Protecting business data is a growing challenge because cyber threats are getting more intense and sophisticated amid the rising levels of dependence on digital devices and remote work. Unfortunately, cyberattacks involving phishing and malware have placed the assets and sensitive data of individuals, organizations, and governments at risk.
Before we discuss the top 10 cybersecurity breaches that you should worry about, we’ll tell you what a cybersecurity breach is and how to detect cybersecurity threats.
What is a cybersecurity breach?
A cybersecurity breach refers to any malicious attack that damages information, disrupts digital operations, or accesses data unlawfully. Cyber threats originate from different actors, including disgruntled employees, terrorist groups, criminal organizations, corporate spies, and hostile-nation states.
High-profile cyberattacks can result in private information being exposed, especially when businesses fail to implement and test security strategies such as firewalls and encryption. Cybercriminals use an organization’s or individual’s sensitive information to access their financial accounts or steal data.
How to detect cybersecurity threats
Nearly every day, many security incidents go unnoticed because companies do not know how to identify them. Here are ways organizations can easily detect security breaches.
- Unauthorized employees trying to access data and servers – Some employees can do this to determine what information and systems they can access. Warning signs include logging in from different locations or from unusual locations at abnormal times in a short time frame or unauthorized users requesting access to information that isn’t related to their tasks.
- Changes in outbound network traffic – Organizations should not only worry about the traffic that’s coming into a network but also traffic that’s leaving their network. This includes employees sending several emails with attachments outside the organization, downloading large documents to external storage devices, and uploading large files to individual cloud applications.
- Changes in configuration – Unapproved changes including installation of firewall changes or startup programs, added scheduled tasks, and reconfiguration of services is a sign of malicious activity.
- Traffic sent from or to unknown locations – Traffic sent to other countries for businesses that only operate in one location may indicate malicious activity. Thus, administrators should check the legitimacy of traffic to unknown networks.
- Hidden files – This is considered suspicious due to their file locations, sizes, and names. It indicates the logs or data may have been manipulated.
10 common cybersecurity breaches
Cybersecurity incidents can cause intrusions on a company’s network and cost businesses a lot of money to rectify the cybercrime damage. Let’s take a look at top cybersecurity threats and how to deal with them.
- Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack
In this attack, cybercriminals intercept and change messages secretly between two people that believe they’re speaking with each other directly. The attackers manipulate the victims to access the data. Examples of these attacks include Wi-Fi eavesdropping, email, and session hijacking.
Organizations can implement encryption protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) to offer authentication, privacy, and information integrity between two communicating computer apps. Companies should also use VPNs to ensure secure connections and educate workers on the dangers of using public Wi-Fi as these connections can be hacked easily.
- Web application attack
This attack involves thwarting authentication mechanisms and exploiting code-level vulnerabilities in web applications. One example of this attack is a cross-site scripting attack in which cybercriminals inject malicious scripts into content from trusted websites.
Companies should check the code early in the development stage to identify vulnerabilities using dynamic and static code scanners. Web application firewalls can also monitor networks and block attacks. Additionally, bot detection functionality should be put in place to prevent the bots from accessing the app’s data.
- Privilege escalation attacks
Cyberattackers who attempt to access a company’s network may try to get higher-level privileges using privilege escalation exploit. Unfortunately, successful privilege escalation attacks give attackers privileges that other users don’t have.
These attacks happen when cybercriminals take advantage of vulnerabilities in systems or apps, programming errors, or a bug to gain access to protected information. To lower the risk of this attack, companies should identify security weak spots, implement security monitoring, and limit users’ access rights.
- Malware attack
Malware includes various types of viruses such as spyware, ransomware, and Trojan. Some malware is installed when workers install freeware, visit infected websites or click on an ad.
Signs of malware include an increase in pop-up ads or unwanted internet activity, unusually low speeds, sudden loss of disk space, and repeated freezes or crashes. Installing antivirus software can detect and remove malware by performing routine system scans and providing real-time protection.
- Insider threat
This is an accidental or malicious threat to a company’s information or security attributed to former/current employees and third parties including customers and contractors. Businesses should put in place a rigorous archiving and data backup routine, as well as implement antivirus and spyware scanning programs.
It is also crucial to train contractors and employees on security awareness before granting them access to the company network. Implementing employee monitoring software is also necessary to minimize the theft of intellectual property and data breaches. It helps identify malicious, careless, or disgruntled insiders.
- Advanced persistent threat (APT)
An APT is a targeted and prolonged attack executed by nation-states or cybercriminals. The attackers access networks and remain undetected for a long period. The attackers’ goal is usually to analyze a network’s activity and steal the information instead of ruining the network or company.
Monitoring traffic (outgoing and incoming) can help businesses prevent criminals from installing backdoors and accessing private data. Installing web application firewalls such as the Cisco ASA and NGFW Firewalls can filter out application-layer attacks like SQL injection attacks used during the APT infiltration phase.
- Password attack
This attack is aimed at obtaining an account’s or user’s login credentials by guessing passwords via trial and error or using password sniffers/password cracking programs. Businesses should adopt multi-factor authentication for validating users and use encryption on passwords stored in secure repositories.
Additionally, users should use strong passwords, use different passwords for multiple accounts, and change their passwords regularly.
- Unauthorized attempt to access information or servers
Organizations should implement two-factor authentication to prevent cybercriminals from accessing data or severs using accounts of authorized users. Organizations should also encrypt sensitive data as it travels over multiple networks or at rest using high-quality hardware or software technology to make it difficult for attackers to access confidential information.
- Phishing attack
In phishing attacks, attackers masquerade as reputable people or entities in communication channels such as emails. The attackers distribute malicious attachments or links via phishing emails to obtain account information or login credentials from victims. Companies should implement gateway email filters to reduce phishing emails delivered to users’ inboxes.
- Denial-of-service (DoS ) attacks
DoS attacks shut down an entire network or an individual computer, making it difficult to respond to service requests. These attacks send the target some information or flood it with traffic that triggers server crash. Businesses can deal with DoS attacks by rebooting their systems, configuring servers, routers, and firewalls to block bogus traffic.
- 5 biggest cybersecurity threats by Juta Gurinaviciute, February 3, 2021 – Security Magazine
- Alarming Cybersecurity Stats: What You Need To Know For 2021 by Chuck Brooks, March 2, 2021 – Forbes
- 10 types of security incidents and how to handle them by Linda Rosencrance – TechTarget
- Top Cybersecurity Threats in 2021 by Michelle Moore – University of San Diego