Common Cyberattacks Every Company Needs to Know About
This year will go down as one that most people will never forget and sadly it hasn’t reached its end. Not only has it been a year wrought with social, political, and economic chaos as the entire world struggles to find its footing during a global pandemic, but it has also been a year plagued by significant increases in all forms of cyberattacks that have forced businesses to rethink their cybersecurity standards and practices in order to combat the alarming number of growing threats.
Businesses within every industry have had to uncomfortably accept the “adapt or die” mentality regarding their cybersecurity protocols to keep up with the ongoing changes in company work environments. Specifically, many companies feel more vulnerable to cyberattacks due to the increase in remote employee hires while also managing the massive transition of daily office employees to a work-from-home workforce. While employees have had an easier time adjusting, businesses have had to quickly figure out how to confidently secure their remote workforce from the increase in cyberattacks aimed at exploiting this change in the working environment.
In order to combat cyberattacks, the first step is to ensure you’re familiar with the different types of attacks your business is likely to face.
What Is a Cyberattack?
A cyberattack is any type of unwanted offensive maneuver that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, or personal computer devices in an attempt to access data, functions or other restricted areas of the system without authorization and with malicious intent. A cyberattack can steal, alter, or destroy a specified target by hacking into a susceptible system and causing damages that lead to significant financial losses, harmful legal ramifications, and a damaged reputation with both customers and consumers.
4 Common Cyberattacks You Should Be Familiar With
- Phishing Attacks
Phishing and closely related business email compromise (BEC) attacks are popular among cybercriminals, primarily because of how simple yet successful they can be. Phishing emails convincingly impersonate other people both inside and outside your company and can trick unsuspecting employees into revealing account credentials, financial information, and other sensitive company data. According to Avanan’s phishing statistics, 1 in every 99 emails received by a business email is a phishing attack. This equates to roughly 4.8 emails per employee in a five-day work week. What’s more, close to 30% of phishing emails make it past default security defenses and it only takes one mistake to compromise your company’s security. Spear phishing messages are especially crafty, as they target executives, IT staff, and other individuals who typically have administrative or high-end privileges.
Ransomware is an extremely disruptive type of malware that prevents an employee from accessing a system or data on their device. The most common form is crypto ransomware, which makes data or files unreadable through encryption and requires a decryption key in order to restore access to the user. Cybercriminals will often use phishing and social engineering to trick a company employee to click on an attachment or a link to a malicious website, which then allows them to exploit available vulnerabilities to deliver the attack payload. Once a system is infected, the attack will launch an on-screen notification with the ransom demand. Cybercriminals typically request a payment to decrypt files or restore access, which can cost businesses thousands or even millions of dollars if they’re otherwise unable to recover/restore the “lost” files/data. Worse yet are the all-too-common instances where the company pays the ransom, but the attacker never provides the decryption key! With the average cost of a ransomware attack on businesses sitting at $133,000, it’s imperative that employees remain diligent and informed about these types of attacks. The speed at which ransomware attacks are happening is growing at an alarming rate. According to a Cybersecurity Ventures report, it’s expected that businesses will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds by 2021, up from every 14 seconds in 2019.
- Brute-Force Attacks
Cybercriminals will attempt a brute-force attack to gain unauthorized access to secure systems by trying all possible passwords until guessing the correct one. This cyberattack is performed with software designed to try large samples of either common or stolen username/password combinations using a trial and error process. This form of attack can easily go undetected unless your business has a line of defense that monitors for this type of behavior. This method of attack is an old one, but it’s still useful and popular with cybercriminals, especially against businesses that don’t have strict guidelines for managing and updating passwords on a regular basis. In fact, according to theVerizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, stolen credentials remain the #1 hacking tactic used by malicious cybercriminals to perpetrate data breaches. Over 80% of breaches classified as “hacking” involve brute force or the use of stolen credentials.
- Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks
A DDos attack seeks to crash a web server or an online service by flooding it with more traffic than it’s designed to handle. While this type of cyberattack may not seem too destructive on the surface since it does not necessarily result in the attacker gaining access to a company’s network, often is disruptive IT event that allows criminals to enter your system while IT is distracted. DDoS attacks paralyze businesses of all sizes by disrupting critical operations, such as online sales. A DDoS attack on your business can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, rendering your website and associated systems inaccessible for the duration. Most cyberattackers find satisfaction with simply causing the denial of service because it can damage a company’s reputation. Additionally, the attack can disrupt the ability to deliver services to thousands of paying customers, leading to a loss in consumer trust and confidence. Bulletproof’s2019 Annual Cyber Security Report indicates that a DDoS attack can cost up to $120,000 for a small company or more than $2 million for an enterprise organization, and that doesn’t even account for the impact of diminished customer dissatisfaction.
What’s the Main Takeaway?
The first line of defense in combatting any form of offensive strike is to stay informed. The sophistication and variety of cyberattacks is ever increasing; so, it remains the duty of every employee, from the leadership team down to the IT staff to be knowledgeable about cyberattacks.
The most common mistake any employee can make is thinking “I don’t have to worry about this stuff because I’m sure our company has a bunch of cybersecurity products in place that can automatically stop all of these threats.” That type of thinking is a cyberattack waiting to happen, because what many employees fail to realize is that they are targets too. While some cyberattacks are aimed at network defenses and systems, many others seek to take advantage of end users, such as the executive who didn’t take the few extra seconds necessary to check who sent the email with the weird attachment, the salesperson who has repeatedly ignored the overdue notification to update their password, or the marketer that didn’t alert their IT team when there was an abnormal spike in site traffic.
Cybersecurity is truly a team effort. The better informed you and your employees are about the types of cyberattacks headed your way, the better your business will be at avoiding them.