Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting critical systems and sensitive information from digital attacks. Also known as information technology (IT) security, cybersecurity measures are designed to combat threats against networked systems and applications, whether those threats originate from inside or outside of an organization.
In 2020, the average cost of a data breach was USD 3.86 million globally, and USD 8.64 million in the United States. These costs include the expenses of discovering and responding to the breach, the cost of downtime and lost revenue, and the long-term reputational damage to a business and its brand. Cybercriminals target customers’ personally identifiable information (PII) — names, addresses, national identification numbers (e.g., Social Security number in the US, fiscal codes in Italy), and credit card information — and then sell these records in underground digital marketplaces. Compromised PII often leads to a loss of customer trust, the imposition of regulatory fines, and even legal action.
Security system complexity, created by disparate technologies and a lack of in-house expertise, can amplify these costs. But organizations with a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, governed by best practices and automated using advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, can fight cyberthreats more effectively and reduce the lifecycle and impact of breaches when they occur.
Although cybersecurity professionals work hard to close security gaps, attackers are always looking for new ways to escape IT notice, evade defense measures, and exploit emerging weaknesses. The latest cybersecurity threats are putting a new spin on “known” threats, taking advantage of work-from-home environments, remote access tools, and new cloud services. These evolving threats include:
The term “malware” refers to malicious software variants—such as worms, viruses, Trojans, and spyware—that provide unauthorized access or cause damage to a computer. Malware attacks are increasingly “fileless” and designed to get around familiar detection methods, such as antivirus tools, that scan for malicious file attachments.
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks down files, data or systems, and threatens to erase or destroy the data – or make private or sensitive data to the public – unless a ransom is paid to the cybercriminals who launched the attack. Recent ransomware attacks have targeted state and local governments, which are easier to breach than organizations and under pressure to pay ransoms in order to restore applications and web sites on which citizens rely.
Phishing is a form of social engineering that tricks users into providing their own PII or sensitive information. In phishing scams, emails or text messages appear to be from a legitimate company asking for sensitive information, such as credit card data or login information. The FBI has noted about a surge in pandemic-related phishing, tied to the growth of remote work.
Current or former employees, business partners, contractors, or anyone who has had access to systems or networks in the past can be considered an insider threat if they abuse their access permissions. Insider threats can be invisible to traditional security solutions like firewalls and intrusion detection systems, which focus on external threats.
A DDoS attack attempts to crash a server, website or network by overloading it with traffic, usually from multiple coordinated systems. DDoS attacks overwhelm enterprise networks via the simple network management protocol (SNMP), used for modems, printers, switches, routers, and servers.
In an APT, an intruder or group of intruders infiltrate a system and remain undetected for an extended period. The intruder leaves networks and systems intact so that the intruder can spy on business activity and steal sensitive data while avoiding the activation of defensive countermeasures. The recent Solar Winds breach of United States government systems is an example of an APT.
Man-in-the-middle is an eavesdropping attack, where a cybercriminal intercepts and relays messages between two parties in order to steal data. For example, on an unsecure Wi-Fi network, an attacker can intercept data being passed between guest’s device and the network.