Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, and businesses of all sizes must participate in an ongoing arms race against hackers and cybercriminals. But business leaders should also endeavor to understand the most important cyberthreats. Doing so allows you to anticipate potential vulnerabilities and nip cyberattacks in the bud before they affect your operations.
Ransomware attacks are becoming more costly and prevalent all the time. These cyberthreats are unique attacks that lock employees and business leaders out of sensitive files, then project a ransom screen demanding money (usually in cryptocurrency) to unlock those files again.
Managed service providers (MSPs) in particular must beware of ransomware attacks. These businesses are prime targets for hackers and other cybercriminals since they usually have a lot of clients and access to many important personal and company files. MSPs should never pay the demanded ransom if they are subjected to these attacks, as there’s no guarantee that the cybercriminal responsible will actually release the files after receiving the payment.
Malware attacks (other than ransomware) are also widespread and represent a major threat to MSP cybersecurity. These attacks are dangerous partly because they are always changing and can be distributed in many different ways, such as email attachments or through employees visiting insecure websites.
Malware attacks have grown in frequency over the years—there was a 365% jump in malware attacks ↗ targeting businesses between 2018 and 2019 alone. Successful malware attacks can lead to server outages, stolen files, damage to company systems and many other negative effects.
The best way to defend against malware attacks is to invest in high-quality antivirus software and educate your employees about good cyber hygiene practices.
Email phishing scams
Good cyber hygiene habits will also help to protect your organization against email phishing scams, which are only possible due to employees falling for tricks.
Email phishing scams involve an employee opening a suspicious email or clicking a suspicious email link. Doing this may inadvertently expose the entire business network to a virus or hacker’s control. Some employees may even cover up their role in the breach, potentially leading to worse consequences or at the very least slowing down remediation efforts.
Teaching your employees good cyber hygiene ↗ and smart email practices is key to avoiding these issues. For example, employees should never open an email from a sender they don’t recognize, nor should they click a link from someone they don’t trust.
Furthermore, organizations like MSPs can configure their email clients with digital certificates. This way, you can build a network of trusted email addresses to ensure secure email communications.
Social engineering attacks
Social engineering attacks target individuals and workplaces by exploiting human errors or mistakes. For example, phishing attacks are a type of social engineering attack ↗, but this category encompasses many other strategies.
Baiting, for instance, involves a hacker planting a flash drive with an important or attractive label in a place where a company employee may see it. The employee then plugs the loaded flash drive into a terminal, unleashing a malware virus or giving a hacker access to business networks.
Another version of a social engineering attack is an email or online communication from a hacker impersonating a cybersecurity expert or an authoritative figure. Digital security seminars and educational classes will go a long way toward preventing your employees from falling for these scams.
So-called man-in-the-middle attacks are common and dangerous due to today’s widespread business migration to remote and hybrid work models. For example, a worker accessing business files from home may decide to go to a coffee shop and use an unsecured internet network there.
Unsecured Wi-Fi connections, unfortunately, allow hackers to insert themselves between the Wi-Fi provider and the employee workstation. These attacks thus target remote employees more than any other group.
You should educate your employees about man-in-the-middle attacks and how to avoid them. For example, teach them to avoid unsecured networks and never to use public Wi-Fi for work connections. If working in a public space, employees can use VPNs to mask their IP addresses and make it more difficult for hackers to insert themselves between connections in the first place.
Cloud storage attacks
Many businesses now leverage cloud storage to make their operations more efficient and store valuable files safely. However, some hackers can bypass outdated cloud firewalls and attack cloud storage servers. They may gain access to critical company or customer data, opening up organizations to massive fines and other penalties via legislation like the GDPR or CCPA.
While not very common, cloud storage attacks can be devastating if successful. Your business should therefore only contract with a cloud storage provider that you trust, and that has a track record of excellent digital security.
Mobile app and device vulnerabilities
More people than ever use mobile devices like iPhones or tablets. Unfortunately, many use the same mobile device for work and personal communications or gaming apps. Mobile app vulnerabilities are a top cyber threat in 2022 due to hackers creating fake apps that look like genuine tools or games.
Some users may be fooled into permitting those apps to infect their phones with malware and other viruses. Criminals can then take over accounts, get access to personal or company data, and much more. Keeping company data secure and staying safe on phones thus requires that employees use dedicated work-only phones for all business communications and activities. Employers can also look at implementing proper BYOD policies that will keep their information safe even if employees are using personal devices, which is quickly becoming the norm.
Stay vigilant and avoid these top cyberthreats
These seven cyber threats are just the tip of the iceberg of the digital vulnerabilities ↗ and attacks you may encounter. Remember to stay current with your cybersecurity news and keep your software and servers updated and protected. The best defense against cyberthreats is always knowledge and preventative action.