Whether you are a student, a professional, or just someone who enjoys surfing the internet, cyber-attacks are a genuine problem that is becoming increasingly common. A recent survey revealed that nearly half of the respondents said a cyber attack had hit them. Furthermore, almost everyone agrees that the reason for these attacks is simple: hackers want your money.
Despite relatively slow growth in the number of cyber attacks, the escalating threat of ransomware is a significant concern for many organizations. More than half of midmarket companies experienced a security breach in 2018.
While most companies can prevent malware by updating their operating system and software, many are still unprepared for ransomware attacks. Hackers lock up the plans and files of these organizations and threaten to release the information unless the victim pays them a fee.
Throughout the past decade, the emergence of ransomware as a separate category of malware has caused wake-up calls for many organizations. For example, in 2016, cyber attacks statistics show a high-profile attack disrupted the operations of the world’s largest meat processor, JBS Foods. In addition, cybersecurity expert Gregory A. Garrett has written an article on the topic.
In the past year, 80% of critical infrastructure organizations reported experiencing a ransomware attack. This number has grown in recent years, with at least 45 police and sheriff’s offices having been targeted.
A report by a leading cybersecurity firm found that global ransomware damage costs will reach $20 billion by 2021. In addition, the study predicted that businesses would suffer a ransomware attack every 11 seconds.
During the past year, cryptojacking has become an increasingly common cyberattack. This type of malware works by taking advantage of the computing power of victims’ devices and using it to mine cryptocurrencies.
The attacks can go undetected for months. However, they can affect the victim in many ways. Some of these include poor performance, high electricity bills, shorter device life, and even damage to the device.
When the victim visits a site with embedded cryptojacking code, the malicious software activates automatically to eat up the computer’s resources. As a result, the CPU can overheat, leading to system failure.
The code is usually hidden in ads or website plugins. It is also possible to install a browser extension to block the software. It is essential to keep up with security updates and ensure that the latest web browsers and operating systems are installed.
If you suspect your device has been infected with cryptojacking, check the activity monitor in Windows to see how much CPU is used. You can also open the Task Manager and look for spikes in CPU usage.
Increasingly, cyber-attacks are affecting organizations, large and small. Some of the more infamous have even been known to target individuals. These attacks are not limited to business websites; they can also be found in the wild on smartphones, wearables, and other Internet of Things devices.
The big question is, are we ready for the inevitable? What are the best practices for preventing such an attack from occurring? One of the easiest ways to compromise your system is via phishing emails, which lure users with a fake message and a tempting offer. Using a phishing email, a crook can pounce on unsuspecting victims and steal their credentials at a stroke.
The same applies to the dark web, where cybercriminals can purchase exploit kits, malware, and other nefarious items. Aside from the myriad phishing sites on the dark web, a savvy attacker can use botnets, which are automated collections of internet-connected devices. These networks can spy on users, amplify other activities, and perform distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
Targeted personal information
Among the most common ways cybercriminals try to get a piece of your pie is through targeted personal information. Often, it’s stolen and used to sell on the dark web, purchase things, or monetize. It can also be used for espionage or blackmail.
One of the most popular tactics for delivering malware is phishing emails. These can trick users into opening a link and downloading a malicious payload. This can be anything from a trojan to ransomware, threatening to delete your data permanently unless you pay a ransom. Unfortunately, these attacks are becoming more popular, especially for small businesses.
Another method is through malicious scripts that scrape personal information from browsers. Usually, these messages come from a banking site or online order form. In addition, hackers have posed as security professionals, posing as bank or company representatives to gain access to sensitive data.
Other tactics include social media profile hijacking, using a fake website to lure unsuspecting users and a rogue site that asks for personal information in exchange for benefits.
Targeted political systems
Whether nation-states conduct them, hackers or cyber criminals, cyber attacks on targeted political systems are a growing threat. Unlike traditional warfare, cyberspace offers an advantage for nation-states because of its low costs and the covert nature of cyber operations.
Russia and China present the most significant cyber threats to the U.S. and are likely to continue targeting our elections in the future. Their motivation to use cyberspace is driven by strategic advantages and the low costs associated with conducting multilayered attacks over a prolonged period of time.
Misinformation has been intentionally used to amplify voter confusion and destabilize the democratic process. For example, Iranian social media propaganda was used during multi-racial protest marches and in support of Black Lives Matter. Iran also emails Americans amidst civil unrest to amplify concerns about voter fraud. In addition, the dark web is where cybercriminals purchase exploits kits, malware, and cyberattack services.
A new Rapid Response Election Security Cyber Unit will be formed to monitor sites for misinformation related to elections. In addition, the Heritage Foundation has developed legislative policy proposals to combat this threat.