Written by Devin Partida
As the pandemic starts to fade, it can be easy to fall into a false sense of security. While there’s finally an end to COVID-19 insight, the cybersecurity pandemic rages on. 2020 was a record year for cybercrime, and the same threats will plague 2021.
Amid the disruptions of 2020, many businesses embraced remote work, cloud services, and IoT technologies. These changes, in turn, led to a shifting cybersecurity landscape as cybercriminals adapted and new threats emerged. The subsequent wave of cybercrime encouraged 91% of organizations to increase their cybersecurity budgets in 2021.
As companies expand their cybersecurity systems, these are the top five threats they should consider.
Ransomware is far from a new threat, but these attacks skyrocketed last year.
One study revealed that ransomware incidents rose by 435% over 2019 levels, costing $440,750 on average. Ransomware tactics are also becoming more alarming, with cybercriminals threatening to expose sensitive data, not just encrypt or delete it.
As data plays an increasingly crucial role in business, ransomware becomes a more lucrative crime. While attacks on large corporations can be more profitable, many target small and medium-sized companies, too. In 2021, no business, regardless of size, can afford to ignore the threat of ransomware.
Many ransomware incidents start as phishing attacks, so thorough employee training is a must. Regularly backing up mission-critical or sensitive data is also crucial to mitigate the impact of a ransomware attack.
Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 30% of data breaches in 2020 involved internal actors. As more employees work from home, insider threats become a more prominent concern. Most of these incidents aren’t due to malicious insiders but instead ignorance or complacency, which remote work can foster.
When employees work remotely, IT teams may encounter difficulty ensuring they’re not acting dangerously. Being in the comfort of their own homes can lead to complacency and unsafe behavior. Cybercriminals have jumped on this opportunity, often targeting these workers in phishing schemes.
The best way to handle insider threats like this is to provide thorough security training to all employees. Companies should also hold frequent refresher sessions to ensure no one forgets any best practices. Remote monitoring software can also help detect and stop any unsafe behaviors.
IoT adoption is rising among businesses in multiple industries. Similarly, many people have IoT devices in their homes, where a rising number of employees now work. All of these endpoints represent possible entryways for cybercriminals, and security solutions often overlook them.
While many companies may be unaware of these threats, cybersecurity professionals are growing more concerned about them. The Department of Defense now requires mobile device and supply chain security from some of its contractors to prevent destructive IoT attacks. Other businesses would be wise to act similarly.
Keeping IoT devices on a separate network from other company systems can mitigate these threats. That way, these gadgets can’t serve as entryways to more sensitive data. Automated endpoint monitoring can also help respond to these threats in time.
Like ransomware, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks aren’t a new phenomenon. While they aren’t novel, they are increasing, as there were more than 10 million DDoS attacks in 2020. That’s more incidents in a year than security professionals have ever observed before.
As more businesses have moved to the cloud, these brute-force efforts have proved painfully effective. With more valuable information on the cloud, slowing or crashing these networks can be remarkably destructive. Since many of these companies are new to the cloud, they may not know how to secure it properly.
Proactive patch management can minimize the vulnerabilities that DDoS attacks take advantage of. Network monitoring can help discover and stop these breaches before they cause too much damage.
Deepfakes are a new cybersecurity concern, but one that many professionals expect to rise in 2021. A deepfake uses deep learning algorithms to manipulate images, videos, or audio files. These falsified files can be incredibly lifelike. As such, they can produce highly convincing phishing attacks.
As more video and audio samples of people emerge online, deepfakes have more information at their disposal. As a result, they’ll become more lifelike and convincing. In one instance of a deepfake attack, cybercriminals demanded a $243,000 transfer by impersonating an executive’s voice.
In light of this threat, it’s more crucial than ever for businesses to remain skeptical and verify everything. Zero-trust policies can help ensure all transactions and processes are legitimate. Being careful about putting personal information online is also a recommended step to mitigate the threat of deepfakes.
Like many other things in 2021, cybersecurity is changing. Cybercriminals are adapting to shifting business practices, taking advantage of vulnerabilities that emerge in the transition. Amid this rising threat landscape, all businesses should review their cybersecurity practices.
These five threats and vulnerabilities don’t encompass all the cybercrime companies could encounter, but they’re the most threatening. Businesses should take care to consider and defend against these attacks. Thorough preparation could just save a company from financial ruin.
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