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7 of the Scariest Cyber Threats We Saw This Year

  • New York Nerds
  • January 10, 2019
  • 0 Comments

cyber threats

Hackers can disrupt the day-to-day workings of your business. Some cyber threats can lead to such a level of data loss that your company is forced to fold.

To protect yourself, you should be aware of developing threats in the world of computer security. Here are 7 of the biggest threats of 2018.

1. Hactivists

In the last year, we’ve seen an increase in the number of “hacktivist” threats.

But what exactly is a hacktivist? A hacktivist is someone or a group of people that uses hacking as a political tool. For instance, they may attempt to discredit a political opponent by uncovering compromising material about them.

Hacktivists can be more difficult to deal with than other threats because they’re motivated by ideology rather than by a desire for money. While some hackers might demand a ransom be paid, hacktivists often don’t even have any specific demands.

While this kind of activism has been around since the early days of the internet, society is now becoming a lot more accepting of it. Hacktivism is starting to be considered a legitimate form of political activism.

Be Careful

There are steps you can take against falling victim to these kinds of cyber threats.

Firstly, you should avoid posting any material online that could be used as leverage against you. In some cases, this can be difficult, as you might’ve uploaded that content many years ago.

If you know there is compromising material about you online and you can’t do anything to remove it, you should consider avoiding being a part of any kind of political movement.

2. Botnets as a Service

Botnets are nothing new. For years, these networks have caused problems across the internet, including things like delivering ransomware or doing DDOS attacks.

What we’re seeing now, however, is botnets being “rented out” for a fee. In the past, the person who created a botnet was usually the person who put it to use.

We’re now seeing people creating botnets with the intent of renting them out to the highest bidder. This opens up the ability to utilize botnets to a new demographic. People who do not have the technical ability to set up a botnet themselves can simply rent one from someone who does.

3. Cyber Warfare

Cyber warfare between nation states has become a hot issue in the last year. It seems that with every major world event, countries start accusing one another of conducting cyber warfare.

For example, Russia’s been accused of conducting cyber espionage programs that influenced the Brexit vote. They’ve even been accused of meddling in American elections!

It’s one thing for your company to be targeted by a small group of hackers, but being targeted by a nation state is something else altogether. Compared to small-time hackers in it for personal gain, those carrying out cyber warfare have a huge government budget behind them.

4. Sophisticated Malware

In the past, malware was the realm of hobbyists. Most malware developers were either acting alone or working in small groups.

Often, they weren’t even motivated by profits. A lot of the time, these developers just wanted to see how much chaos they were capable of causing.

While these people still exist, malware development has become sophisticated. Today, there are teams and companies who exist solely to develop and sell malware programs. These programs are then sold to the highest bidder.

With people now managing to run a whole company based on nothing but selling malware, it becomes harder to protect your company against threats.

5. Connecting More Devices to the Internet

Connecting things like your fridge or your HVAC system to the internet offers some exciting possibilities. For example, you could turn your heating on 20 minutes before you get home so you have the optimal temperature as soon as you walk through the door.

Unfortunately, this kind of connectivity is also a very exciting prospect for hackers. These smart devices mean that hackers will be able to do so much more than just mess up your computer. They could crank up the heat and send your heating bill sky high, or they could turn off your fridge and let all of your food spoil.

If it connects to the internet, a hacker could probably take control of it.

6. Cyber Threats like Ransomware

In the last year, ransomware has become increasingly popular. There are still many people out there who don’t run any sort of backup system. As long as that keeps happening, ransomware will continue to be popular.

Basically, ransomware locks down all of your files and threatens to permanently delete them if you do not pay a ransom. Often, you’re instructed to send a certain number of Bitcoins to a certain Bitcoin address. Sometimes, people pay the ransom and their files don’t even get unlocked, meaning they paid for nothing.

Thankfully, this kind of attack is easy to defend against. You just have to run a good backup system. The threats of ransomware are worthless if you have a decent backup system in place.

7. Social Engineering

The simple hacks are often the most effective. Some of the most successful “hacks” don’t even involve breaking into a system.

Successful attackers are often able to trick people into handing over their passwords. For example, a hacker might pose as a system administrator at your company and email you a link to change your password because of a security threat.

Many people will do this without even thinking about it. Of course, the page was a cleverly designed fake and you’ve just given your current password to a malicious actor.

These kind of hacks are so effective because they bypass any security systems your company might have in place. You could spend thousands on security software and still be hacked by simple but clever social engineering.

For this reason, it’s recommended you make sure your employees are trained in good security practices and that they know how to recognize phishing attempts.

Educate Your Employees

Despite some scary new developments in cyber threats, the tried and tested methods of hacking like phishing and Trojan horses are still among the best. Many companies spend a lot of money on firewalls and antivirus programs, but their employees are the weak link.

You need to make sure your employees are trained in recognizing security threats. Your employees should report suspicious activity and every lead should be investigated. The majority of these tip offs will be false positives, but every now and then, you’ll uncover a genuine security threat.

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