As cybersecurity threats continue to rise, they pose significant risks to our personal information, financial security, and even national security. To help raise awareness, October was designated as Cybersecurity Awareness Month—a time to reflect on the importance of securing our world and to focus on online safety.
This is the twentieth year of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but cyber risk continues to grow and spread. What are the primary cyber threats that we face today, and how has the cybersecurity landscape changed? To find the answers, we spoke with CYE Founder and CEO Reuven Aronashvili and Field CISO and Vice President Ira Winkler. Here are their responses.
The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape
In the past 20 years, there have been both minimal and major changes to the cybersecurity landscape. Just as it was two decades ago, the cybersecurity landscape remains fraught with constant threats, and cyberattacks and malicious activities continue to be a major concern. In additional, hackers continue to be motivated to attack—whether it be for financial gain, public recognition, nationalistic reasons, or just the challenge.
However, the cybersecurity landscape has increased in complexity compared to 20 years ago. Technology has advanced rapidly, leading to a proliferation of interconnected devices and systems, such as IoT, cloud computing, mobile devices, and more. This complexity has introduced new attack vectors and challenges in securing the digital environment. Moreover, regulatory requirements have become more stringent, creating the need for enhanced cybersecurity measures.
The Most Common Cyber Threats for Consumers
- Phishing remains a prevalent and highly effective threat. This is when cybercriminals use deceptive emails, messages, or websites to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information like passwords or credit card details.
- Ransomware attacks on individuals and small businesses also continue to rise. Cybercriminals encrypt personal data and demand a ransom for its release. This can be financially devastating and lead to the loss of important files.
- Credential theft involves targeting consumers to steal usernames and passwords. These credentials can be used for various malicious activities, such as unauthorized access to email or social media accounts, identity theft, or further attacks.
There are also some less common, but highly intriguing cyber threats to consumers:
- Artificial Intelligence tools can be leveraged by malicious actors to carry out more sophisticated and effective cyberattacks. For example, with AI-enhanced social engineering, AI can assist in analyzing and predicting human behavior, allowing hackers to craft more convincing social engineering attacks that exploit psychological factors.
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become ubiquitous in our homes, businesses, and industries, but they also introduce a host of cybersecurity threats. Some IoT devices that can be a threat to cybersecurity include medical devices, connected vehicles, smart home, and many others.
The Most Common Cybersecurity Threats for Businesses
As with consumers, ransomware and phishing attacks continue to be a significant threat to businesses. Ransomware attacks can cause data loss, operational disruptions, and financial loss, and phishing often serves as an entry point for other cyber threats.
In addition, whether through current or former employees, associates or contractors, 20% of business data breaches come from trusted insider threats. Bad actors act out of greed or sometimes disgruntled employees act out of bitterness. Either way, their dissemination of critical information can cause significant financial damage.
Defending Against Cyber Threats
The focus of this year’s National Cybersecurity Month is around four ways to stay safe online. They include:
- Use strong passwords
- Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA)
- Recognize and report phishing
- Update software
According to our experts, some additional ways that consumers and businesses can protect themselves include:
- Secure home networks: Given the increase in remote work, educating individuals on securing their home networks is crucial.
- Social engineering awareness: This includes educating users about various forms of social engineering attacks beyond phishing, such as pretexting or baiting.
- Data privacy: Focusing on the importance of protecting personal data and understanding privacy settings on social media platforms.
- IoT device security: As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands, awareness of securing smart devices is increasingly important.
- Safe online shopping: Guidance on secure online shopping practices, especially during the holiday season.
Want to learn more about how to improve your organization’s cybersecurity? Contact us for more information.