call customer service representatives and fool them into providing access to a critical access tool. Businesses are always on the lookout for new ways to up their protection against phishing, but bad actors are always one step ahead, so here, ongoing employee awareness can prove successful.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Through Tarsus Distribution, security giant Check Point offers a range of tools and solutions that provide end-to-end security from the enterprise to the cloud, to mobile devices, IoT devices, and more.
Contact us today to make sure that your business’s cybersecurity is engineered to stay ahead of any new trend or attack.