What Are The Biggest IT Security Threats To Your Business In 2021?

At the start of every year, businesses look at how they will innovate and evolve over the next 12 months. Even unethical industries such as cybercrime will change and adapt, which is why it’s so important that organisations update their security processes to protect against cyberattacks.

Due to the pandemic, the healthcare and education sector, councils, and critical national infrastructure are all major targets of future cyberattacks. As public organisations are stretched more than ever, there are weaknesses that could be exploited. However, if an organisation understands the potential threats they’re facing they can better protect themselves from an attack.

Cybersecurity Trends 2021 

Cybercriminal Marketplace Expansion

Cybercriminal marketplaces and dark web search engines are going to flourish as the insidious industry evolves in 2021. TOR browsers are free software that enables anonymous communication online and are needed to access darknet marketplaces. While some of the most popular online criminal marketplaces have been shut down, such as Dream and Silk Road 2.0, others are growing in popularity. One of the fastest growing dark web indexing services is Kilos.

This new dark web search engine helps users find sites that Google doesn’t. It works by searching various dark web marketplaces and sourcing the specified products while allowing users to remain anonymous. This has made it easier for nefarious characters to buy unethical products like stolen credentials, illicit goods, and software that allows people to hack into computer systems.

DDoS Attacks

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack targets network resources or websites to disrupt them either temporarily or indefinitely. DDoS attacks operate by generating fake traffic and sending it to the target to exceed its capacity and prevent it from functioning effectively. This traffic is created using hundreds of thousands of botnets from servers, which can lead to massive issues for a business.

DDoS attacks can potentially last for days blocking the victim’s online services to legitimate users. In 2021, this form of cyberattack will increase in complexity as threat actors develop their methods while becoming widely offered as a service. This means more and more cybercriminals will use DDoS attacks as a way of extorting money from their victims.

Increased Risk Posed By Threat Actors

A threat actor is someone aiming to disrupt the security of another person or entity. In terms of cybersecurity, these people will seek to exploit blind spots and weaknesses in an organisation’s technology for personal gain.

In March 2020, many organisations scrambled to set their staff up to be able to work remotely. This has meant that there were unethical opportunities for these threat actors to manipulate for their own gains. For example, connections between personal devices and home networks act as a bridge to corporate devices which were exploitable. Without the appropriate controls at router levels, home networks, and personal devices, a gap appears for threat actors to take advantage of.

Exploitation Of Global Events

Threat actors will always exploit global events for their own profits and gains. Social engineering attacks, such as highly organised phishing campaigns, will use real-world events to manipulate someone into granting them access to private networks. 

For example, a phishing attack could be an email that appears real that asks the receiver to click on a malicious link that appears safe. Once this link is clicked, the threat actor could gain access to private information and sensitive data.

Phishing attacks may also involve someone pretending to be a trusted contact or tricking an employee into downloading malware. This form of cyberattack accounts for 90% of data breaches faced by organisations across the globe. Due to the spread of disinformation that is unfortunately only increasing in 2021, social engineering attacks are going to spread.

The only reliable defence against them is education. Ensure staff understand the signs to look out for, implement processes, and highlight the dangers posed by social engineering attacks.

Double Extortion Model

The double extortion model involves the attacker using ransomware to encrypt data and requesting payment for its decryption. However, even if a fee is paid the threat actor will have exfiltrated data from the organisation. Once this has occurred a second ransom is requested to prevent the data from being released.

An example of an active threat is Egregor Ransomware. This is delivered by phishing emails and, once installed, manipulates firewall settings to give the attacker remote access via remote desktop protocol (RDP), which is then used to steal data.

Exploiting Cloud Services

Due to many organisations having to work remotely, cloud services have become more integrated in day to day operations. Organisations have formed trusted relationships with services such as Office 365, Zoom, and Google Cloud Platform. This has provided threat actors with opportunities to exploit through a combination of social engineering of exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities.

Zero-day vulnerability is a computer software weakness that is unknown to who would be affected. For example, software resellers without security protections are a target as threat actors can use them to gain access to valuable networks and data. There is also an opportunity to hack into organisations that the software resellers support.

Many organisations' new reliance on third party services, means that companies don’t only have to rely on their own cybersecurity but others they’re connected with too. No technology or service is completely safe from vulnerabilities. It’s important that when an organisation cannot directly protect itself, processes are put in place to mitigate the damage of a cyberattack.

Malware

In an unstable business climate, malware attacks pose more of a threat than ever. An attack can decimate a small business as they can damage devices and prevent a company from trading. In 2021, malware creators are going to continue impersonating legitimate applications to trick someone into downloading the software. Simply downloading a trustworthy looking file, could actually be downloading business ending software.

As threat actors become more sophisticated, malware will be harder to detect using tools such as sandboxes. It will also be harder to confirm if an infection has taken place. For example, Emotet malware steals information like contact lists and credentials. From here this information is used to create emails that appear authentic with the stolen content. Without the right security plan it could be months before an issue is even detected.

How To Protect Your Business In 2021?

Every business, even when operating in the same industry, is unique and has different cybersecurity requirements. To implement an effective strategy, it’s important to conduct an overall security assessment. At Bluecube, by communicating with our security team we can evaluate your organisation’s security risks to establish the best measures that will mitigate against the risk of cyberattacks.

We can help your staff to become certified and train them to be security aware so they can detect and respond to any incidents. To find out more, fill in an enquiry form on our contact page or visit our technology services page today.

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