What Are the Most Important Types of Cyberthreats?
As our lives increasingly move online, the risk of cyberattacks increases. While we often hear about large-scale hacks, there are many different types of cyberthreats that can harm individuals, businesses, and even governments. Understanding these threats and how to protect yourself from them is essential to staying safe online. This blog post will explore the five most important types of cyberthreats, their sources, and how to mitigate them.
What Is a Cyberthreat?
A cyberthreat is a malicious attempt to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to electronic data. Cyberthreats can come from various sources, including individuals, groups, or nation-states. These threats can take many forms, such as viruses and malware, phishing scams, and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.
Cybersecurity is a growing concern for businesses and individuals alike as the reliance on technology increases (Whittle, 2022). Cyberattacks can seriously impact an organization, causing financial loss, reputational damage, and even legal repercussions.
Types of Cyberthreats
Cyberthreats come in many forms, but some of the most important ones target critical infrastructures. These include attacks on energy grids, water systems, and transportation networks.
Below are some of the most common types of cyberthreats:
1. Viruses and Malware
Viruses and malware are malicious software that can cause damage to your computer or device. Viruses can spread quickly and easily, infecting other computers or devices on the same network. Malware is designed to damage or disable a system and can include viruses, Trojans, and spyware.
2. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams target victims by tricking them into revealing sensitive information. Typically, they pretend to be someone trustworthy, such as a banking representative or the victim’s relative. These attacks can be hard to spot, especially because they’re often carried out via email or text message.
3. Denial of Service Attacks
A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is an attempt to make a computer or network unavailable to its users. These attacks are carried out by flooding a system with requests or disrupting the connection between the user and the system.
4. SQL Injection Attacks
SQL injection attacks are a code injection in which an attacker inserts malicious SQL code into a database to gain access to sensitive data. These attacks can be challenging to detect and can result in the theft of sensitive information.
5. Wireless Network Attacks
Wireless network attacks are a type of security exploit in which an attacker gains access to a wireless network. These attacks can be used to eavesdrop on communications or to inject malicious code into devices connected to the network.
Sources of Cyberthreats
Cyberattacks can come from various sources, including individuals, groups, or nation-states (IBM, 2022). Cybercriminals frequently target businesses like financial institutions and hospitals, which have significant consequences for the company and its employees.
Below are some of the most common sources of cyberthreats:
Hackers are individuals who use their skills to gain unauthorized access to computer systems or networks. Hackers can be motivated by various factors, including profit, political activism, or challenge.
Cybercriminals are individuals or groups who engage in criminal activity using computers and the internet. Cyberattackers often seek to profit from their activities and may engage in activities such as identity theft, fraud, or selling illegal goods and services.
Nation-states are a growing source of cyberthreats, as they increasingly use cyber weapons to gain an advantage over their rivals. These nation-states often have access to sophisticated tools and resources and can use them to carry out large-scale attacks.
Insiders are individuals who have legitimate access to an organization’s systems and networks. Because they already have access to sensitive information and know how information is stored and organized, insiders are one of the most dangerous sources on this list.
5. Malicious Software
Malicious software, or malware, is a type of software designed to damage or disable a system. Malware can include viruses, Trojans, and spyware. Malware can be used to carry out a variety of attacks, including data theft and identity theft.
How to Protect Against Cyberthreats
Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, and there is no single silver bullet solution to cybersecurity. The most important thing you can do is to stay informed about the latest cyberthreats and to implement cybersecurity best practices within your organization. There are several steps you can take to prevent cyberthreats, including:
1. Keep Your Software Up to Date
One of the best ways to protect your computer from cyberthreats is to ensure that your software is up to date. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems (Palmer, 2022). By keeping your software updated, you’ll ensure that you have the latest security updates and system patches.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Another important step to protect your computer from cyberthreats is to use strong passwords. Cybercriminals often attempt to gain access to systems by guessing or brute-forcing weak passwords. By using strong passwords, you can make it more difficult for cybercriminals to access your system.
3. Enroll in a Cyberthreat Intelligence Program
A cyberthreat intelligence program can help you stay updated on the latest security threats and grow your knowledge of cyberthreats. This gained knowledge will help you better understand the potential risks you face.
4. Implement Threat Modeling
Cyberthreat modeling is identifying, analyzing, and quantifying risks posed by cyberthreats. It is a key component of any cyberthreat intelligence program and helps organizations to understand their digital risks better and take steps to mitigate them.
Threat modeling helps organizations to:
- Understand the cyberthreat landscape
- Identify potential vulnerabilities in their systems and networks
- Quantify the risks posed by those vulnerabilities
- Develop and implement cyberthreat mitigation strategies
5. Educate Your Employees
One of the best ways to prevent cyberthreats is to educate your employees on cybersecurity. Employees should be trained on identifying threats and what to do if they encounter one (Volyntseva, 2022). In other words, a well-educated workforce is a key defense against digital attacks.
For example, employees who understand the dangers of clicking on unknown links or opening attachments from unknown senders are much less likely to fall victim to a phishing attempt. By extension, they are also less likely to install malware that could accidentally bring down your entire network.
Everyone knows that cybersecurity is important, but generally, IT professionals only know to what extent that’s true. By educating all of your employees on cybersecurity best practices, you can help prevent serious online threats to your organization.
How the C|TIA Can Help Mitigate Cyberthreats
The Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst (C|TIA) program from EC-Council is designed to help organizations mitigate cyberthreats. It provides cyberthreat intelligence, analysis, and mitigation training. The program also gives students access to a network of cyberthreat experts who can provide guidance and support. The C|TIA certification is designed to help analysts understand, analyze, and respond to cyberthreats. Organizations enrolling in the C|TIA program benefit from increased visibility into the latest threats. Learn more about C|TIA today.
Volyntseva, Y. (2022, July 29). Ten tips to improve cyber security awareness amongst your employees. Business Tech Weekly. https://www.businesstechweekly.com/hr-and-recruitment/cyber-security-awareness/
Whittle, M. (2022, August 18). What is cybersecurity and why does it matter? Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/education/what-is-cyber-security/
IBM (2022). What is a cyberattack? https://www.ibm.com/topics/cyber-attack
Palmer, D. (2022, March 4). These old security vulnerabilities are creating new opportunities for hackers. ZDNet. https://www.zdnet.com/article/these-old-security-vulnerabilities-are-creating-new-opportunities-for-hackers/
About the Author
Shelby Vankirk is a freelance technical writer and content consultant with over seven years of experience in the publishing industry, specializing in blogging, SEO copywriting, technical writing, and proofreading.