6 Ways to Protect Against Today’s Top Cyber Threats

Oct 27, 2021

Today’s cyber threats are becoming more dangerous as hackers continue to raise the stakes with existing and emerging threats. Part of this growing risk is driven by organizations increasing their attack surface, which the “bad guys” see as more opportunities for their malicious activities. From careless or spiteful employees and hacktivists to cybercriminals and rogue governments, the bad guys aren’t going away.

To protect your environment from exposure to cyber threats you must secure your environment with the right mix of expertise, processes, protocols, technologies, and tools. After combing through various studies and reports, we created our own list of the top cybersecurity threats of the year. Take a look, and then discover six ways to protect your organization from those cyber threats.

The top cybersecurity threats of 2021

Between 2020 and 2021, analysts reported an increase in the following cyber threats:

  • Crypto mining: As the value of cryptocurrencies has increased, so has the rate of crypto mining. Once hackers gain access to a system, they install malware to mine a cryptocurrency coin, like bitcoin. While rates of threats dipped mid-2020, they’ve since been on the increase.
  • Deepfakes: Digitally altering audio and video recordings—most often of famous people and politicians—is on the rise. These threats spread false information and can be used fraudulently to verify an identity or create financial transactions.
  • Insider threats: In a recent report, 70 percent of companies indicated more frequent insider attacks. Another study found roughly 66 percent are caused by negligence, with 55 percent of organizations identifying the greatest threat as mistakes by privileged users.
  • Malware and ransomware: The rates of malicious software, or malware—particularly ransomware—have increased 151 percent in the first half of 2021 and continue to rise. Smaller businesses are especially at risk of a hacker gaining access to and encrypting the data on their servers and demanding a ransom to unlock it.
  • Phishing: In 2021, 3 billion phishing messages are sent worldwide each day. And they aren’t slowing down. Both email phishing and SMS phishing, called smishing, are the most common types of cyber threats because of the human and technology connection.
  • Trojan horses: In January 2020, two trojan horses—Ursnif/Gozi and IcedID—collaboratively delivered ransomware and ended up comprising 82 percent of trojans. When trojan horses prove successful for one target, hackers evolve them for greater attack success on other targets.
  • Zero-day attacks: At least 66 zero-day threats have been found in 2021, almost double the amount from 2020. These attacks exploit vulnerabilities in software, hardware, or firmware by deploying malware.

To protect yourself from these top threats, you need a comprehensive security strategy in place.

6 ways to protect against today’s cyber threats

To strengthen your security posture in an effective and proactive way, use the following solutions as they apply to your organization’s needs.

1. Risk assessment

A cyber security risk assessment is a service in which a cybersecurity team helps your organization understand internal and third-party cyber risks. This team evaluates the business impact of potential risks and threats. It also develops plans and processes to manage, mitigate, and prevent them. Adhering to established industry frameworks, the team creates a remediation roadmap that outlines vulnerabilities, risk, and corresponding mitigation steps.

Choose a risk assessment service that leverages broad industry expertise, conducts accurate assessments, and works with you to develop meaningful controls.

2. Compliance review

A compliance review is an informal audit to determine whether an organization is following compliance requirements. These reviews ensure your organization implements the required processes and controls to satisfy industry regulations, including NYDFS, GDPR, PCI DSS, and HIPAA.

Select a compliance review service that has expertise on the compliance requirements you need to meet and helps create a holistic and effective security program. By staying current with compliance reviews, you mitigate the threat of legal actions that could cost millions of dollars.

3. Spear phishing simulation and training

Spear phishing simulation is based on sending employees fake phishing emails based on real-life attempts that organizations face. Through hands-on practice and increased awareness, employees become more knowledgeable about phishing and know how to respond to these threats.

Find a spear phishing simulation and training solution that raises employee awareness about the attacks your company is most at risk for. Choose one that can create custom spear phishing attacks to demonstrate your employees’ vulnerabilities and provide follow-up training based on simulation findings.

4. Managed detection and response

Managed detection and response (MDR) combines information from various sources in your environment, including endpoints, networks, and cloud services, with technology and human expertise to monitor, detect, and respond to security threats. Often called a threat hunting service, MDR offers continuous monitoring, alerts, and detection for known and zero-day threats and contains incidents before they spread.

Select an MDR provider that relies on security information and event management (SIEM) and advanced analytics to power endpoint and network detection and response. Also, look for one that uses AI and machine-learning-backed MDR tools and technology to uncover anomalies and expose potential threats that are specific to your users and their activities.

5. Vulnerability management

Instead of looking at risks and threats, vulnerability management focuses on the weak spots across an organization and its IT systems that could open them up to harm. It recognizes new vulnerabilities and shortens the window of exploitation.

Look for a service whose cybersecurity experts dig deep into your systems and networks to uncover weaknesses and perform ongoing scans to stay ahead of looming threats. Ideally, the service should also provide a customized, easy-to-follow report with details about the vulnerabilities that were detected and provide remediation guidance.

6. Penetration testing

Commonly referred to as a pen test, penetration testing involves simulation of cyberattacks on a computer system or network to evaluate the effectiveness of current information security and data controls. It identifies risks that aren’t found by automated scanners, determines the impact of a potential breach, and improves the overall cybersecurity resilience of your environment.

Choose a provider that incorporates automated and manual techniques to maximize the ability to uncover vulnerabilities in your environment. Manual testing enables the cybersecurity team to uncover more security vulnerabilities than automated tools can and reveals more advanced threats.

Take the next step in threat protection

When you consider the top cyber and emerging threats companies face today, plus the rate they’re increasing, you can’t afford to be without a holistic cybersecurity solution. Choose one or any combination of the approaches presented in this post that best corresponds to your environment’s security needs.

If you don’t know where to start, count on the cybersecurity experts at CyZen to steer you in the right direction. Their portfolio features offensive and defensive security services, as well as compliance and advisory services, to help you chart a unique roadmap to strengthen your security posture. Trust CyZen to take your organization to the next step in threat protection.

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