Cyberattacks are on the rise. These impact everyone in the world today. Whether you own a business or access the internet from home, you should know that these attacks show no sign of slowing down. Instead, the attack vectors are growing more sophisticated. Attackers are using more advanced and complex technology to find their targets, infect devices, and gain access to your data. This is evidenced by one of this year’s largest global ransomware attacks, WannaCry.
This cyberattack was a success because it had a low detection rate. Attackers were able to exploit a vulnerability in the Windows system that let the attack spread laterally within networks, infecting hundreds of computers. This was due to a leaked NSA exploit called EternalBlue that quickly spread the malware and infected a lot of computers.
The Evolution of Cyberattacks
Since 2017 cyberattacks have been evolving. There have been a lot of new cyberattacks hitting the malware market. Not only did WannaCry reach an “unprecedented level,” but there was the (not)Petya outbreak, the historical Equifax data breach, and the CCleaner incident. All of these were difficult to anticipate and yet they managed to cause a lot of damage.
Cyberattacks seem to be happening more frequently than in the past and still, they’re able to cause a lot of damage. Everyone suffers from these large-scale attacks – from losing valuable data to disrupting businesses. While everyone is vulnerable, everyone is also learning how to be more resilient to these attacks by taking cybersecurity more seriously.
According to Heimdal Security, there’s been a significant increase in ransomware invasions this year. These have cause data leakage and great financial loss for lots of people and businesses. This is one of the dominant players in the threat landscape, affecting important sectors like hospitals, banks, universities, the government, law firms, and mobile users.
The financial consequences of these cyberattacks are also quite dire and continue to increase as well. Recently the Ponemon Institute and Accenture conducted a “Cost of CyberCrime” study that showed the cost of cybercrime is now 23% more than last year – costing organizations about $11.7 million.
Inside the Mind of Cybercriminals
Cybercriminals are quite skilled and tech-savvy. They also know how to operate efficiently. As such, they can now reach into our private lives, our homes, and our businesses. Unfortunately, most of the time, there’s nothing we can do about it. However, by understanding how they operate you can learn to protect yourself better.
Most cybercriminals are intelligent and creative. They enjoy taking risks and are labeled “geeks” because they have a keen interest in computer science. They also have good social and communications skills they use to manipulate their victims. Sometimes they work by themselves but there are also times when they work as a group.
Regardless of their personal characteristics, cybercriminals know how to take advantage of our devices’ vulnerability. They exploit flaws in their software to spread malware in ways that are difficult to anticipate and challenging to stop. While this is nothing new, what’s new is that there are new workarounds that help cybercriminals avoid well-known security tactics. Some examples of their level of ingenuity include the fact that cyberattackers are now:
- Leveraging vulnerabilities that affect widely used types of software
- Changing what type of malware they deliver during a cyberattack
- Changing ransomware extensions so that it takes longer to notice the strain on the resources that are being attacked
- Using auto-updating elements to automate new payload delivery
- Being more creative so it’s harder to recognize spoofing
- Targeting widespread vulnerabilities through much scarier proof of concept attacks
- Leaking everyone’s data
- Using spambots that are much better than any of the ones invented or used in the past
- Creating sophisticated supply-chain attacks that have much deeper geopolitical implications
Protection Guide Against Malware Threats
Considering how we’re now dealing with modern cybercriminals who are much more sophisticated than any whom we’ve ever dealt with before, it’s time for everyone to learn all they can about software patching. As a business owner, it’s important to provide each of our employees with as much information as we can about cybersecurity threats. Even home users need this education today. In fact, it’s up to all of us to proactively change our behaviors in a way that will enhance our security online.
We must all admit that the online landscape is no longer safe. With this thought in the forefront of our minds, securing our valuable data should become a top priority. There are some useful ways to maximize your protection against these attacks. They include:
Make sure all your software is up-to-date. As soon as a new update is released you should install it. This will add multiple layers of security that will decrease your chances of being infected with malware.
Use a password manager program to create strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts. This makes it harder for you to be hacked and if one account is hacked, it makes sure that not every account is vulnerable.
Always have at least two backups for your data – an external hard drive and one in the cloud.
Keep your software and infrastructure up-to-date because cybercriminals look for outdated software and infrastructure when launching new attacks. It’s up to you to close any potential holes in your cybersecurity. To enhance your protection here, you should always use an antivirus program along with a proactive cybersecurity software solution.
Make sure you don’t have an “it can’t happen to me” mindset to one that focuses on educating yourself about cybercrime so you can stay safe online. Having at least a minimal amount of cybersecurity knowledge is essential for everyone today. This is the only way you can easily discern the good from the bad so you’re safer online.
Learning from cybercriminals’ malicious actions will give you the best defense against their tactics. As such, we need to continually investigate what makes cybercriminals tick so we always act in a proactive way in a timely fashion.