May 17, 2023

Top Cybersecurity Challenges & Solutions (2024)

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Key takeaways:

  • Conducting a cybersecurity assessment allows businesses to address their specific cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 
  • Annual cybersecurity awareness training promotes a culture of cyber awareness and holds each employee accountable for their actions.

Identifying cybersecurity weaknesses by doing a cybersecurity assessment

Cyber criminals can attack a business in many ways, and what you think is protected by cybersecurity tools may not be as protected as you think. From a macro view, the entire business needs to be protected overall by firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems, and from a micro perspective, endpoint detection and responses (EDR) and antivirus software.

The best way to ensure a business is fully protected is to conduct a cybersecurity assessment by following an established standard like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework.

The NIST framework addresses five pillars:

  • Identity
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond 
  • Recover

The framework covers three main categories. The first category is the five pillars, the five high-level functions.  The two other main areas are the categories with 23 items and subcategories with 108 items. Other cybersecurity standards included in the NIST framework are ISO 27001, COBIT, NIST SP 800-53, and many different cybersecurity standards. Using the NIST framework comprehensively addresses every aspect of cybersecurity that ensures your business is fully protected.

What are the most prevalent cybersecurity threats that can damage a business?

Every cybersecurity threat can do damage if it’s successful, but the threats in this section are the most prevalent cybersecurity threats that are successful by cyber criminals. 

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are widespread because of social engineering practices cyber criminals use to target business employees. These cyber-attacks account for $12 billion in business losses. Phishing attack emails have a link in an email that users click on and are taken to a cyber criminal’s controlled website that delivers malware or intercepts a user’s credentials.

How can I prevent phishing attacks?

There are several ways to combat phishing attacks. First, a comprehensive security awareness training plan for all employees is required annually for re-training. Curiosity is a topic that must be addressed during the training sessions as it’s the reason many employees click on a link from an unknown user.

An email security gate (SEG) is installed in line with the public internet that connects to a business’s email server and checks emails for malicious content. Suspicious emails are denied from reaching the company email server. In addition,  multi-factor authentication (MFA) plays an essential role in mitigating the risk of phishing by being an extra layer in the authentication process because the cyber criminal will not be able to access your account without the second piece of information used in the MFA process. 

Malware Attacks

Malware attacks have multiple ways to damage a business. Malware comes in various forms that can be viruses, worms, spyware, adware, or a trojan horse, which are all designed to cause damage to a business’s digital resources. Additionally, malware can attack any device connected to a network, such as tablets, mobile devices, servers, printers, and computers.

Malware attacks can destroy data, steal data, cause hardware failures, and allow unauthorized access to a business network and computer resources. In addition, malware attacks can cause enough damage to disrupt daily business operations by slowing down computers and continually redirecting an employee’s computer to malicious websites, making the computer more vulnerable to more malware attacks.

How can I prevent malware attacks?

Malware attacks can be prevented using Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) security software that examines files and processes for suspicious activity. Endpoint Detection and Response security software detects, blocks, and remediates threats in a business network. Endpoint security software also includes antivirus and antimalware protection software. Keeping software updated and using non-administrator accounts for typical use should be cyber security practices to help prevent malware attacks.

In addition, employees can do the following to help eliminate malware attacks:

  • Do not click on links or download anything from unknown users.
  • Do not download software from pop-up windows that may randomly show up.
  • When prompted to update the system or antivirus software, do so immediately, and if you are unsure what to update, check with the cybersecurity staff.

Ransomware

Unfortunately, ransomware is one of the more popular methods cyber criminals use to attack businesses due to the potential financial gain criminals may receive. Ransomware holds business data hostage until a company pays the dollar amount a cyber criminal is requesting. Failure to pay a ransom request could have dire consequences for an organization if its data is destroyed. Healthcare organizations are one of the cybercriminals’ favorite targets for ransomware attacks since medical records and scheduled appointments can be life-and-death decisions for healthcare management if the ransom is not paid.

How can I prevent ransomware attacks?

Using Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) security software on all endpoint devices will prevent your business data from being encrypted. In addition, some endpoint security software has a ransomware rollback feature like SentinelOne. Implementing an effective cloud backup solution if a ransomware attack occurs prevents a business from paying a ransom, keeps your business up and running, and improves cyber resilience.

Weak Passwords

Weak passwords make a business extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Employees using weak passwords on cloud-based services leaves an open portal that a cyber criminal can easily exploit. In addition, companies that use cloud-based services often have saved sensitive proprietary data and financial information, which should be privy to the management staff only. 

How can I prevent weak passwords?

Besides the annual comprehensive security awareness training companies can use to discourage weak passwords, companies can also use a Business Password Management application. The password management application manages fully encrypted passwords stored in a password vault. Combining the password manager with the MFA process will deny cyber criminal attempts.

Insider Threats

Insider threats can be hard to detect and prevent. Current employees, former employees, company contractors, or associates with the appropriate rights have the potential to commit an insider threat act. Employees with nefarious intentions who access critical data can significantly damage a business. Even benign acts of ignorance and carelessness can substantially damage a business just as much as intended acts of greed or malice.

How can I prevent insider passwords?

A security awareness training plan that covers this topic in great detail will help prevent this cybercrime. In addition, fostering a company environment of security awareness will help employees identify other employees’ behavior by specific indicators in their actions that can help minimize a threat to compromise business data.

Cloud Vulnerabilities

Remote work is not going away anytime soon, and companies that want to continue offering this option to employees need to ensure cyber criminals do not exploit cloud vulnerabilities. Account hijacking, misconfigured cloud settings, and insecure Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are opportunities cyber criminals look to exploit. Whether businesses are using cloud computing services or strictly providing onsite networking services, companies are still challenged with data breaches and unauthorized access more than a company with on-premises services only. The exploitation surface for cyber criminals has widened due to using cloud computing services, and companies need to address this exploitable surface specifically

How can I prevent cloud vulnerabilities?

There are specialized tools available that can check cloud storage security settings to prevent misconfigured settings. Some Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors specialize in checking for cloud leaks and misconfigured settings. UpGuard is one of the vendors that provide these types of services. Additionally, transmitted data should use SSL/TLS encryption and MFA to enhance a business’s security measures and posture.

Why are cybersecurity threats so rampant in 2023?

Globally, an $8 trillion cost will be associated with cybercrimes committed by the end of 2023. While financial gain is a prime motivator for continued cyber-attacks in 2023, cyber criminals are also motivated by the advances made in artificial intelligence (AI) technology just as much as businesses are interested in improving business processes and preventing cyber-attacks using AI. Between companies and cyber criminals, it’s an AI cyber arms race to prevent cyber-attacks for businesses or to exploit the AI technology by cyber criminals for nefarious monetary gains.

Securing the digital frontier

The ubiquity of these risks makes cybersecurity a paramount concern for all businesses, irrespective of their size or industry. A thorough application of the NIST cybersecurity framework, regular cybersecurity assessments, and consistent employee training are crucial steps in creating a secure digital environment. Businesses need to prioritize prevention methods like Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) software, robust password management, and cloud security checks to combat phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks. As the digital frontier expands, so does the exploitable surface for cybercriminals, underscoring the significance of adaptive and comprehensive cybersecurity strategies. The financial and reputation costs of cyberattacks necessitate cybersecurity is no longer an optional add-on, but an integral part of every business strategy.

Check out our top cybersecurity training software guide here

FAQs

Why is cybersecurity important?

Cybersecurity is important enough to be included in every business’s mission statement with clearly outlined objectives. The consequences of not having a defined cybersecurity plan to protect a business’s proprietary information and customer data can lead to a significant breach or a ransomware attack making business data unavailable. Cybersecurity is important enough to conduct training annually.

What are the major threats in cybersecurity?

The major threats in cybersecurity include phishing, where attackers trick users into revealing sensitive information; malware, harmful software that can damage or infiltrate systems; ransomware, which encrypts data until a ransom is paid; weak passwords, which can be easily cracked by attackers; insider threats from employees or contractors; and cloud vulnerabilities, exposing data stored or processed in cloud services.

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