The landscape of cybersecurity is always evolving, meaning new endpoints, new techniques and new tactics continue to shape the way SOC prioritizes threats.
The increasing use of technology in our daily lives has made us more vulnerable to cyber threats such as hacking, phishing, and ransomware attacks. Cybersecurity plays a critical role in protecting our personal and business data, and ensuring the integrity and availability of digital systems.
According to IBM’s cost of a data breach report, “For 83% of companies, it’s not if a data breach will happen, but when.”
When you think of cybersecurity, think of your front door. What if you had no lock? Or the lock you currently have is irreparably broken. Your personal property is at risk, and the longer you wait to protect yourself, the greater the risk becomes. When detecting, responding to and recovering from threats, organizations need not only a deadbolt lock, but a plan in place to respond quickly if an intruder emerges.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity refers to the practice of protecting digital systems, networks, and sensitive information from numerous threats including:
- Unauthorized access to system, devices and files
- Theft of personal, company and other sensitive information
- Damaged done reputationally and fiscally from a breach
- Disruption, or business downtime in the wake of an attack
The purpose of cybersecurity is to prevent cyber attacks and minimize the damage caused by them.
Common cyber threats
There are thousands of variants, tactics and techniques bad actors leverage to attack vulnerabilities, but at the highest level, cyber threats can be bucketed into 5 primary categories:
The end goal of a malware attack is to steal data and damage or destroy computers and computer systems. Malware comes in many forms, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, and ransomware.
Malware is also the first known type of computer, dating back to a 1971 attack, “The Creeper,” as it was called, was written in PDP-10 assembly language, and could reproduce itself which made it possible to move from computer to computer across ARPANET.
2. Phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are incredibly common, in fact, the attempts of phishing attacks increased by 61% in 2022, according to Verizon's Data Breach Investigations Report. Phishing occurs when a bad actor poses as a legitimate business - usually over email, text or phone - and attempts to lure their target into providing sensitive data such as passwords, access to financial accounts and information, or other personally identifiable data.
The same report from Verizon states that the root cause of most phishing attacks, by 82%, is the human element, with users too commonly clicking a link or providing information that can lead to exploitation.
3. DDoS attacks
Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks (DDoS), is when an attacker floods a server with traffic to disable users from accessing online services. Common types of DDoS attacks include: application layer, protocol or volumetric, and all can create significant downtime on websites resulting in lost business.
Perhaps you recall one of the more infamous DDoS attacks, which occurred on March 12, 2012. Six major U.S. banks, including Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo were targeted by a wave of DDoS attacks after hundreds of hijacked servers from a botnet each generated and distributed over 60 gigabits of attack traffic per second.
Ransomware is hijacking malware that uses encryption to hold files, systems and devices hostage from its owner. The goal of ransomware is typically monetary, with the adversary demanding a ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key.
Investigation from Kaspersky Lab shows that the percentage of users impacted by targeted ransomware doubled in the first 10 months of 2022.
5. MitM attacks
A man in the middle (MITM) attack is a general term for three common methods of cyber crime:
- URL redirect hijack
- Remote access technology interception
- Classic MitM + MFA theft
An adversary’s goal with an MitM attack is to steal personal information, such as credit card numbers, and other sensitive information, for financial gain. They achieve this by positioning themselves in a conversation between a user and an application.
MitM attacks can be difficult for the layman to detect, because it often appears as if a normal exchange of information is underway. MitM attackers typically target financial, technology and retail organizations that require login credentials to access their website and applications.
Types of cybersecurity
As cybersecurity includes the protection of both company and personal data, the fields of cybersecurity and data protection overlap. Accountability for who owns what can become complex, requiring a comprehensive and agile cyber protection strategy - covering all end points - so security flaws don’t become so widespread that your organization is unaware that they're impacted at all.
Network security umbrellas three primary components:
- Preventing unauthorized access to network resources
- Detecting and stopping cyberattacks and security breaches while they are initiating
- Ensuring authorized users have secure access to the network resources they need, when they need them
Comprehensive network security deploys safeguards such as firewalls, network access control, intrusion detection and prevention systems, virtual private networks (VPNs), email security, anti-virus and anti-malware software, mobile device security and more.
While technically a component of network security, application security is detailed enough to deserve its own category. Application security is the act of preventing data or code within the app from being stolen or hijacked. The process of application security is necessary during application development and design through deployment to diminish security vulnerabilities like unauthorized access and modification.
As individuals, SMBs and enterprises continue to rely more heavily on cloud computing, securing cloud architectures and applications against disruptions is more pertinent than ever. Cloud architecture is often a shared responsibility, and vetting 3rd party vendors as a key role in a comprehensive strategy - without it an exploitation frenzy is bound to happen.
Like in the case of zero-day vulnerability Log4J. Because Log4J is a popular service used on Java-based systems, the vulnerability in incomplete security protocols allowed Log4J to infiltrate a wide range of digital products at a consumer and business level, including cloud solutions, web servers, and apps.
IoT security is perhaps the most broad type of cybersecurity in this list, speaking to security of all internet devices - from watches to thermostats to video game consoles and more - and the networks they’re connected to.
For example, in 2020 a hacker uncovered a vulnerability in the firmware of a key fob via Bluetooth connection to Tesla’s model X. This vulnerability enabled the hacker to rewrite the firmware and steal a Tesla in less than 90 seconds.
The sheer breadth of what’s possible with IoT attacks makes proactive threat detection and incident response a growing need for organizations.
An endpoint is any device that connects to the corporate network from outside its firewall including, desktops, laptops, mobile devices and more. Endpoint security is ensuring these entry points of end-user devices are protected from vulnerabilities that can be exploited by bad actors.
A complete endpoint security checklist includes the capabilities to dynamically:
- Prevent file-based malware attacks from happening
- Detect malicious activity when it occurs
- Provide the investigation and triage action items
Database security encompasses tools, processes, and methodologies which establish security inside a database environment. With that, the goal of database security is to secure sensitive data and maintain the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of the database by deploying tactics like securing or "hardening" a database server, data encryption, advanced threat protection, access control and more.
Without database security in place, mission-critical data is easily exposed.
In fact, in 2019, SMS provider TrueDialog made headlines after its database breach exposing years of sent and received text messages from its customers. The SMS provider’s database was left unprotected without a password, with none of the data encrypted making it possible for anyone to look inside. What the adversaries found was incredibly valuable too: codes to access online medical services, and password reset and login codes for sites including Facebook and Google accounts.
Not all cyber attacks are done virtually. Physical attacks occur when an unauthorized person enters into a safe or restricted area with the intentions of damaging or stealing assets, installing malware on systems, or enabling remote access.
Physical attacks are carried on in a number of ways that require physical security by way of surveillance, and access control. For example, tailgating is when an attacker follows an authorized person to a reserved area without scanning in. Piggybacking is when an attacker tricks an authorized person into providing access to reserved areas.
5 benefits of cybersecurity
1. Protection against cyber attacks
From financial losses, to an at-risk reputation, to the resources required to mitigate and do damage control in the wake of a cyber attack - protection against cyber attacks is nearly invaluable, but the price tag of not taking measures is high.
IBM’s Cost of a data breach report shows that, “a data breach in the US costs over twice the global average.” With Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report indicating that, “A single attack -- be it a data breach, malware, ransomware or DDoS attack -- cost companies in the U.S. a median of $18,000 in 2022, with 47% of all U.S. businesses suffering a cyber attack in some way."
As cyber criminals become more agile, sophisticated, and stealthy, more protections, and better cybersecurity poster across organization is required to ward off damages caused by cyber attacks.
2. Risk management
SOCs are barely staying afloat when it comes to handling with the sheer number of cyber threats to monitor and detect, and often feel alert fatigue. Implementing cyber risk management systems, especially with systems that leverage automation, help organizations properly and correctly set up defenses to reduce threats from cyber attacks, and improve response times.
IBM’s report on the cost of data breaches states, “Organizations using AI and automation had a 74-day shorter breach lifecycle and saved an average of USD 3 million more than those without.”
3. Regulatory compliance
Non-compliance can naturally open the doors to vulnerabilities - rules are in place as a safeguard, but not complying can also result in hefty regulatory fines.
For example, in three separate data breaches spanning from 2012 - 2013, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center lost personal health information of over 33,500 patients at the cancer center. The exploitation was due to a lack of encryption, which HIPAA mandates. As a result of non-compliance, the cancer center was ordered to pay a $4.3 million fine.
4. Business continuity
Time is money. Think of a DDoS attack, where customers are unable to access your website for hours at a time - how much business would you lose? What if a cyber attack left your organization rebounding for months at a time?
To prevent or mitigate incidents and protect your bottom line, it’s essential to outline clear steps, actions and responsibilities to eliminate business disruption should a cyber emergency occur. By planning incident response ahead of time, a business can also ensure their response is compliant with regulators and GDPR.
5. Customer trust
Any organization that’s in the business of selling products or services, is also selling trust. Your customers want to know they are protected, your reputation is strong, and that doing business with you won’t translate into trouble for them in the future.
To maintain the trust with your customers, responsiveness to cyber attacks is only one part of the equation. Another (and arguably more important) aspect is being able to clearly and demonstrably articulate the processes you’ve laid forth for data protection ahead of an incident.
- How are your privacy and security teams different?
- How do they collaborate?
- Who plays a role in product development or IT procurements?
Without answers to these questions, you may lose in the battle for consumer trust.
What are the most significant cybersecurity challenges?
Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field
Perhaps no cybersecurity trend has been bigger in the last several years than the explosion of attacks related to the supply chain, which rose in volume by over 600% from 2021-2022.
One example of supply chain attack was the one against SolarWinds and Microsoft in 2021. According to Reuters, the operation gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used its products.
“U.S. intelligence services said last month that Russia was “likely” behind the SolarWinds breach, which they said appeared to be aimed at collecting intelligence rather than destructive acts.”
Supply chain attacks aren’t the only evolving technique - crypto jacking another new trend growing in popularity over the last year - and as threats inevitably continue to evolve, technology and resources are required to keep up, remain agile, and stay ahead.
Threats are also ever-evolving
Threat techniques are not only growing in sophistication and technique, but they are also growing in frequency and size.
For example, in 2022 a Minecraft Server, Wynncraft was struck by a 2.5 Tbps DDoS attack launched by a Mirai botnet variant. According to Cyber Security News, attacks of this size were once an anomaly, and now “DDoS attacks with multiple terabits of bandwidth are becoming more and more common. An attack that peaked at 3.47 terabits per second in November 2021 was one of the largest ever reported DDoS attacks.”
This further reiterates the need for proactive, bullet-proof threat detection & incident response systems.
Skill gaps are limiting organizations
The "State of Cyber Security” report from ISACA revealed that 62% of organizations feel they are understaffed in terms of cybersecurity professionals, while 60% of organizations have trouble retaining qualified cybersecurity staff. Further, at the end of 2022, (ISC)2 Cyber Security Workforce Study reported there was a security workforce gap of 436,080 jobs in the U.S. and 3.4 million globally, according to the 2022.
The skills gap is partly due to the fact that security experts are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. Another reason is that security professionals don’t feel set up for success in a role with chronic overload.
Supporting staff with tools to succeed is essential for organizations to also succeed in the evolving landscape of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity in the age of automation
Given the growing complexities of cybersecurity, pared with the skill gaps most organizations face, implementing AI and machine learning into your cybersecurity plan is one way to mitigate attacks and burnout, while protecting your organization from the damages of cyber attacks.
Employing AI and machine learning like Anvilogic’s platform helps with:
- Threat detection & incident response: Organizations can quickly identify and respond to potential threats before they can cause significant damage.
- Helps to eliminate alert fatigue: Free up your cybersecurity professionals so they can focus on more complex and strategic activities, and avoid burnout and high churn rates.
- Predictive analytics: Analyze historical data to identify patterns and predict future cybersecurity risks so you can have a proactive front in your security measures.
- Behavioral analysis: Analyze user behavior to identify potential insider threats, such as employees who may be accessing or manipulating data for malicious purposes, and stop preventable attacks before they begin.
- Automation: By automating the process of threat detection and incident response, you’re less likely to observe the common challenges of cybersecurity while ensuring you’re remaining compliant.
Have we piqued your interest?