The most common cybersecurity threats out there today still pose the largest amount of risk combined, but there are dozens of types of different cybersecurity threats, and several new ones are added each year, which attack different surfaces, on different platforms again by utilizing different attack vectors.

Cyber attacks disrupt millions of businesses worldwide, and a cyberattack happens every ten seconds on average. According to Cisco, “Cyberattacks hit businesses every day. Former Cisco CEO John Chambers once said, “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they have been hacked.” According to the Cisco Annual Cybersecurity Report, the total volume of events has increased almost fourfold between January 2016 and October 2017.” Every year, cybercrime has been steadily increasing. A typical example of a popular but devastating cyberattack would be ransomware attacks that have caused immeasurable damage across systems all over the world. Research shows that cyber-attacks cause %53 of cyberattacks cause at least $500,000 of damages. The FBI’s definition of cyber threats is as follows “Malicious cyber activity threatens the public’s safety and our national and economic security. The FBI’s cyber strategy is to impose risk and consequences on cyber adversaries. Our goal is to change the behavior of criminals and nation-states who believe they can compromise U.S. networks, steal financial and intellectual property, and put critical infrastructure at risk without facing risk themselves. To do this, we use our unique mix of authorities, capabilities, and partnerships to impose consequences against our cyber adversaries.” Cybersecurity protects us against several types of malware and attacks, like; ransomware, spyware, worms, and viruses.

What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the protection of any digital system, network, or device from cyber risk. This means protecting systems from cybercriminal threats. The NIST CSRC definition of cybersecurity is as follows; “Prevention of damage to, protection of, and restoration of computers, electronic communications systems, electronic communications services, wire communication, and electronic communication, including information contained therein, to ensure its availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation.” Cybersecurity protects against the most common types of cyberattacks; like spyware, ransomware, worms, and viruses. Such malware (or malicious software) can take an entire system hostage, install harmful software, spy and monitor user data, and even disrupt hardware components. Cybersecurity includes tools such as antiviruses, VPNs or Virtual Private Networks, firewalls, routers.

What is a Cybersecurity Threat?

A cybersecurity threat directly refers to an ill-mannered or malicious attack by either an individual or organization. The individual or organization that is attempting the malicious attack, is after either breaching, disrupting, or in some way shape, or form gaining access to a certain targeted network. The end goal is most often espionage, corruption of data, theft of data, etc. There is absolutely no cyber defense out there that can guarantee a %100 cybercrime-free scenario. Cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and politically motivated high-level nation-state APT attacks are on the rise (primarily the attacks take place between the U.S., Russia, and China.

Type of Cyber Threats and Sub-Threats

There are several types of main categories of threats, as well as sub threats;

  1. Malware
  2. Spear phishing and phishing
  3. Other attacks

Under the category malware, the following types are included; ransomware, spyware, backdoors, trojans, viruses, and worms. As far as spear phishing and phishing is concerned, this is a common type of scam or fraud that does not use malware but uses social engineering to trick the user into entering their credentials onto a fake prompt, login, app, or web page. Other types of attacks that cybercriminals utilize are Man-in-the-Middle or MITM attacks when malicious actors place themselves between a reciprocal communication. Furthermore, there is the famous DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack which brute forces hundreds or thousands of access attempts to slow down, disrupt, and cause downtime for a website. There are also more types of attacks that may ring a bell, like SQL (Structured Query Language) which relies on malicious scripts, and Domain Name System (DNS) attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in the DNS system.

Where Do Cyber Threats Come From?

Cyber threats come from several sources, which range widely in severity. They can come from; nation-states (most often Russian and China), organized criminal groups, individual blackhat hackers, terrorist groups, and malicious insiders (internal threats). The industry is also expecting several emerging threats on the horizon such as pandemic-related attacks (supply chain and others, for example), cloud breaches (due to the heavy global reliance on cloud storage), IoT, or Internet of Things attacks (smart connected devices) and many more. Cyber threats are now recognized as the number one global threat by both industry IT leaders and high-tier global insurance companies. Not only that but billions of dollars are being poured into the industry to prevent future attacks like the 2020 SolarWinds Orion cyberattack that almost cost the U.S. its national security. In the future, we can expect quantum technology in the fight against cybercrime and privacy crime. Quantum technology will usher in a new level of encryption technology that will (unless harnessed equally by the bad guys) halt traditional cybercrime and lower global cyber threats. How else do we solve the cyber threat problem? The economy needs to come together on a unified cyber-preparedness plan, policies need to be kept in check and we need to make the most out of existing and emerging technologies. Beyond this, paradigms like Zero-Trust models, proper employee training, and the use of artificial intelligence in managed security solutions are what most organizations will want in order to survive. Nation-state-level attacks are not looking like they will stop anytime soon, especially as so much confidential information is stored on the cloud by every country in the world (so it is like a honeypot for cybercriminals). The only way to stop nation-state attacks in their tracks is to (like the U.S Executive Order) create new regulations for cybersecurity on a national level that allow private and public collaboration for the purposes of stopping cybercrime.