What is cyber security? 5 cyber threats you should know about

When dealing with critical data such as personal details or important assets like money or valuables, security is a fundamental aspect that one needs to consider. Unlike previous days when organizations implemented physical methods of storing data, the world today has digitized. Now, all critical information is stored using computers, databases and networks. They are far safer and easier to maintain. However, as technology grows smarter, so do hackers and their ways of attacking data systems.

Cyber security remains a popular topic of discussion. Every day, companies develop new software systems to help keep data safe and secure. This article seeks to discuss cyber security and some of the most rampant threats that have emerged in the last few years.

What is cyber security?

Before going into threats, it is crucial to be aware of cybersecurity principles. Essentially, cyber security is the practice of keeping your devices safe from malicious attacks. Many large corporations and organizations such as banks and hospitals invest millions into their cyber security systems. The term can be divided into a few branches, such as application security, network security and end-user education.

Why is it essential to have a good security system?

As technology continues to evolve, so do hackers and their ways of breaking into systems. As a result, cyber threats continue to rise at a fast rate. A report by RiskBased security reveals that as a result of data breaches, a whopping 7.9 billion records were hacked in 2019 alone, 112% higher than in 2018.

Therefore, it is essential to keep systems safe with the latest advancements and hire individuals who understand data protection methods. It can be helpful to employ those who have pursued a Master’s in cyber security. Those interested in acquiring cyber security skills can even opt for an online M.S. in cybersecurity program. The program deals with all the required computing skills to protect systems from being vulnerable to attackers. Investing in a good security system is vital. Failure to do so can result in the leaking of sensitive data, potentially leading to many disasters.

Types of Cyber-threats

Here are some of the most recent cyber security threats that have evolved in the past few years.

  1. Attacks on Cloud Services

Thanks to Covid-19, most people had to adapt to online means of working or schooling. This increased the demand for cloud services. There were over millions of people paying for a subscription in 2020 alone, and many businesses, too, adopted cloud storage as a means of storing user data. With more people entering the world of cloud storage, there was also a notable rise in cloud breaches.

While Cloud services are indeed efficient, light on the pocket and used by many corporations, they still are a prime target for many hackers. There are many reasons for this, including people not practicing data safety measures such as keeping strong passwords or changing them regularly. To this day, cloud systems are reported as one of the most unsafe systems for data storage.

  1. Recent Phishing Scams

Phishing refers to the act of trying to steal data using emails, text messages or online messages. The attacker implants a link or some form of malware that the user unknowingly clicks. This plants the malware into the user’s device which then proceeds to steal critical data like passwords or credit card numbers.

While phishing is no new trick in the book, phishing tactics have indeed evolved drastically. There are Covid-19 related phishing scams where phishers mask their tactics under emails or articles related to Covid-19 information or vaccination. A popular way of data breaching is pretending to pose as a pharmaceutical company inviting people for a vaccination. Once the user clicks the link and enters their data, phishers gain access and steal important information.

  1. Multi-Factor Authentication scams 

Multi-factor authentication is when you’re required to add in an additional code (sent on another device) after you’ve already entered your password. It’s a common form of protection adopted by many social networking sites, online banking and medical applications. While it is a good way to keep data secure, sending codes on a mobile phone can pose a cyber threat.

Text messages may not be end-to-end encrypted, making it easy for hackers to obtain the code. Additionally, phone networks add to this risk as they tend to be very easy to hack. Hackers can easily intercept your OTP (one-time-password). To avoid this, you may use other means of MFA such as Google or Microsoft authenticator.

  1. AI-enhanced Cyber-threats

Artificial intelligence is becoming widespread in many firms and companies. Undoubtedly, this technology serves as a “miracle” in replacing human intervention and eradicating its disadvantages. However,  it also allows data stealers to hack data more easily.

Cybercriminals can easily manipulate programs that intend to improve the efficiency of AI. Hackers can use this to create malicious software, which they can use to attack the AI and its security system.

  1. Deepfake

Deepfake refers to creating a fake video or audio using AI to deliver fake news or use it for illicit purposes. Criminals can now use graphics and audio recordings to generate a video that never really exists. Hence, every person should be cautious when uploading pictures on social media platforms.

While this is less of a problem for commoners, it can pose a huge threat to those working in the entertainment and political industry. These fake videos can be used to steal data, spread misinformation, and disrupt business operations. In some cases, it can even give rise to political unrest.

Final Thoughts

In this day and age of digitization, cybercriminals are constantly coming up with ways to steal public data. They develop strategies that cause severe damage to people’s reputations and organizations. For this reason, businesses should be wary of their security systems instead of just focusing on sales and revenue. While technological advancements have made life easier for us, both personally and professionally, they have increased cyber threats simultaneously. Businesses, in particular, should employ intelligent individuals skilled and qualified in handling these cyber threats.

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