Cybercrimes have been on the rise for several years, as more scammers target businesses and individuals – often causing extensive damage in the process.
Many cyber threats prey upon people’s ignorance of how the scams work, catching them off guard and posing as trustworthy third parties. It is crucial therefore that you develop a detailed understanding of what these threats are, to prevent yourself from falling victim to them.
While the specific details and tactics used by cybercriminals are constantly changing as they find new ways of duping people, the principles are largely consistent. Therefore, once you know what tell-tale signs to watch out for, you will find it far easier to avoid being hacked or scammed.
The types of cyber threats that you are most likely to face will depend upon who you are and how valuable your private details are. If you are the wealthy CEO of a large company, then the threats aimed at you are probably going to be more sophisticated than if you are a young entry-level employee or a pensioner.
These are the most common cybersecurity threats to be aware of:
Privilege Escalation modifies online identities
The most valuable commodity for cybercriminals is sensitive information – particularly if it is corporate data.
Many individuals and businesses put measures in place to minimize the chances of data theft from taking place, such as by using cloud storage to protect their data.
Cloud storage is an effective tool because it offers arguably the strongest protection of all data storage solutions. This is because the information is stored on multiple servers, meaning that there is only a tiny chance of your data ever being lost. It is also stored behind incredibly thick firewalls, making it all but impossible for hackers to break through and steal your data.
However, the one obvious flaw of cloud computing is that if you are running a business (or just sharing information with a friend or colleague), you still must grant access to the account to a third party.
You can set the permissions that a certain person has within your cloud account, but these settings can be modified by a hacker using privilege escalation.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why it is important to know about privilege escalation. The fact of the matter is that if you can’t find a way of storing your data safely, you will be leaving yourself (or your business) extremely vulnerable to a cyber-attack.
This could lead to the leaking of a client’s private details, a breach of your bank account, valuable information about your private life, or even sensitive images which you don’t want to be shared in the public domain.
To minimize the chances of this from happening, you should stay vigilant with whom you grant access to your account, whether their permissions have changed or deleting past users from your account. You could even integrate an IAM solution to further safeguard yourself.
Phishing scams trick you into giving over valuable information
One of the most prevalent cyber threats is a phishing scam. They are so common that you have likely come across one yourself in the past – although you may not have known it.
A phishing scam has an incredibly simple premise. A cybercriminal sends you a message (commonly an email) that appears to be from a reputable third party. They might pose as anyone from a family member, friend, colleague, your bank, an insurance company, or a government department (such as your local tax authorities).
There are two reasons why cyber criminals do this.
The first is that you are more likely to drop your guard and believe whatever the message says if you trust the person or organization they claim to be. If your friend asks for your bank details or the ‘bank’ itself requires you to log in to your account, then you are unlikely to be suspicious initially.
The second reason is that these trusted third parties are the most likely to provoke an emotional response in you, thereby clouding your judgment and rushing you into handing over your details.
Ransomware scams force you to hand over large sums of money or sensitive data
Ransomware scams often operate in a similar way to phishing scams, but instead of asking you to hand over private details, they ask you to download a malicious file.
This file will contain ransomware, which will locate data on your computer and restrict you from accessing it.
They will inevitably threaten to destroy it, steal it or share it online unless you pay them a hefty ransom. This form of cyber threat is often aimed at business employees who may have valuable files on their computers.
Insider threats can lead to internal security breaches
An insider threat is one of the most underrated cyber security threats for businesses because it is the one you would least expect. An insider threat is an employee, contractor, business partner, or anyone else who has access to private company information who either accidentally or purposefully triggers a data breach. There are many ways in which this can happen.
The employee could store sensitive information on a device that is subsequently stolen, for example, or suffer a phishing scam that takes over their account and causes significant damage to your company.
Alternatively, an insider threat could be an employee (or former employee), contractor, or business partner acting maliciously. If for whatever reason, they become disgruntled with your company then they could enact revenge by sharing data or destroying files from the inside out. They could also have been paid by a cyber scammer to do it on their behalf.
Naturally, this is a threat that any business owner could potentially face, so you need to take action to prevent an insider threat from happening.
Educate your staff on data protection best practices, help them to create strong passwords, restrict the number of people with access to cloud storage accounts, and upgrade your cybersecurity infrastructure.