One of the scariest things about computer security threats is that they’re constantly reinventing themselves. Hackers and malicious actors are relentlessly adapting to avoid detection and circumvent common security protocols.
The best way to protect yourself against various threats is to first be aware of them so you know what to look for. Then, make sure you have the resources you need (like remote desktop software) to safeguard your organization and its users against different types of cybersecurity threats.
So, what are the most common types of cyberattacks? Keep reading to learn more about what to be aware of and get some useful cybersecurity awareness tips.
What is a Cybersecurity Threat
A cybersecurity threat is any potential for a malicious attack on a computer network with the goal of stealing data, damaging files, spying, or generally disrupting the network environment.
If acted upon, cyber threats become cyberattacks, which can range from a small nuisance to a destructive act that not only compromises network security but can also be quite costly for your organization.
The threats are real, too. In 2018, the Federal Cybersecurity Risk Determination Report and Action Plan reported that 74 percent of government agencies who participated in the risk assessment have “cybersecurity programs that are either at risk or high risk.” Additionally, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found that Federal agencies weren’t even equipped to figure out how cybercriminals were accessing information.
If government agencies are struggling to identify different types of cybersecurity threats, what does that mean for enterprise organizations and small businesses? Are they unprepared, too?
Many organizations may be unprepared, including your own, but it doesn’t have to be.
4 Common Types of Cybersecurity Threats
Cybersecurity threats are on the rise and constantly evolving. They are also becoming more costly for organizations. Between business disruption, information and revenue loss, and equipment damage, it’s estimated that cybercrime cost organizations up to $13 million on average in 2018.
Much of the problem may lie in not having the resources to appropriately identify where the cyber threats are coming from. Even if organizations comply with regulations and have security measures in place, the sophistication of cybercriminals can often outpace the organizations they’re targeting.
Without proper security and knowledge of the kinds of threats you might face, remote desktop access can be especially vulnerable to malicious behavior. Let’s take a look at the most common cyber threats to be aware of:
1. Malware Threats
Malware is an umbrella term that refers to any malicious software that’s used to infiltrate and harm a device or network. Malware attacks and other web-based threats are the most costly type of cyberattacks for organizations. In 2018, organizations saw an 11 percent increase in costs associated with malware attacks–and they come in many forms:
Viruses are one of the most common threats when you consider cybersecurity, going back to the early days of personal computing. Many people and organizations have turned to anti-virus software to help combat viruses.
Viruses work by altering the way a computer, network, or server operates–all without the permission of the user. As a virus executes itself, it often replicates, causing irreparable damage to the host computer or network.
Spyware is a slightly different type of cyber threat in that spyware is specifically designed to profit from or capture your personal or sensitive information, or data. Spyware is like an invisible virus that runs silently in the background to steal information.
A major concern for organizations is having spyware installed on a network unknowingly to the users. Knowing exactly who is connecting, and what permissions they have is vital to preventing this type of malware attack.
Ransomware refers to a type of malware that threatens the exposure of proprietary data (essentially holding parts of your network hostage) until a ransom is paid.
Cybercriminals can access a computer in a variety of ways such as email spam (phishing) or by exploiting gaps in security. A user unknowingly downloads the ransomware and gives access to their network. The level of sophistication can cause some ransomware to be very damaging, even causing important services to go offline and lose millions of dollars.
In 2019, the City of Baltimore was the victim of a severe ransomware attack that cost $18.2 million and took over a month to fully resolve. City governments, universities, and healthcare providers are common targets, with recovery costs estimated at around $7.5 billion.
Adware, or advertising software, is not always a malicious type of cybersecurity threat but may be potentially harmful if the advertiser or distributor is unsafe. Organizations need to be cautious of adware that is installed onto a device without knowledge. These “ads” could be masking unwanted applications (PUAs) or programs that distribute other types of malware.
Another type of cyber threat is hackers. Malicious hackers are cybercriminals who prey on individuals and organizations by breaking into computers, servers, networks, and systems to steal and destroy personal and sensitive information for their own gain. They do so in a variety of ways and for several reasons, but all can be severely damaging for any organization.
With poor authentication practices and user controls, hackers may have easy access to remote desktop sessions. Once accessed, they can compromise sensitive information, lock you out of your computer, hold your data ransom, and even steal your identity.
One of the oldest, and still most effective threats to online security is phishing. Phishing occurs when a user is tricked into thinking that an email or other form of communication is legitimate when it is not.
Often using fraudulent emails, this type of cyberattack can give access to sensitive data like passwords or financial information. Users may think they’re receiving communication from a bank or other business, when in fact, it’s from a bad actor.
Sometimes phishers try to trick people into entering their VPN or remote access credentials, which could allow them to infiltrate your secure remote desktop and snoop around your company network while posing as you.
While phishing emails may seem obvious, they are effective at launching cyberattacks. Famously, during the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager was hacked via a simple email phishing campaign.
4. Data Breaches
A data breach is any type of unauthorized entry into an organization’s network. With entry, cybercriminals can access private information like payment card numbers, Social Security numbers, contact information, and passwords.
This type of cybersecurity threat can be financially costly, but also threatens the reputation of large organizations. Data breaches often go undetected for long periods of time, which is why it’s so important for organizations to use remote access tools that safeguard their networks.
In June, video game giant Nintendo announced a data breach that exposed over 300,000 accounts by using Nintendo Network IDs without permission. Retailers are also common targets because of the large amounts of sensitive data they process and store.
Protect Your Business from Cyber Threats
Now that you know more about the common types of cyber threats, you have to ensure that you’re protecting your networks. No matter how big or small your organization, cybercriminals will try to find ways to get in. Here are tips for making sure you’re protected and choosing the right secure remote access solutions:
Large organizations often use different types of devices, operating systems, and platforms, and they all need to effectively run to maintain operations. What happens, though, when one can’t be configured to another, or you’re operating older software with newer software? Efficiency decreases and cybersecurity threats increase.
With complex systems operating around the world, it’s vital for organizations to be able to configure each part of their network, which can be done with remote desktop tools. These tools can assist with troubleshooting from anywhere in the world, optimize workflows and processes, and ensure regulatory compliance when applicable.
Total Control Over User Permissions
All too often, cybercriminals access networks due to insufficient user controls. If everyone in your network has the same permissions, it’s much easier for a bad actor to gain access. Yet, if users are granted specific permissions by group or role, you have more control over who can go where.
Poor password strength or lack of multi-factor authentication can make it easy for cybercrimes like malware to occur, and to happen quickly.
Multi-factor authentication adds layers of security to your network by requiring multiple credentials to access a part of your network. With secure remote access software, you can set the appropriate levels of authentication to ensure no one but your authorized users can get in.
Logging events is essential for organizations to remain compliant and be able to identify cybersecurity issues. Whether it’s a potential security gap, or when and where a breach occurred, having sufficient logging capabilities can be a big advantage for organizations.
IT personnel can use these logs to:
- Quickly troubleshoot
- Analyze system performance
- Identify suspicious activity
- Find where a breach occurred for necessary patching
- Offer required logging to regulatory bodies
Equip Your Business With Impero Connect
With all the different types of cybersecurity threats, it can be scary to provide remote users access to computers and systems, but Impero has the security protections in place to give you peace of mind.
Impero Connect helps your organization increase efficiency, productivity, and security, and it’s all done with one, simple tool. If you’re looking for a solution that prioritizes security even as your organization grows, then get a free trial of Impero today.