Cybersecurity Monsters That Are Truly Terrifying
October, traditionally associated with monsters, ghosts, and pumpkins, has also become a month of reflection on digital dangers and the importance of good practices by individuals and organizations within cyberspace. In the second quarter of 2023 alone, for instance, the global cybersecurity technology market saw an annual growth of 11.6%, reaching $19 billion, according to Canalys – a world leader in market analysis for the tech sector.
With such data and because I work with Information Management and Business Processes, I know that these digital monsters are far scarier than any Halloween costume. But I also know that once understood and prevented, they can be effectively combated. Let’s see:
- The Ghost of Missing Data: This entity not only steals data but makes it disappear, become corrupted, or altered. And here, malware attacks, namely adware (infected advertisements) and ransomware (data ransom for encrypted data through payment), are just the tip of the iceberg! We can add inconsistencies in networks, unauthorized attempts to access internal resources, compromised accounts, and attempts at data cloning, among other activities. To avoid this monster, ensure regular backups, implement intrusion detection systems, and constantly monitor data access. Data encryption and cryptography can be essential measures.
- The Zombie of Weak Passwords: This monster has a special fondness for passwords with birth dates or simple numerical sequences like 1234, and the damage it causes can range from data theft to altering server configurations. With the advent of increasingly sophisticated cracking tools, even passwords that seem strong can be vulnerable. Protect yourself from this monster with two-factor authentication systems, promote employee training on the importance of strong passwords (combining uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols), and perform regular security audits to identify potential vulnerabilities.
- The Vampire of Phishing: This being has evolved in the way it lures and sucks in its victims. It doesn’t limit itself to emails but also uses text messages, social networks, and phone calls. With malicious intentions disguised as friendly messages, this monster tries to impersonate another person or entity to distribute malicious/fraudulent attachments or links. These links and attachments can execute improper actions on servers or extract information from the accounts and login credentials of the victims. To combat this threat, it’s crucial to promote regular awareness activities, implement email filtering solutions, and monitor web traffic to identify and prevent phishing attempts.
- The Werewolf of Vulnerable Software: Whenever it encounters a legacy system, applications, outdated technologies, or those with hidden vulnerabilities, this monster howls repeatedly, causing code errors and system breaches that affect user productivity and increase the potential for cyberattacks. This monster doesn’t limit itself to PCs and laptops; it also attacks IoT devices, servers, and even industrial control systems. Therefore, it is important to implement a rigorous policy of updating and patching to fix bugs, add features or resources, and continuously improve the overall performance of systems.
- The Witch of Insecure Networks, Pages, and Devices: She loves to fly over public Wi-Fi networks but also strolls through poorly configured VPNs, websites without HTTPS, devices not authorized by the organization, and insecure network connections in corporate environments. Escape her by avoiding public networks and implementing robust security solutions that include next-generation firewalls, updated antivirus software, PINs, and/or two-factor authentication. Always keep your devices up-to-date and be cautious when sharing sensitive information, especially on unknown networks, social media, or suspicious web pages.
- The Mummy of Ignorance: One of the worst threats is the lack of training, awareness, and preparation of employees in the domain of cybersecurity best practices and the proper use of available tools and software. There is also some ignorance about current legislation, as well as the rights and obligations associated with data management and protection, which can lead to serious compliance failures and potential sanctions for the organization. This gap allows many professionals to become entry points for threats and attacks by this monster, in the form of clicks on suspicious links, downloads of malicious software, or even exposure to industrial espionage risks due to lack of protection and confidentiality of vital information.
All these monsters are very real and constantly evolving. However, with knowledge, preparation, and the right tools, we can face them and ensure a digital environment that adheres to four essential values applied to data: confidentiality, availability, integrity, and authenticity.
Identifying vulnerabilities, creating asset inventories, and categorizing them according to the degree of risk becomes crucial to direct any kind of investment in security. This strategy also serves as a foundation for organizations to develop effective response plans for themselves and their stakeholders in attack situations.
*Article originally published in IT Security.