A Weekend in Incident Response #35: The Most Common Cyber security Threats Today

Companies across different industries around the globe, along with government institutions, cite cyber attacks as one of the biggest security threats to their existence. As a matter of fact, in a recent Forbes survey of over 700 companies from 79 countries, 88 percent of respondents said that they are “extremely concerned” or “concerned” by the risk of getting attacked by hackers.

This fact is a clear indication that organizations have to ramp up efforts for enhancing their cyber resilience, but to do that successfully and in the most effective manner, they need to have a clear understanding of where the biggest cyber threats come from nowadays so that they can shape their cyber defenses accordingly. We take a look at the most common cybersecurity threats today, ranging from internal threats, cyber criminals looking for financial gains, and nation states.

Internal Threats

When talking about cyber security, some of the first things that usually come to mind are freelance hackers and state-sponsored attacks between hostile nations. But, many cyber security incidents actually come from within organizations, or to be more specific, from their own employees.

Pretty much all experts agree that employees are some of the weakest links in the cyber defense of every organization, in part due to low cyber security awareness, and sometimes due to criminal intent.

Employees often put their companies at risk of getting hacked without meaning to, by opening phishing emails or sharing confidential files through insecure channels, which is why organizations should make sure their staff knows the basics of cyber security and how to avoid the common cyber scams and protect data.

Connected Devices

With so many devices connected to the Internet nowadays, including video cameras, smart phones, tablets, sensors, POS terminals, medical devices, printers, scanners, among others, organizations are at an increased risk of falling victim of a data breach. The Internet of Things is a real and ever-increasing cyber threat to businesses and institutions, deteriorating their vulnerability to cyber attacks by adding more endpoints that hackers can use to gain access to networks, and by making it easier for hackers to spread malicious software throughout networks at a faster rate.

The Internet of Things is one of the factors that make DDoS attacks more possible and more easily conducted, and these types of attacks can have a significant and long-lasting impact on organizations, both in terms of financial losses and reputation damage.

Nation-State Attacks

Private entities and government institutions that are part of the critical infrastructure in their countries are under a constant threat of different types of attacks by hostile nations. As the number of channels and methods that stand at the disposal of hackers aiming to gain access to computer networks grows, organizations in the public and private sector are facing a growing risk of cyber attacks sponsored by nation-states that might have an interest in damaging the critical infrastructure of other countries, hurting their economies, obtaining top-secret information, or getting the upper hand in diplomatic disputes.

Most commonly, nation-state-sponsored cyber attacks use malware, such as ransomware and spyware, to access computer networks of organizations, as a means of gaining control over certain aspects of the critical infrastructure of another country.

No matter what types of attacks are common today, the number and level of sophistication of cyber threats to organizations are certainly going to grow in the future, which is why they have to constantly update and adjust their cyber defenses accordingly.

A Weekend in Incident Response #6: Improving Digital Skills of Police Forces Should Be a Top Priority for Governments

With cyber-crime on the rise globally, it’s clear that law enforcement agencies around the world need to raise their level of cyber-security preparedness so that they can respond to this growing threat accordingly. But, it seems that improving their own digital skills has turned out to be a tough challenge for some police forces.

A recent report by England-based Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) shows that the police officers in England and Wales are having trouble coping with the increased amount and complexity of cases involving cyber-crime.

Digital Forensic Capabilities Must Be Improved

The report finds that several police forces in England and Wales show a severe lack of digital skills that are needed to solve modern crimes. Specifically, investigators have proven to be insufficiently prepared to gather and process digital evidence, which is one of the crucial aspects of cyber crimes.

Another challenge that is underscored in the report is the fact that police forces are having difficulties understanding how different IT systems work, and how they can retrieve and share data between different systems.

Automated Case Management is One of the Solutions

Considering the significant gap in digital skills among police officers that the report notes, it’s clear that law enforcement agencies could use a tool that can help them overcome these challenges.

There are solutions that can be employed to make investigations into cyber incidents more efficient and help alleviate the problem of not being able to retrieve and process digital evidence properly. There are platforms that can track digital evidence and entire investigative processes automatically, helping to accelerate the investigation into a cyber incident.

A platform that is capable of gathering and managing information during cyber forensics processes, can make police forces much more efficient and prepare them for the challenges that are an inseparable part of modern crimes.

In order to be able to solve cyber crimes, police forces need to employ platforms that provide integrated support for cyber forensic tools, in addition to an integrated knowledge base access, as solutions that can help offset investigators’ lack of digital skills.