4 Common Types of Cyber Security Threats & Vulnerabilities
As the world becomes more digitally interconnected daily, the cybersecurity danger also grows.
As a result, your online security is vital to your continued success, whether you're a business owner or an individual. Threats to data security are rampant, so you must take a proactive approach to keep yourself safe. But what are the types of cyber security threats that can compromise your information or finances?
Let's take a closer look.
What is a threat in cyber security?
Cybercriminals use cyber threats to apply various methods to access sensitive data from your computer systems - credit cards, personal or medical records, and proprietary or confidential information. Those data breaches can cause irreparable financial and reputational damage to you and your business.
No industry across the globe is immune.
Cyber threat categories for information security range from:
- Downloaded or installed malicious software
- Code that infects programs
- Holding your data hostage until you release payment to the threat actors.
- Unprotected public wi-fi access points (such as Verizon or T-Mobile public hotspots)
- Trojans (e.g., code or software disguised to look legitimate but used to infiltrate networks)
What are the types of cyber security threats?
Different types of cyber security threats present challenges to your business, and it helps to be aware of them to anticipate, intercept and guard against them.
Some common types of threats and vulnerabilities are:
- Phishing attacks
- Denial of Service or DDOS attacks
List of common cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities (with examples)
While you may read or hear about cyberattacks on major companies, you must also take care to protect your individual online information so you don’t become part of the news cycle of being hacked. The list of cyber security threats is expansive, but here are some recent examples of cyber security threats that have made headlines.
Cybercriminals use ransomware to lock or encrypt sensitive data on computer systems and demand payment to regain access.
Example of a ransomware threat
The Colonial Pipeline Attack in late April 2021 is one of the most recent examples in the United States.
The attack impacted a significant part of the East Coast supply chain by disrupting gas supplies, causing panic at local gas stations. However, the main point of alarm was the amount Colonial Pipeline paid to release their sensitive data - $4.4 million.
Fortunately, U.S. law enforcement recovered much of the payment, tracing the money via cryptocurrency and digital wallet monitoring.
Ransomware attacks will only increase in the coming years as cybercriminals become more emboldened by lucrative payoffs.
2. Phishing Attacks and Social Engineering
Phishing attacks are prevalent in cybercrime, where malicious code via phishing emails attracts and fools unexpected users. The code then installs spyware to steal data and sensitive information, such as account and social security numbers or private home addresses and phone numbers.
Example of a phishing attack
A typical example is an email that can appear to be from your antivirus software claiming your account has been compromised or suspended. You must then click a link to provide authentication, but the link takes you to a site where attackers take that information to commit fraud or sell on the dark web.
Another spinoff of phishing is spear-phishing, where the attacker uses false emails, SMS texts, or voicemails that prey on individuals or companies. This form of social engineering tricks users to help them infiltrate servers or systems.
3. Malware Attacks
Malware attacks are the most common online security threats that use software such as ransomware, viruses, and worms. When a user clicks a suspicious link or opens a fake email, the program can cause irreparable damage such as shutting down network systems or collecting confidential information.
Example of a malware attack
During the pandemic, criminals sent emails with malicious links or attachments claiming to offer legitimate or sensitive information. Unsuspecting victims visited links or opened the attachments only to find the links or files infected their systems.
4. Denial of Service Attacks (DOS) and Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDOS)
Denial of Service attacks overflow networks or servers with massive traffic, causing the system to be unable to process genuine service requests. The attacks can also use several infected devices to attack a targeted system, called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.
Example of a DOS or DDOS threat
A DOS attack shut down Finland’s Department of Defense and Foreign Affairs websites on April 8, 2022.
Although the sites eventually recovered, the government closed both sites to prevent further damage. Later that day, via Twitter, the Finnish government posted on its Twitter account to assure its people of its safety: “Due to website protection, [the] main part of the sites continued to work normally during the attack.”
Top sources of security threats
Cyber threat actors worldwide implement subversive and critical security threats to your information. They use a particular methodology to achieve their goals (you can view more details via our cyber threat actors page).
Cyber threats can be posed by:
Enemy nations (such as Russia and China) use cybercrime to disrupt communications, anticipate military activities, shut down essential facilities such as pipelines or shipping ports, or threaten national security.
Hackers breach defenses and exploit weaknesses in a system or network. They are motivated by personal gain, revenge, stalking, financial gain, and political activism.
Terrorist groups infiltrate, compromise, or sabotage national security, military equipment, or the economy via the internet.
Seek to profit or steal from a competitor by stealing proprietary information, gaining unauthorized access to data, or sabotaging infrastructure
What are the best ways to protect against these types of information security threats and vulnerabilities?
There are several simple ways to defend against cyber threats and malware. Here are a few:
Always be vigilant.
Use IT security measures and follow its protocols regularly to prevent unauthorized access to computer systems, sensitive data, or critical infrastructure at your company. Risk management and assessment are essential!
Practice phishing and malware attack simulations.
Implementing regular drills to keep employees aware of the impact and dangers of such situations can help them anticipate and intercept possible data breaches that can cripple your company’s critical infrastructure.
Update systems, software, and security regularly.
Cyber threats are becoming more prevalent by the minute. Optimizing your network and firewalls with the latest patches and updates will eliminate many issues before they become critical.
What types of cyber attack can we expect in the future?
As bad actors become more proficient in their efforts to steal information, data, or finances, they create more issues globally. The types of cyber attacks will only increase. It’s essential that you are aware of them before they strike.
The pandemic spurred many businesses to work remotely, and cyber criminals are already trying to infiltrate cloud-based computer networks.
IoT (Internet of Things) infiltration
According to the International Data Center (IDC), 41.6 billion connected IoT devices will be in place by 2025. Companies worldwide use IoT devices to collect data, enhance the customer experience, improve operational efficiency, and manage infrastructure remotely.
Mobile device attacks
Smartphones, tablets, and laptops lacking proper security measures have a high risk of exposure.
“Man-in-the-Middle” (MitM attack)
A hacker intercepts messages between a sender and recipient, creating the illusion of direct communication to obtain or alter top-secret information.
Final points on the different kinds of cyber security threats
While cybersecurity is becoming more advanced and invasive to businesses and organizations locally and globally, there are still several simple but effective ways to avoid common digital security risks.
Cybersecurity remains a top priority for continuance and recovery. Effective security teams are the frontline defense for your agency - anticipating attacks before they happen, recovering data more efficiently, and shielding it from future impacts.
And always stay vigilant.
What should you do if serious security threats have been detected on your computer?
Should you detect any threats on your computer attempting to gain access to your data, stop any computer use and immediately contact your IT personnel or an IT professional to prevent any additional spread. They can mitigate the damage and eliminate the threat if you take care of it immediately.
The first line of defense against computer security issues is to avoid unnecessary computer security risks is being aware and spotting any issues before you’re compromised. Unfortunately, hackers and various threat actors are becoming more clever in stealing data so you must remain alert!
What are the most common computer security threats of all?
Common threats to information security include:
Ransomware. Not only are companies being targeted, but government agencies and power grids are as well. Additionally, criminals are using the anonymity of cryptocurrency to make it more difficult to track.
Phishing attacks. Hackers use more sophisticated methods to trick users into gaining access and committing identity theft.
What is the most common source of critical security threats?
Data security threats are numerous, but some common types of cyber threats are:
Attack vectors. Hackers generate them to infiltrate systems and networks.
Criminal organizations and nation-states. Nefarious groups hire a contingent of bad actors to commit cybercrimes en masse.
Industrial or internal espionage. Individuals or groups collect proprietary information or schematics for profit or sabotage.