As FBI director Robert Mueller once said: “There are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those that will be.”
If you have any interest in cybersecurity, it’s possible you’ve heard this one before. Regardless of the size of your business, hacking threats are real.
To add to Mueller’s quote, it’s also true that even organisations that have been attacked are vulnerable to being a target once more.
Cybercrime hurts businesses on multiple levels.
Breaches cease operations. Reshape how the employees and the public perceive the company. Damage the business financially. Hinder the growth of an organisation.
What are the most frequent cyber threats that every business should know about? How to prepare for them and fight back?
Five most common cyber incidents for businesses in 2023
There are many different types of threats that could target the business. The major five are:
- Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS)
- Credential stuffing
Most of them have a similar outcome — compromised data. Information either gets into the wrong hands, ends up being leaked, or is tampered with.
These selected top five threats have either increased in frequency, or more damaging versions have been hitting businesses in 2022.
Let’s break them down.
Ransomware, the type of malware that locks data and demands a ransom in crypto in exchange for the key, has been headlining the news quite often lately.
Ever since 2021, we’ve encountered persistent launches of ransomware attacks. Threat actors rely on them to get data they can sell or earn through ransom.
For example, Royal Mail started the year 2023 with one of the worst cases of ransomware that stopped international shipments for weeks.
Social engineering (phishing) is still one of the most common attack vectors that criminals use to target businesses. The scammer requests sensitive information or urges the recipient to visit one of the 611,877 active phishing sites.
The majority of data breaches and ransomware cases begin with phishing. For instance, that pattern is apparent when we take a look at some of the recent data breaches — such as Reddit and Coinbase.
Both of them started with phishing attacks either via email or SMS that bad actors used to contact employees.
3. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
DDoS overwhelms the website or entire network with fake traffic — as a result, they’re painfully slow or crash entirely.
The more traffic is sent to the targeted network, the more damaging the threats DDoS presents. In high volumes, users can’t access the network or leave websites that are too slow.
For 2023, the researchers warn about the growing number of volumetric DDoS attacks.
4. Credential stuffing
Credential stuffing refers to using stolen user credentials to obtain illicit access to the network.
The truth is many people reuse their passwords for multiple accounts (both business and private). When a breach happens, this kind of practice can turn into a security nightmare.
After a data breach, bad actors sell passwords, emails, and possible usernames on hacking forums and the dark web.
Although the overall number of malware attacks has been decreasing, zero-day malware, which targets the vulnerabilities that security teams haven’t had a chance to patch, raises concerns.
Such unexpected threats can bypass traditional anti-malware tools.
With the massive surge in the popularity of artificial intelligence, there’s also a real chance of an increased number of AI-powered malware attacks and even the mutating AI virus designed to change on its own to avoid detection.
Three business security practices to prevent cyber crime
How to fight these common threats? What businesses can do today includes:
- Training staff to apply best security practices
- Having multiple layers of security points to protect your assets
- Managing the attack surface at all times
In an ideal world, only security teams would have to worry about cyber incidents. However, cybercriminals still rely on human errors and will try to exploit the trust of your teams — which is why phishing awareness training is a must.
After that, set layers of security tools and protocols that guard the network. Once you do that, it has to be managed.
In cybersecurity, attack surface refers to any software that could be targeted by a bad actor. Managing it means that the surface is scanned, the data is analysed, and teams can use the new information to fix the issues before a data breach occurs.
Since the surface is rapidly increasing with additions to the company’s infrastructure and an increased number of cyberattacks, most companies nowadays manage their security with the help of automation.
For instance, attack surface management is an AI-based security solution that scans the surface, analyses its findings, and then rates the issues in the risk-based report.
The findings help security teams to mitigate the threat early because the generated report highlights the critical issues.
The automated tool is connected to the MITRE ATT&CK framework, which is regularly updated with the latest reports that companies have disclosed following incidents.
This means that it has data from real-life attacks and can provide effective countermeasures in the case of an incident.
Prevention is imperative
Setting up layered security is essential, but cybersecurity should also be an important part of the company culture — in every stage of the work and development of products.
From the collaboration of developers and security teams to the way the general workforce and higher-ups in the company use the systems, security should be taken into consideration.
Preparing both staff and architecture for a possible incident can help you in avoiding expensive breaches.
The mentioned top five threats are significantly more dangerous for businesses that lack proper security measures.
It’s difficult to say what the future might hold — be it AI-powered malware or mutating computer viruses.
The only thing we know is that having proper security solutions and regularly managing cyber protection is imperative for any business.