They stalk your organization and learn your routines, find out the identities of your employees, and discover your vulnerabilities. They snoop. They poke holes. They narrow in. They go after your weaknesses. Cybercriminals are always looking for their next victim. Could it be you?
With a robust cyber security culture in place, your organization is less likely to fall victim to bad cyber actors. Implementing the highest standards of online behavior helps safeguard your business. Part of that means educating your employees about the risks of new and ongoing threats that prey upon human error and trust.
Here are 7 of today’s most critical network security threats.1. Botnet
A combination of the words “robot” and “network”, a Botnet is a group of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge. They’re often used to deliver large volumes of spam, carryout DDoS attacks (see below), and steal data/credentials. Botnets have the collective computing power to act as a force multiplier for groups looking to disrupt or break into targets’ systems.
Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. Hackers usually trick the victim into clicking on a malicious email link which loads cryptomining code on the computer, or by infecting a website or online ad with code that auto-executes once loaded in the victim’s browser. The cryptomining code then works in the background as unsuspecting victims use their computers normally. The victim may notice the computer’s slower performance while they’re working, but otherwise it can go undetected. The uptick in crytojacking in 2019 is simply the promise of more money for less risk.
Ransomware is malicious malware that threatens to publish or steal victims’ data or prevents users from accessing their systems until a ransom is paid. Ransomware has grown to be one of the biggest problems in network security because it can paralyze large organizations and even whole cities, with Atlanta and Baltimore as recent examples. The infection often starts with someone clicking on what looks like an innocent link or attachment, then turns into a disaster for companies of all sizes when vital files and documents are suddenly inaccessible and held for ransom. However, sometimes paying the ransom won’t fix the problem. Sometimes cybercriminals demand ransom even though the data they took is already destroyed.
A worm is self-replicating malware that duplicates itself to spread to uninfected computers. Its primary function is to infect other computers while remaining active on infected systems. Worms spread by exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems; this kind of attack literally worms its way into systems by finding cracks and replicating itself over and over.
5. Phishing: A phishing attack involves using email to trick employees into believing a message is from a legitimate, trustworthy source. Then, when they click a link in the email or open an attachment, their computer becomes infected. The phisher could be someone pretending to be from the employee’s company, or perhaps a company he/she does business with. Sometimes the message will describe something the employee either wants or needs, or thinks they are expecting— a request from their bank, for instance. Whatever the masquerade, a sophisticated phishing attempt has the appearance of genuine communication but contains genuine harm.
6. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Attack
In a DDoS attack, the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to the internet. DDoS is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted machine from many different sources with superfluous requests in an attempt to overload systems and prevent some or all legitimate requests from being fulfilled.
7. APT (Advanced Persistent Threats)
APT is an undercover, ongoing computer network attack in which a person or group gains unauthorized access to a network with the goal of going undetected for the longest period possible in order to spy, place custom malicious code on multiple computers for specific tasks, gather information, and access sensitive, classified information. Traditionally, APT was associated with governments, but over the last few years there have been multiple examples of non-state sponsored large groups conducting large-scale targeted intrusions for other reasons.
Cyber threats continue to become more and more sophisticated. Every employee of an organization must be educated and aware of the specific vulnerabilities and ongoing cyber threats to your network’s security. By ensuring that all the hardware and software on your network stays up to date and encouraging a culture of cyber security in the workplace, organizations can stay vigilant in the fight against threats.