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The Main Cyber Risks Threatening Organizations in 2022

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The technological world has been taken by storm by an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks extending to all industries in the past years following the spread of the pandemic in 2020. This growth in hacking activity is notably fueled by the vast transition to digital operations by businesses to keep operating despite COVID-19, either through the adoption of remote work or the implementation of new digital systems.

In an effort to capitalize on these recent technological changes, hackers have adapted and evolved their approach, involving more of the human factor. As a result, companies must now consider many cybersecurity risks that have grown significantly during this time.

The following article presents the main risks against which organizations will need to protect themselves in 2022.

Phishing

Phishing has become increasingly targeted and convincing in the past years. These social engineering attacks attempt to replicate a trusted source in order to persuade the recipient to provide sensitive information, either the password used for their corporate accounts or technical details that allow the attacker to further infiltrate. In some cases, they also try to convince the user to download an attachment containing malware that deploys on the device and exploits security vulnerabilities to gain further access into the company’s systems. Phishing is responsible for some of the largest cybersecurity incidents in history and the risk it poses is only increasing.

The goal of a phishing attack is to infiltrate a company’s critical systems by obtaining a target administrator’s login information or by exploiting technical vulnerabilities to ultimately launch attacks at a higher level. This approach has recently allowed hackers to steal a significant amount of money from several Swiss universities by convincing its employees to provide personal information.

Lately, hackers have taken this attack a step further by infiltrating email systems to intercept and divert sensitive communications in what we now call a “Business Email Compromise (BEC)” attack. BEC has recently allowed hackers to divert nearly $2 million from an American university by snooping on company emails and pretending to be a contractor. The most effective measure against phishing is to conduct frequent awareness testing (known as phishing tests), allowing companies to measure their employee’s awareness and offer adapted training.

Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are among the most devastating cyber threats, especially when combined with phishing. In fact, nearly 90% of phishing emails contain a ransomware in attachment. A weapon of choice for hackers during the pandemic, ransomware attacks increased by over 148% between 2020 and 2022. This type of threat is especially destructive, as it attempts to spread to as many devices as possible to block access and demand a ransom. Beyond the ransom that is demanded, hackers are now trying to put pressure on their victims by threatening to resell their customers’ data on the Dark web.

The most effective measure to protect against ransomware attacks is through a ransomware readiness audit, which simulates a real infection in order to fix vulnerabilities that would allow the malware to spread and encrypt systems successfully.

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Malware

Not to be confused with ransomware attacks, this threat represents a larger category of software used by hackers to exploit enterprise technologies. With the recent digital transition and the implementation of a new set of security measures, hackers have adjusted their aim by developing a type of malware capable of running “fileless”. This new approach allows attackers to exploit a device’s memory by providing a few lines of code to interpret rather than a full malicious file, allowing them to bypass antivirus defenses and further infiltrate the infrastructure.

On the other hand, the advent of “Malware as a Service”, a service that allows anyone to hire hackers to launch a malware attack, has generated a considerable increase in incidents caused by them.

The most effective defense against malware is to perform an enterprise cybersecurity audit, as it will highlight the various opportunities for software to spy, infiltrate, spread, exfiltrate data and more.

Credential Stuffing

Recently, consumers have turned to web-based platforms to conduct the majority of their daily transactions. In fact, the majority of financial institutions have reported a dramatic increase in banking transactions conducted through their web and mobile applications.

In order to take advantage of this, hackers have turned to the Dark Web to acquire previously leaked passwords and launch credential stuffing attacks. This type of attack involves using a known password of a target user to attempt to log into various online platforms, such as banking sites. Considering that 65% of users reuse their passwords for all their online accounts, this threat is particularly dangerous and effective.

In order to protect their users from credential stuffing, organizations need to provide the ability to configure multi-factor authentication and establish a set of security policies that require the user to prove their identity when different risk factors are met. For example, when the user logs in from a different IP address than previous logins, they should be asked to confirm their identity.

Protect Your Organizations From Cyber Threats

For any information regarding the measures you should deploy to protect yourself from hackers, the Vumetric team is at your disposal to answer your questions. Do not hesitate to contact our experts to learn more about the best practices that protect your company from emerging threats.

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