The 4 Cyber Security Threats to Look Out For in 2021 and How to Combat Them

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    Cybercrime is an ever-present threat for businesses, but it has become particularly problematic over the last year or so. With more and more people working from home entirely or operating on a hybrid model, it’s easier than ever for cybercriminals to gain access to digital systems.

    In 2020, malware increased by 358%, ransomware attacks increased by 435%, and many new cybersecurity risks emerged.1 To deal with the growing threat of cybercrime, it’s important to take steps to protect your business systems and data.

    In this article, we’ll cover the top four cybersecurity threats to look out for in 2021 and provide some actionable tips to help you combat them.

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    Threat #1: Ransomware

    Ransomware refers to malware attacks in which the cybercriminals demand a payment in order to remove the malicious software and return the site to the rightful owner. Ransom can play a part in a range of malware attacks, but there are some intrusion methods in particular that are popular with ransomware criminals. These include:

      • Unsecured remote desktop protocol (RDP).
      • Endpoints.
      • Corporate VPN appliances.
      • Email phishing scams.

    For businesses, ransomware attacks can be extremely damaging and stressful to resolve — not only damaging from a reputational or operational point of view but also financially — there are countless ways ransomware attacks can impact your bottom line too. They can lead to a range of issues such as site downtime, business operation interruptions, and loss of productivity.

    At the more serious end of the spectrum, ransomware breaches can also lead to data loss, liability and compliance issues, and a loss of customer confidence in your business. Also, you may be left with no alternative but to pay the ransom payments to secure your site, and this can be expensive and should be avoided at all costs.

    How can you combat it?

    Preparedness is key when it comes to ransomware. Businesses should aim to develop an airtight internal and external communication strategy. This can help to ensure that people interacting with your business are unable to access entry points into your site through communication channels.

    It’s also good practice to stay up to date with the latest patches on your applications and operating systems. Patches are used to fix security issues that have been highlighted by the company managing the software you’re using. If you choose not to update, you’re leaving yourself open to security risks that can easily be avoided.

    In addition to the above, we also recommend making regular systemized backups and disaster recovery plans. This can help you protect your business in the event of a ransomware attack, as you can restore your site to a previous version to help re-secure the site.

    Threat #2: Using current affairs as bait

    This type of threat is often referred to as phishing. Phishing scams utilize current affairs or trends to convince people to provide details or access to the site without their knowledge.

    In March 2020, phishing scams related to covid-19 rose by 667%, and international current events like these make it even easier for criminals to bait individuals into providing their secure details.2

    Juvenile phishing scams often target individuals in an attempt to steal their banking details, however, more sophisticated scams can be extremely convincing and can cause a serious threat to even the most experienced IT teams.

    How can you combat it?

    Phishing scams can sometimes be difficult to guard against, as there is no software solution that can protect you fully. However, there are things you can do to prepare your team for this inevitable threat.

    The first thing you can do is introduce healthy skepticism training into your employee development plans. Healthy skepticism arms employees with a keen eye that can be used to fish out scammers, before they get phished. Conducting healthy skepticism training at regular intervals can also keep employees up to date on the latest phishing trends so that they aren’t caught out by new methods and schemes.

    To help this training to set in, you can also run regular tests exercises. All you have to do is present your employees with fake phishing scams to see how they deal with them. This will ensure that employees are always on their guard, and will highlight any individuals that need extra support.

    Pro tip: The cybersecurity vendor Arctic Wolf offers a ‘Concierge Team’ alongside their security solutions and products. This team works 24 hours a day to resolve their clients’ issues in real-time. What’s more, they offer training to your team so that you’re best placed to proactively and reactively fight cybercrime.

    On the tech side of things, you can also implement some processes to help phishing scams from making their way to your employees. Some methods you may want to try include:

      • Enabling spam and virus filters.
      • Carrying out file type analysis regularly.
      • Setting up sandboxing.
      • Making use of URL inspection.
      • Performance and reporting.

    By implementing all of these methods in conjunction, you can reduce the threat of current affairs baiting scams substantially.

     

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    Threat #3: Supply chain attacks

    Supply chain attacks are particularly dangerous for large businesses with wide networks. By installing malware into a trusted application or system. By doing so, the cybercriminals gain entry into the systems of the whole supply chain. They can carry out targeted attacks on individual companies within the chain, or widespread attacks that can potentially put hundreds of other businesses, and thousands of related customers at risk.

    One of the most prolific supply chain attacks took place in 2020 and began with a company named Solarigate.3 Threat actors breached an IT monitoring product used by the company via the backdoor. Once they’d entered the system, they carried out targeted attacks on a selection of organizations within the network. The breach took months to secure and affected around 18,000 customers.

    Supply chain attacks can be extremely problematic for businesses, and it’s important to do what you can to protect your business, your customers, and your business network from this type of threat.

    How can you combat it?

    The only way to truly defend against supply chain attacks is to ensure that your threat detection processes are airtight. Assess your detection software and pain points within your systems. It’s a good idea to do what you can to strengthen areas that could be an entry point for cybercriminals.

    Threat #4: Social engineering

    Social engineering is also a prominent threat in 2021 and beyond. In this day and age, cybercriminals often have to go to extreme lengths to trick people into installing malware, but that doesn’t stop them. Many threat actors are using multiple platforms to build relationships with victims before they progress to the scam stage.

    When it comes to social engineering, the latest trends include using social media platforms such as LinkedIn to build trust with victims under false pretenses. Threat actors acting as recruiters use LinkedIn, Facebook, and a range of other platforms to create a detailed persona that even the savviest web users may be convinced by. Once the trust is built, the scammers share files with their victims that contain malware of all varieties.

    Social engineering can be tricky for businesses, as it can be hard to identify it before the hackers have already gained access to your systems.

    How can you combat it?

    Due to the personal nature of social engineering scams, the best line of security for businesses is education. Educating your staff to be hyper-aware of the intricate details of social engineering scams, and how they work can help prevent them altogether. Aside from ensuring that your security systems are up-to-date, the only thing you can do is improve your people-focused training so that every member of your team is prepared.

    Solutions such as Arctic Wolf can help prepare businesses for threats like these. Not only does it manage and tackle cyber-security issues on a technical front, but it provides in-depth employee awareness training so that your business is protected on all fronts.

    You need to partner with a cybersecurity vendor

    As you can see, cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and therefore, it’s important for businesses to do the same. Regular updates, proper training, and advanced security systems can help you to protect against the security threats mentioned above, and other threats that may occur. Many cybersecurity solutions will include features that can help with the issues listed above such as:

        • Threat detection
        • Staff cybersecurity training support
        • Updates and malware scanning
        • And more.

    However, every business is different, which is why custom cybersecurity systems are always beneficial. If you’re in search of a custom cybersecurity solution, we’re here for you. Nexstor is well known for its unparalleled capacity to devise cybersecurity solutions for a selection of world-class vendors including Arctic Wolf and more. Nexstor can audit your business processes and help you prepare for modern security threats like ransomware, current affairs phishing scams, supply chain attacks, and social engineering.

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    1. Alarming Cybersecurity Statistics for 2021 and the Future
    2. COVID cybercrime: 10 disturbing statistics to keep you awake tonight
    3. Analyzing Solorigate, the compromised DLL file that started a sophisticated cyberattack, and how Microsoft Defender helps protect customers

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    Troy Platts

    Troy has spent over 20 years helping organisations solve their data, storage and compute conundrums. He is a regular speaker at vendor events and spends any free time he has keeping abreast of advances in data platform technologies. He also makes a mean curry.

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