As the volume of cyber attacks escalates, cybersecurity is on the radar of most companies. Yet despite all the attention to this problem, cybersecurity risks continue to mount.; each year seems to break records regarding the number of cyber attacks on companies, governments, and individuals.

As more organizations have shifted to a remote workforce, the migration of workloads from traditional networks is accelerating, expanding the potential cyber attack surface. At the same time, cyber attackers have become increasingly sophisticated, adjusting their methods as enterprises become more adept at detecting and responding to attacks.

Many cybercriminals now embrace advanced techniques that make their activities difficult to detect, use automation to increase their success, and focus their attacks on business’ highest-value targets. And as the payback increases, cybercrime is expected to cost the world $10.5 trillion a year by 2025.

Six cybersecurity risks

As cybercriminals have devised numerous ways to compromise the enterprise, here are six cybersecurity risks any organization might face:

  1. Ransomware: Ransomware is a form of malware in which the attacker encrypts an organization’s files and then demands a ransom payment to restore access to the data. This type of cybersecurity attack has been rising exponentially and ransomware attacks are frequently covered in the media, leading to reputation damage for many of the victimized companies. 
  2. Phishing: Phishing scams are situations in which an attacker sends a person an email pretending to be from a legitimate individual or organization to trick the person into divulging confidential information, downloading malware, paying a fake invoice, or taking some other action that benefits the attacker. Phishing attacks account for 80% or more of all reported security incidents. And, unfortunately, phishing emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated as attackers find ways to make them look like legitimate emails from trusted co-workers, suppliers, and partners.
  3. Credential stuffing: With credential stuffing, attackers obtain usernames and passwords leaked during data breaches to attempt logins at popular websites and services. Because the success rates are low, hackers typically use automation to “stuff” the website with numerous credentials until they find one that works.

    Once attackers find a winning username and password combination, they use the credentials to make fraudulent e-commerce purchases or access credit card information, Social Security Numbers, and other sensitive data. Credential stuffing relies on the fact that most people reuse the same password across multiple accounts—and these attacks are both common and costly. Businesses lose an average of $6 million per year to this form of cyber attack.
  4. DDoS attacks: In a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, the hacker tries to shut down a company’s systems by flooding its network or servers with Internet traffic to overwhelm it with requests for access. While this is one of the more rudimentary types of cyber attacks, it can be highly disruptive, taking down a company’s website and other digital services for days or even weeks. DDoS attacks have been made against companies across a wide range of industries including financial services, healthcare, communications, technology, and manufacturing.
  5. Supply chain attacks: These attacks attempt to compromise one organization in order to reach other companies within the same supply chain. By compromising the email account of a vendor, for example, cybercriminals can convince the larger company to pay a fake invoice or transfer future invoices to a fraudulent bank account. Or, by finding a way to compromise all the companies an organization supplies, hackers can disrupt the entire supply chain. By 2025, 45% of organizations will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains.
  6. Deep fakes: Deep fakes are images, audio, and videos that use artificial intelligence to create fake events. While deep fakes are often in the media because they are used to spread misinformation, they can also be utilized to commit cyber attacks. For example, a cybercriminal might call a financial executive, use AI-based software to mimic the boss’ voice by phone, and convince the executive to transfer funds into a fraudulent account.

    This type of cyber attack is expected to increase over the coming years as deep fakes become more sophisticated and more difficult to detect. AI is also used in cybersecurity to fight these attacks.

Defending against cyber attacks

Defending the enterprise from cyber attacks is an ongoing effort that requires continual vigilance. Best practices for preparing the organization include:

  • Evaluate the company’s attack surface and resilience to threats to determine where controls are needed the most.
  • Take a centralized cybersecurity approach to ensure visibility across the entire organization.
  • Ensure the enterprise’s cybersecurity posture includes methods for predicting and preventing cyber attacks as well as ways to detect and respond to an attack should one occur.
  • Enforce strong password policies that include frequent password changes and the use of complex passwords.
  • Adopt multi-factor authentication to create multiple layers of password protection that combat the use of stolen credentials.  
  • Implement privileged access management (PAM) tools to ensure privileged accounts are only accessible to the correct identities.
  • Use reliable phishing and spam filters for the enterprise’s email accounts.
  • Provide mandatory cyber awareness training to all employees.
  • Reduce vulnerability by ensuring all operating systems, security software, applications, and tools are up to date.
  • Develop a response plan that includes backing up IT systems and data to prevent a disruption in operations in the event of a cyber attack.
  • Keep track of evolving risks and continually improve the enterprise’s cybersecurity response as new threats emerge.

Reducing the enterprise’s vulnerability

For today’s organizations, it’s not a matter of “if” a cyber attack will occur, but “when.” As companies strengthen their protection measures, cybercriminals continue to adapt their strategies, and new threats emerge all the time. While businesses can’t eliminate these threats altogether, with a strong cybersecurity posture and constant attention to evolving threats, they can reduce their vulnerability, sending cybercriminals elsewhere for an easier win.

With SailPoint Identity Security, you can transform manual processes to automated, shift your security approach from technology-centric to people-centric, and evolve static policies to be self-learning and adaptive.

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