Ever since the dot-com boom, cybersecurity has been one of the top priorities of corporations and governments. With the onset of the pandemic in 2019, much of the workforce was shifted to work from home. This gave birth to a new wave of cyberattacks and internet threats. As a result, Many businesses use cybersecurity measures like the Zero Trust framework to protect their organizational network from such internet security threats.
The risks caused by cyberattacks can range from interrupting critical infrastructure operations to disclosing sensitive and confidential data. It also includes deception and the blatant theft of financial resources. Cybersecurity professionals and organizations are actively working to counter the growing threats by developing standards, protocols, and best practices to defend against cyberattacks. Below, we will discuss some of the most common internet security threats in 2022.
Ransomware is malware that is deployed to all the endpoints of a network. This may be done through social engineering, phishing, or a web application attack. Once it gets hold of the system, the Ransomware encrypts the files and demands a ransom payment to restore access to your data. Recently, there have been many large-scale ransomware attacks, including the 2019 Baltimore Ransomware attack and the Colonial Pipeline attack. Millions of dollars were paid in ransom to regain access to the data and files.
Defending against ransomware attacks is more complicated since the attackers use sophisticated evasion techniques that make them untraceable. It also involves a combination of several mitigation techniques. Attackers use sophisticated tactics to bypass traditional ransomware detection tools and hide in trusted, encrypted traffic.
They move across the network and steal data, threatening to publish it if the ransoms are not paid. Thanks to the availability of sophisticated anti-ransom programs, it is possible to scan the code of an executable file and estimate the presence of suspicious activity. Another best practice is to use network segmentation and always keep backup copies of the data and critical files.
Security misconfigurations can make the IT infrastructure more vulnerable to security threats. It is essential for IT security professionals to make sure the configuration settings meet the industry security standards such as OWASP Top 10 and CIS Benchmarks. You might become an easy target for cybercriminals if the security settings are not well-defined and implemented.
Some configuration mistakes include using outdated components, sensitive data exposure, broken access control, and unpatched systems. To gain internal system access, attackers always look for exploitable misconfigurations and errors in the IT infrastructure. Not keeping your operating systems and antivirus softwares up-to-date makes your data unsafe and susceptible to cybercriminals.
The most prominent example of significant loss due to mishandling patches is the WannaCry Ransomware Attack of 2017, in which the attackers could gain access to the users’ data because the Microsoft Windows operating system was not updated.
With the prevalence of hybrid work, we rely more on the cloud for data storage, communication, and work management. Unfortunately, cyber attackers are now looking for ways to exploit this system and gain access to confidential information. Therefore, it has become extremely important to consider networking and cloud security.
Cloud and network security consist of preventive measures, hardware, and software to protect the corporate network from harmful activity. These activities include modifications, incorrect use, unauthorized access, malfunctions, destruction, or improper disclosure of data. Following are some of the attacks that may occur when you use the internet for remote working:
It involves sending simultaneous connection requests to a website until it crashes.
In this attack, the attacker impersonates a company employee to steal sensitive data.
Man in the middle attacks
In this type of attack, the hackers intercept the exchanged information.
In this attack, harmful links are sent to the users so that hackers can access sensitive data such as customers’ personal information, health records, and credit card details.
Social Engineering is the compromise of an individual’s identity who has specific access to the IT infrastructure. Social engineering is the first step the attackers use to penetrate the system. This attack is considered extremely dangerous because it involves human error. It is much easier for the attacker to trick and manipulate humans into giving them the required access. Email impersonation and phishing emails are two of the most common methods attackers use for social engineering purposes.
To mitigate damages caused by human errors, it is essential to create IT awareness programs for employees. These programs should inform them about the risks associated with information security. They should also be provided with the tools and knowledge necessary to defend themselves in case of an attack.
For example, it is crucial that all employees know how to recognize a suspicious email or a dangerous link or how to use personal devices correctly when working from home. Employees should be instructed to create regular data backups on an external device.
Ways to Defend Against Internet Security Threats
There are several ways individuals and organizations can secure their networks against internet threats. The first way is to conduct a risk assessment and draft a cyber security plan. To ensure internet security, users must be aware of their weaknesses. They should plan and implement a solid strategy to counter these issues.
This strategy should include prevention, detection, and response measures to address any threats effectively. Implementing a firewall is also an effective technique to block or slow down internet attacks. It is essential to keep your operating systems and anti-virus softwares up-to-date. Anti-malware, anti-spyware, and IDS (Intrusion Detection System) may protect the network from possible threats.
VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to create a secure link between two or more devices over an Internet connection. VPN can secure data traffic between two or more remote locations or allow users to access a private network from a public device. Encryption is another essential tool for network security. It allows you to protect sensitive data, making them unreadable to anyone who does not have the decryption keys.
Anyone using the internet must proactively assess cybersecurity risks and implement adequate protections that can mitigate the potential of such risks. This especially applies to the professionals working in corporate and government organizations.
While these threats vary in design and intent, adopting the correct precautionary measures can reduce their impact. Small- and medium-sized businesses are more vulnerable to internet threats since they have fewer security measures.