Security threats can cause significant and irreparable damage to the finances and reputation of an organization. No company should take these threats lightly. It only takes one vulnerability or lapse to destroy everything a business worked hard to build from the ground up.
Awareness is a crucial advantage against these types of security threats to organizations. Knowing how cybercriminals operate and their motivations will be essential insights in crafting a robust defense.
This article will discuss the various security threats and risks your organization must be aware of to prepare for robust cybersecurity defense.
APT (Advanced Persistent Threats)
Cybercriminals that conduct Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) want to play the long game when hacking an organization. They move stealthily and in detailed coordination to infiltrate a computer network, finding entry and exit points that will allow them to remain undetected.
Once inside an enterprise, they snoop around, install custom malicious code, and gather vital data and sensitive information.
They use state-of-the-art technology such as malware and computer intrusion techniques to destroy the cybersecurity of an organization. These digital attackers are relentless, opting to deploy subtle means to gain access to a company to cause damage.
There are typically five progressions that an Advanced Persistent Threat undergoes to maximize its damage:
- Access Infiltration
APT attackers attempt to establish entry inside the system through phishing, trojan horses, or malware. They can also exploit human vulnerability, necessitating cybersecurity training within the organization to counter these threats.
- Strengthening of Grip
The strength of an Advanced Persistent Threat is to find a foothold inside the enterprise. They need to establish a definite way to enter and exit the system without detection. Cybercriminals achieve this with the help of digital backdoors and tunnels.
- Infesting the System
Once they can move as freely as they want, APT attackers will begin hacking the system by gaining administrator rights and cracking passwords left and right. With this kind of access, they can gather their target data with minimal resistance.
- Lateral Activity
The enterprise is the playground of cybercriminals at this point. They will explore other compartments of the system to access other secure databases and servers within the vicinity. They collect the data with malware and then transport it out of the network using the established backdoors. The breach begins here.
- Deep Machinations
During this phase, the APT attackers have complete mastery of the enterprise, removing the evidence of their hacking footprint and establishing a reliable backdoor for future use. This maintains the shelf life of the cyber attack within the system.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
The disruption of a website is the primary goal of cybercriminals when they deploy Distributed Denial of Service or DDOS.
In a nutshell, they swarm a target network with artificial requests to overload the system in a way that will trigger its malfunction. Legitimate users or clients will then have no access to the website because it will go offline. DDoS can cause significant losses in production because of these unnecessary disruptions.
It is difficult to stop a Distributed Denial-of-Service attack because the incoming barrage doesn’t come from a single origin. Envision a restaurant wherein an unruly crowd gathers in the front door to cause a commotion. The legitimate customers will be unable to enter, disrupting the operations of the restaurant of that day. High-profile DDoS targets are credit card and digital wallet payment gateways.
The first DDoS attack happened on September 6, 1998, when the Internet Service Provider Panix became inaccessible to its clients after a flood attack. Another notable instance was in 1997 when Khan C. Smith demonstrated a DDoS attack to disable the online access of the Las Vegas strip for over an hour.
Ransomware is digital extortion, a form of malware from cryptovirology that hackers execute and encrypt to perfection once they have established a presence in your network. They steal vital corporate data or sensitive personal information of clients and then threaten the victim organizations to compromise these data unless the company pays a ransom.
Through the years, ransomware became a leading cybercrime methodology to extort organizations. Notable examples are the ransomware hacks of Atlanta, Georgia and Baltimore, Maryland, and other high-profile organizations.
Digital attackers weaponize the vital information that they locate within an infiltrated network. Standard methods include using a seemingly harmless attachment or link to bait personnel to access the company.
The first documented ransomware attack was by Joseph Popp in 1989 when he designed the AIDS Trojan. This malware hid the complex drive files and encrypted them, severely hampering its access that was necessary back then to pay the blackmailer to regain access to the files.
Victims of the AIDS Trojan had to pay US$189 to PC Cyborg Corporation to receive the repair tool and decryption key. Popp didn’t face his trial because he had a medical diagnosis as mentally unfit. He promised to donate the profits of his malware to AIDS research.
Phishing is one of the essential means of cybercriminals in hacking a system. It is the gateway to other advanced security threats such as ransomware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS).
Trickery is the primary element of phishing. Digital attackers craft email blasts that make it appear as though it originated from a legitimate source. Unknowingly clicking through these attachments or links can infect a computer and its network.
Typical impersonations include hackers disguising as a senior employee or as a client company. They may pretend to be something the victim employee expects, such as a business transaction or a bank request. The success of phishing depends on its sophistication and how it can fool its targets into genuine communication.
The term “phishing” is a variation of the word “fishing,” a reference to how cybercriminals lure their victims as though they were unsuspecting fish taking a fisherman’s bait. Its first documented use was back in 1995 through the cracking toolkit AOHell by Koceilah Rekouche 1995.
Worms are malware that self-replicates, especially when it has established contact within a computer enterprise. They target vulnerabilities within a network to multiply incessantly and spread their presence and influence.
The term “worm” seemingly evolved from the Creeper Worm, the first documented virus in the early 1970s. Written by Bob Thomas at BBN Technologies, the Creeper Worm infiltrated the ARPANET and copied itself within the system, all the while displaying the taunting message: “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!”
A botnet is a portmanteau that refers to both “robot” and “network.” It is a collective term for private computers suffering infestations from malware, making them vulnerable to remote access by cybercriminals without the organization’s knowledge.
This subtle control and mastery of victim networks are essential to the delivery of spam, execution of DDoS barrages, and data theft. Botnets are force multipliers that cybercriminals use to disrupt complex systems of target organizations.
Botnet architecture made significant strides to evade early detection. Its programs create disguises as clients that communicate with existing servers. Cybercriminals can then control these botnets remotely via peer-to-peer networks.
Cryptocurrency is all the craze nowadays. It requires the tactic of mining to generate more currency organically. Cybercriminals have been using phishing strategies to infect and hijack more slave computers that will do cryptocurrency mining.
Cryptojacking can cause slower computers because targets are unsuspecting that their resources are used to mine cryptocurrency.
Usual Targets of Security Threats
Espionage, monetary gain, and corporate sabotage are why cybercriminals employ deceptive means to destroy organizations. High-value targets often yield significant financial gains for the digital attackers, an important reason why they usually go for big targets:
- Countries – the sensitive information from their governments can cause destabilization and chaos
- Multinational corporations – own state-of-the-art or industry-leading intellectual property
- Critical infrastructure and government agencies
- Databases of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) are favorite targets of identity theft
FAIR: Threat Difficulty and Capability
The Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) is an approach to determine the impact that cybersecurity threats can cause. This is a form of risk measurement that will help organizations decide on how to combat security threats.
- Threat Difficulty. This metric is an influential gauge of how much defense a security threat must overcome to cause damage. Organizations must have a high Threat Difficulty score to make it hard for cybercriminals to get what they want. Training is essential to equip staff with more resistance against digital attacks.
- Threat Capability. Expressed in a percentile scale from 1 up to 100, Threat Capability measures the potency and skills of a potential security threat in causing problems and damage to an enterprise. By knowing the resources of the enemy, an organization can prepare a more robust cybersecurity shield.
Classifications of Loss Impact
Without a proper defense against cybersecurity threats, the damage that an organization can sustain may get out of hand. Organizations must put Cybercriminals in their place to avoid the following effects on a company.
- Legal Fines. An adverse security event will violate several laws, especially relating to data privacy. Most countries have strict rules that impose stiff penalties against these transgressions.
- Reputation. A successful data breach may undermine the confidence of clients in dealing with the victim organization. There will be a glaring impact on its good standing in its industry when it fails to protect critical data.
- Competitive advantage. Disruptions to operations will cause financial stakes and the loss of future opportunities to expand the company.
The Magnitude of Security Losses
If a cyber breach succeeds, the inevitable security losses will have varying effects on everyone involved in the organization. The broader the scope of the breach, the more grave the aftermath of an incident can be.
- Primary stakeholders. The owners and major decision-makers of an organization are the primary recipients of security losses. These incidents can have severe implications for the survivability of an organization. Many are unable to get back on their feet after a devastating cyber attack.
- Secondary stakeholders. Secondary stakeholders also experience the sting of a cybersecurity breach as part of the ecosystem of the target organization.
Expert Guidance for Cybersecurity Defense
RSI Security is always a step ahead of cybercriminals and their evolving methodologies. Our years of expertise and experience gave us the edge in addressing cybersecurity concerns. Partner with our firm and help strengthen your organization’s shield against different types of security threats.
We have an accomplished roster of personnel registered practitioners of CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification), a cybersecurity compliance stipulation for Department of Defense contractors.
Do not leave the safeguarding of critical corporate data to chance. Cybersecurity requires a plan, and we are the best at implementing a defense system to counter the latest security threats online.
Managed services and software-based automation are our main strengths in assisting organizations across all sizes, scales, and purposes.
We are the leading company in compliance and cybersecurity, dedicated to helping manage your risks to avoid significant losses. With RSI Security as your partner in cybersecurity, your organization can focus on more important business goals.
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