In the wake of the pandemic, many people now work remotely either on a permanent or hybrid basis. As such, there has been a marked increase in security risks as companies struggle to maintain a consistent infrastructure. Cyber-criminal activity is also on the rise, with an increase in targets and attack vectors plus also in skill and ingenuity. Today then, as we near the turn of the year, we look at cyber security threats 2023.
A change in the workplace dynamic
Following on from the pandemic, around one-third of the global workforce was forecasted to switch to a remote set-up. Companies now find themselves implementing hybrid contracts for employees. Whilst this has opened up the scope for recruitment, it has also placed greater stress on protecting confidential information. Gone are the days where the entire workforce operates from the same location. There is a much larger emphasis on technology now, a trend that was already in motion as a result of digital transformation. As IoT opened up the playing field for cyber-attackers and hackers, so too has WFH – how many of your employees have a truly secure home network?
It is no coincidence that there has been a proliferation in successful data breaches between 2019 and 2022. A plethora of organisations have suffered financial and reputational damages in that time, with the list continuing to grow. In October 2022 alone, IT Governance reported that almost 10 million records were breached across the globe. This included Amazon, whose Prime members’ viewing habits were completely exposed.
Both organisations and individuals are wondering how they can protect themselves. Here we look at some common cyber security threats to watch out for and the measures you can take.
Undoubtedly one of 2022’s biggest threats to cyber security has been ransomware. Attackers infect a network and then lock down data and systems until a ransom is paid to them. Ransomware can lead to financial losses, data loss and can also damage productivity levels. These attacks are growing and this trend is set to continue into 2023. Unfortunately, less experienced hackers can now execute them, whereas historically only sophisticated hackers were able to carry out successful attacks. Nowadays, it is even possible to purchase ready-made kits known as “Ransomware-as-a-Service”. What can you do to prevent ransomware attacks?
- Promote the importance of cyber security at every level within your organisation
- Develop comprehensive cyber security plans and prepare for potential incidents
- Prevent malware from being delivered
It is important to have regular training in place for all employees – more on that further below. Every member of your organisation should have a good level of cyber awareness in general, and more specifically on ransomware. Your plans should include preventative measures such as never using unknown USB sticks and never disclosing personal information. There are several steps to take to prevent malware delivery, including:
- Mail and spam filtering
- Implementing internet security gateways
- Actively using safe browsing lists in web browsers
Another important step you can take is to make regular back-ups of important files. Create offline back-ups and store them in a different location – off-site is ideal.
Inadequate employee training within organisations
The vast majority of data breaches come from within. In fact, Verizon’s 2022 Data Breaches Investigations Report revealed that 82% of data breaches involved a human element. Social Attacks, errors and misuse were to blame and this can be directly attributed to a lack of security training. Perhaps a key example of this is with phishing emails, a very common type of cyber-attack in 2022. Teaching people how to spot or avoid phishing schemes is crucial today – here then are a few tips to consider:
- Check the sender
- Look out for spelling errors
- Be wary of suspicious links or attachments
Phishing emails are often sent via public email domains such as Google. It is fair to say that no legitimate organisation will send an email ending in ‘@gmail.com’. Errors in grammar and spelling are also tell-tale signs of a potential scam. It could be in the domain name or in the main body of the email but either way, you should exercise caution. You should also take care not to click on links or open attachments if you are unsure whether or not they are genuine. The former may link through to bogus websites, whilst infected attachments can contain malware.
It is important to note that phishing attacks can also be carried out using other formats. Scammers will often send text messages, make phone calls or target people via social media posts.
Every organisation uses these, be it for payment processing, secure file-sharing or a host of other activities. Whilst third-party services are highly beneficial, they also generate vulnerabilities. If they fall foul of a data breach, for example, your business can be affected. It is unlikely that you will be absolved of personal liability in this scenario, too. The best strategies therefore incorporate regular risk assessments of all third-party partnerships. You should also ensure that agreements with external vendors include them having robust IT security processes in place.
Cyber security threats 2023
Cyber security threats 2023 is a brief look at some of the key threats to be aware of over the next 12 months. Ideally, you will already have security protocols in place to deal with these threats and others. If you would like to find out more, contact our experts and they’ll be ready to help.