Cybersecurity is a top concern for today’s business owners and technology executives, and with good reason. In the first half of 2020 alone, 36 billion records were exposed due to data breaches, according to a report generated by the firm RiskBased Security. Hackers are aware of common vulnerabilities that plague businesses and organizations, keeping cybersecurity professionals constantly on their toes. As the ability to access cyberspace expands due to tech innovations, the number of cybersecurity issues organizations may face also grows.
Organizations and cybersecurity attacks
Cybersecurity attacks can happen to any organization at any time. In 2020, established organizations such as Marriott, MGM Resorts, Twitter, and Magellan Health all fell victim to cyber attacks. Yet hackers don’t just go after heavyweights. More than one in four data breaches involved small businesses, according to Verizon Business’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report.
These attacks can be expensive. A 2019 report from Hiscox revealed the average cost of a cyber attack to be around $200,000. This economic impact has created great concern, especially among small business owners. A survey conducted by the U.S. Small Business Association revealed 88% of small businesses felt their operation was vulnerable to a cyber attack.
Preventing these attacks is financially critical. There are several different cybersecurity issues to be aware of in today’s business landscape — issues that only a seasoned cybersecurity professional may be able to help prevent.
Social engineering represents a catch-all term for various tactics that are used by hackers. These tactics are designed to trick individuals into giving out sensitive or confidential information. More often than not, these types of attacks appear as phishing. According to security software company Digital Guardian, phishing represents 91% of social engineering attacks.
Phishing attacks rely on emails designed to look like they come from a legitimate source, such as a business, bank, or a government agency. When recipients click on a link or open a file within the email, they expose their network to malware. The practice has grown in sophistication over the years, making it crucial for employers to train their staff to understand what these attacks may look like, and how to avoid falling for their deception.
Ransomware is another tactic used by hackers. The objective is to hold a company’s data hostage until the affected user pays a specific dollar amount, which can often be hefty. These attacks can use email to penetrate a system, but can also be initiated by visiting an infected website, clicking on an online ad with malicious code, or hackers exploiting network vulnerabilities. Prevention requires a combination of training employees to exercise judicious caution regarding the websites they visit, and remaining diligent in identifying and fixing system vulnerabilities.
Cloud computing issues
The amount of valuable information that resides on multiple data sources has grown exponentially from the early days of computing. The opportunity for organizations of all sizes to have their data compromised grows as the number of devices that store confidential data increases. Cloud storage and the Internet of Things (IoT) have exposed new vulnerabilities. Organizations and businesses must make security plans that take new security threats into consideration, rather than only protecting business computers and mobile devices.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)
The hallmark of these attacks is coordination. A cyber attacker floods the system with a high number of simultaneous functions, such as a request to a webpage. The goal is to overwhelm networks, systems, or devices. This can ultimately expose vulnerabilities that cyber attackers can exploit. Like other forms of cyber attacks, this method’s sophistication has increased as technology has evolved, making it vital for organizations to be aware of the latest innovations to protect against these types of cybersecurity issues.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
In the hands of cyber criminals, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can enable cyber attacks to become more sophisticated and efficient. Both can “learn” which attack methods work and which do not, making them valuable tools for criminals. Fortunately for savvy cybersecurity professionals, AI and machine learning can also be deployed to combat cyber attacks.
Crypto and blockchain attacks
The use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in business continues to increase. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global cryptocurrency industry (hardware, software, platforms, and services) is projected to reach nearly $5 billion by 2030. This digital form of monetary exchange has become fertile ground for cyber attackers, as the infrastructure needed to safeguard the information associated with these assets has been slow to develop. Those looking to use blockchain in their businesses should take great care to make sure their cybersecurity strategies include protection for these emerging, evolving markets.
Small businesses represent an appealing target to cyber attackers. One reason is that their smaller computer infrastructures can occasionally provide gateways to bigger targets. Small businesses usually don’t have robust security protocols in place that prevent theft. A famous example of this type of attack was the Target breach of 2013. The attack’s origins traced back to an initial cyber attack on a small business that serviced Target’s heating and air conditioning. This incident eventually led to the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card numbers and around 70 million personal records holding sensitive information.
Keep one step ahead of cybersecurity issues
Clearly, vulnerabilities abound for both large and small organizations in the new age of cybersecurity threats. Understanding hackers’ methodologies can mitigate the imminent threat of data loss. By monitoring trends and new technologies, cybersecurity professionals can prevent the potentially catastrophic damage of a large-scale data breach.
Learn how Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in cybersecurity program can help prepare you to be a valuable asset in the fight against cyber crime.
Cybersecurity Careers for Tech-Savvy Millennials and Gen Zers
What Business Owners Can Learn From the Biggest Data Breaches
Allied Market Research, “Cryptocurrency Market Size, Share and Analysis | Forecast – 2030”
CSO, “DDoS Explained: How Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Are Evolving”
Digital Guardian, “Social Engineering Attacks: Common Techniques & How to Prevent an Attack”
Entech, “Anatomy of a Data Breach, What We Learned from Target”
Federal Trade Commission, “Ransomware”
Fortune Business Insights, “Cryptocurrency Market Size, Share and COVID-19 Impact Industry Analysis, 2020 – 2027”
Hiscox, “Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2019”
ISACA, “Top Cyber Attacks of 2020 and How to Build Cyber Resiliency”
RiskBased Security, “2020 Q3 Report: Data Breach Quickview”
U.S. Security and Exchange Commission, “The Need for Greater Focus on the Cybersecurity Challenges Facing Small and Midsize Businesses”
U.S. Small Business Association, “Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats”