Cybersecurity Trends-Arvig Content
CyberSecurity2 July 14, 2016

Cybersecurity Trends: Common Threats for Businesses in 2016

Written by Arvig in Blogs Managed IT

Loss of digital or electronic information is a particular concern for any organization that relies on data as its key asset. At the same time, cybersecurity threats have evolved, and businesses require sophisticated and prompt measures to protect sensitive information. Choosing the right solution is dependent on understanding both existing and potential new threats, and having using solutions that are capable of addressing those threats effectively. Evolving technologies such as cloud, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) are demonstrating the importance of security and risk management as fundamental disciplines.

Rising security risks are expected to take the following forms throughout the year:

M2M Attacks

The sheer number of connected devices presents ample opportunities for hackers. A majority of devices in use are not built for security from the ground up. Mobile computing aids in the rise of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) attacks, particularly through smartphones. Attackers can ‘scout’ for vulnerabilities in the device and can utilize multiple paths to complete the scouting mission. The most common scouting tactic occurs when the owner browses a certain website or downloads a malicious app. Strong end-point security measures are necessary to prevent cybercriminals from using connected devices as channels to compromise data and network security.

Headless Worms

Many devices including smartphones, smartwatches, medical devices and appliances are vulnerable to a new type of malicious code—headless worms. A worm is standalone malware that replicates itself across multiple computers. Headless worms target specific types of devices designed with the least security protection. Infected devices can be used as additional resources to create botnets, or “zombies,” to access the networks that connect the devices. The more devices infected, the greater harm a worm can create. Software updates provide the greatest protection against worms, as they often seek to resolve any known vulnerabilities in the operating system or application. And be cautious when opening emails from unknown senders.

Jailbreaking the Cloud

Cloud providers and users of the cloud must be diligent in protecting the information existing in digital storage. Still, attackers will create malware to crack the cloud, either to get information or access computing resources. Jailbreaking uses an exploit in the cloud design to remove restrictions and utilize the cloud for purposes other than designed, or to make the cloud more vulnerable to further attack. Like jailbreaking an iPhone, this practice is conducted by cloud users who want the most bang for their bucks. Many mobile apps rely on the cloud, so a viable entry for attack is through a compromised device or application. The easiest, most effective solution here is to simply avoid jailbreaking practices and not attempt to manipulate security measures to save some cost.

Ghostware and Two-faced Malware

The success of attackers depends on their ability to not get detected. As attackers become more sophisticated, so do law enforcement agencies. Ghostware is any malware designed to penetrate a network while concealing its entry. Ghostware may be used in conjunction with blastware, which destroys or disables the network when it is detected. Protection against ghostware requires owners to clearly know what vulnerabilities exist in the network and working diligently to correct or monitor those vulnerabilities.

Attackers are also creating two-faced malware. This software seems benign under close observation, but morphs into malicious code when not observed. Keep your business network, applications and computers up-to-date with security protocols and anti-virus software to deter these kinds of attacks.  

Ransomware Still Tops the Charts

In the underground cybercrime ring, money is a primary motivation and ransomware is an effective way for criminals to make bank. Ransomware attacks allows cybercriminals to take control of the target’s computer and lock down the system, holding it hostage and setting a ransom before allowing access to the data. At this point, the victim has two options: pay the fee – risking financial loss – or try to unlock the system on your own. Proper installation of anti-virus software and firewall protection can help a business protect and prevent ransomware attacks.

Purpose of Attacks

Attackers may attempt to gain entry for any number of reasons, including just the entertainment value. The most protected networks are often toted as “Holy Grails” for the hacker community and become prized accomplishments for any hacker who can successfully break the defenses. Activists may seek to disseminate confidential information to the public. Extortionists may hold a company ransom for the information they have. Other hackers are seeking to expose corruption or wrongdoing by the company or a single individual in the company. Still, others are seeking to change the information. Some attacks are simply to prepare for a much bigger, sometimes unknown, attack by creating backdoors, while others are siphoning resources from multiple networks to attack a much bigger network. The reasons for attacks may not always be clear right away, so monitoring the network for potential threats is critical.

Security must be a priority for every company. Current updates should be installed on every system, and strict maintenance plans should be enforced. However, most security measures can start at the employee level. Educate your employees on security policies and potential threats, and make sure they know how to identify malicious emails, infected links, etc. Make your team the front-line defense against cyberattacks.