The global cyber threat has increased rapidly over the past few years. In particular, data breach incidents increased during 2020, and organisations are taking notice.
With devices and businesses networked 24/7, the risks to both customers and organisations have risen phenomenally. Companies and government departments are boosting their cyber defences with cyber security measures. Security breaches and cyber incidents occur when least expected and cause irreparable damage within seconds. It is an ongoing threat that requires continuous, real-time comprehensive cyber security strategy. Only specialised executives who have navigated a Cyber Security Course can work as cyber security professionals and secure systems from external threats.
As the demand for dedicated cyber security professionals increases, candidates are undertaking programmes in cyber security for expert knowledge and good placements.
Let us explore what cyber security is and why it is relevant in 2021?
What is cyber security?
Cyber security is the domain that applies technologies, techniques, tools and controls to protect critical systems, computers, servers, mobile devices, and networks from digital attacks. It aims to safeguard data and sensitive information from malicious misuse of technologies, systems and networks. The practice of cyber security also protects devices, systems, and applications from unauthorised access and damage or being made inaccessible to the user. Cyber security measures help to avert digital threats and monitor systems for risk management of cyber incidents.
What are the 5 Biggest Cyber Security Threats of 2021?
Small businesses, large enterprises, universities, eCommerce businesses and government departments are all vulnerable to cyber security threats. In particular, those organisations that handle confidential information or hold data of a large consumer base are the targets of cybercriminals.
Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and automated, allowing simultaneous attacks on thousands of businesses. However, there are some common types of security threats every organization faces.
The biggest cyber security threats are listed below:
Phishing occurs when an attacker uses methods like emails and malicious links to steal data, login credentials, and credit card details, or click on a link or attachment to gain access to personal information. The four types of phishing are spear phishing, whaling, vishing, and email phishing. According to recent research, 75% of organizations around the world experienced a phishing attack in 2020. Phishing is the threat type considered most likely to cause a data breach. The biggest category of phishing, according to APWG, is targeted at webmail and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) users and is responsible for 34.7% of phishing attempts.
Companies, big and small, can be victims of phishing attacks. For instance, Twitter became the victim of a spear-phishing attack through phones of its staff and netted more than $100k to the scammers.
It includes a range of security threats such as Trojans, viruses, spyware, adware, and potentially unwanted applications. These are malicious codes that scammers and hackers use to gain unauthorized access to systems, servers, and networks to destroy the data on computers or steal information. The source of malware attacks is unsecure downloads from malicious websites and software, email attachments, or other infected devices in the network.
Every day more than 450,000 new malware are registered globally. Malware attacks have become more sophisticated with machine learning. While more than 92% of malware is transmitted by email, mobile malware has risen drastically, with third-party app stores reported to host 99.9% of identified mobile malware.
Malware attacks can render devices inoperable, often requiring extensive repairs or replacements to fix the viruses or permanent loss of data.
3. DDoS attacks
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are cyber-attacks that act simultaneously on multiple connected online devices or botnets. Cybercriminals flood a network with malicious traffic so that the website ceases to operate or normal traffic/communication halts. In the first half of 2020, there were 4.83 million DDoS attacks attempted costing businesses an average of $100k for each hour of service disruption.
This type of cyber attack has emerged as one of the most alarming security threats, especially in the last couple of years. It is the most lucrative attack as businesses can be blackmailed into paying a ransom after their data is encrypted to prevent its use or access. Companies are left with little choice but to pay the ransom money, usually huge sums, or stand the risk of losing data or having their services stopped.
In 2020 alone, 1,112 ransomware attacks occurred, but the numbers have more than doubled since then. According to the 2021 Global Threat Landscape Report,
ransomware threats grew by 1070% between July 2020 and June of 2021.
5. Weak passwords
With businesses increasingly using the cloud for their needs, including multiple cloud-based services with many accounts, using weak or easy-to-guess passwords have emerged as another threat. Automated applications have enabled sophistication in password generation techniques, and cybercriminals are using newer software to gain access to sensitive information on the cloud.
Why is cyber security important and why should you consider it as a career?
Data over the past years have shown that the costs of cyber security breaches are rising. Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, posing a challenge for ongoing security and damage control. Besides compromise in the security of the personally identifiable information of users, business information is also leaked. Data breaches cause damage to the reputation of the business. With cybercrime emerging in a big way, leaked data is sold on the dark web for monetary gains. Business information is sold to competitors or used to blackmail organisations restricting their access to systems.
Mitigating the risks of cyber security can be a challenge for any organization. It is more so in environments of remote working and BYOD (bring your own devices) culture.
Cyber attacks can potentially cost organizations billions of dollars by way of blackmails, loss of sensitive data, damage to brand value, and penalties. It becomes cost-effective to have an ongoing risk management system in place with sophisticated cyber security measures.
Why consider cyber security as a career?
Today, systems are more connected to the cloud and the Internet than ever before. With businesses operating in cyberspace, cyber security has become critical for every modern organization. Learning about the various cyber threats and acquiring the technical skills to safeguard critical infrastructure has become the need of the hour. It presents tremendous growth potential as a career.
The responsibility of handling cyber security is no longer a part of IT tasks. It is a standalone field with various specialized sub-domains. As network connectivity grows and devices connected in IoT networks increase, there is more dependence on data and the systems that store, transmit, and analyze it. Job opportunities are thus projected to grow, together with specialities within the discipline of cyber security.
Moreover, this is a field that cannot be outsourced. Companies require full-time on-site professionals to tackle the cyber threats of organizations. So it makes a great career choice for students and mid-career professionals who want to learn something exciting in IT security.