Top Cybersecurity Threats Plaguing SMBs

Top Cybersecurity Threats Plaguing SMBs

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity threats are a significant concern for organizations. The impact of a cyber attack can be devastating, causing financial losses, damage to reputation, and even legal consequences. By 2025, cyberattack damage will amount to about $10.5 trillion annually —a 300 percent increase from 2015. 

The challenge is that the security landscape is incredibly complicated; more numerous and advanced threats, more nebulous and complex compliance requirements, and more challenging and intricate infrastructure to secure. As a result, for even the most adept IT, cybersecurity can be difficult to manage. In this blog, we’ll discuss the top cybersecurity threats you need to know about to safeguard your data and your organization.

1. Malware

One of the most common cybersecurity threats is Malware. Malware is harmful software that disrupts or manipulates an electronic device’s regular operation. Malware can infect computers, smartphones, tablets, servers and even equipment — any device with computing capabilities. In 2020, 61 percent of organizations experienced malware activity that spread from one employee to another. In 2021, that number rose to 74 percent, and in 2022, it hit 75 percent.

How It Works

Malware tricks users into clicking or installing a malicious program from the Internet. Then the malicious code executes harmful actions such as blocking access to files or programs, flooding a browser or desktop with ads, breaking essential system components or rendering a device completely inoperable.

Types of Malware

  • Virus
  • Trojan Horse
  • Worms
  • Spyware
  • Rootkits
  • Ransomware
  • Adware

2. Password Attacks

A password attack is when cybercriminals attempt to guess or brute force their way into a victim’s account by trying different combinations of usernames and passwords. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, compromised passwords are responsible for 81% of hacking-related breaches.

How It Works

Cybercriminals often implement various techniques to exploit personal passwords, including brute force, guessing, and more. Once the attacker solves the password, they use that information to log into the user’s account (typically multiple accounts) and gain access to their personal data to use or share with external sources. 

Types of Password Attacks

  • Credential Stuffing 
  • Keyloggers 
  • Brute Force 
  • Dictionary attacks 
  • Password Spraying
  • Rainbow Table 

3. Social Engineering

Social engineering uses influence, persuasion and observation to trick users into revealing personal information about themselves, which the hacker then uses for fraud. 98% of cyber attacks involve some form of social engineering, and on average, social engineering attacks cost companies $130,000 through money theft or data destruction.

How It Works

Social engineering aims to exploit the victim’s personal interests or emotional intelligence. This technique tricks the victim into revealing sensitive information or performing actions to help the cybercriminal access systems or data. 

For example, a cybercriminal may use fear by convincing the victim they are under criminal investigation for tax fraud or empathy by requesting the victim provide login credentials quickly. Otherwise, employees will not be paid this week. 

Types of Social Engineering

  • Baiting 
  • Scareware 
  • Pretexting 
  • Phishing 
  • Tailgating 

Zero Day Exploits

A zero-day exploit is when hackers take advantage of a software program’s vulnerability before developers can address it, allowing them to steal information, launch denial-of-service attacks, and disrupt operations.

How It Works

Zero-day attacks exploit many vulnerabilities — including buffer overflows, broken algorithms, URL redirects, SQL injection, and password security issues. Once a hacker identifies a security flaw, they quickly determine the most efficient plan of attack and develop a malicious program to exploit it. Then, they infiltrate the system, remotely executing false code to compromise the machine. 

Systems Targeted

  • Operating systems 
  • Web browsers 
  • Office applications 
  • Open source components 
  • Watering holes 
  • Hardware 
  • Internet of Things (IoT)

DDoS Attacks

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a type of cyber attack in which multiple compromised systems, often infected with malware, are used to flood a targeted website or server with traffic. A DDoS attack aims to overwhelm the system and cause it to become unavailable to users. DDoS attacks can be challenging to prevent and mitigate, as they involve large amounts of traffic from many sources.

These attacks often target popular or high-profile sites, such as banks, news and government websites, to thwart or deter target organizations from publishing important information or weaken them financially.

How It Works

DDoS leverages hundreds or thousands of infected “bot” computers located all over the world. Known as botnets, these armies of compromised computers will execute the attack simultaneously for full effectiveness. The hacker or group of hackers that control these infected computers become botmasters, infecting vulnerable systems with malware, often Trojan viruses. When enough devices are infected, the botmaster gives them the command to attack and the target servers and networks are bombarded with requests for service, which in turn effectively chokes them and shuts them down.

Symptoms of a DDoS Attack

Symptoms of a DoS attack can resemble non-malicious availability issues, such as technical problems with a particular network or a system administrator performing maintenance. However, the following symptoms could indicate a DoS or DDoS attack:

  • Unusually slow network performance
  • Unavailability of a specific network service or website
  • An inability to access any website
  • An IP address makes an unusually large number of requests in a limited timespan
  • Server responds with a 503 error due to a service outage
  • Log analysis indicated a significant spike in network traffic
  • Odd traffic patterns, such as spikes at odd hours of the day or practices that appear to be unusual

Remote Work Vulnerabilities

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, most organizations quickly transitioned to a remote workforce and focused more on serving customers through digital channels. However, while this digital transformation has many benefits, like improved employee morale and productivity, it also opened a pandora’s box of security vulnerabilities.

The increased adoption of hybrid work models means security teams are continually challenged to keep users connected and networks secure. Securing devices is a growing problem for organizations now as they’re unable to rely on connecting endpoints to campus networks for visibility and pushing updates. At the same time, employees connect to corporate resources with more personal, unmanaged devices, creating blind spots for security teams.

Types of Remote Work Vulnerabilities 

  • Unsecured Wi-Fi networks
  • Personal devices that don’t adhere to corporate security protocols
  • Lack of security awareness among staff
  • Decreased visibility into endpoints 

Protecting Your Organization from Cybersecurity Threats

There is no way to guarantee that your organization will not experience a cybersecurity breach, especially since intrusions are happening by the thousands or millions every hour. However, you should be able to guarantee that you’ve done everything you can to secure the infrastructure your organization’s sustainable growth depends on and that when the inevitable breach happens, your stakeholders can trust your organization to respond quickly and protect their interestsManaged security services are an effective strategy for businesses that don’t have the in-house resources to better plan, monitor and secure their digital estate today and in the future.

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