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Cybercriminals are doubling their number of cyberattacks as the number of people working remotely or online increases post-2020, according to the FBI. A growing number of research studies demonstrate the impact of one successful cyberattack on a company and its users.

Data breaches exposed almost 197 million records in 2017 for example. Even as the overall number of data breaches has decreased, the number of data breaches in 2020 has grown to 37 billion. IBM reports that the average cost of a data breach has grown from $7.91M to $8.64M between 2018 and 2020 among organizations that are victims of these attacks in countries like the United States.

There is a lot of human error involved in how cyber criminals breach organizations. When they click on a malicious link without realizing it, even your brightest employees can become your biggest weakness. Despite your data security efforts, however, other cyberattacks are exploiting security holes.

You can prevent your organization from being breached by these seven common cyberattacks in 2021 by taking the steps outlined below.

1. Malware Attacks

This term describes a wide variety of types of malicious software that aim to infiltrate, spy on, or create backdoors to control an organization’s data and systems. Ransomware, worms, trojans, adware, and spyware are all part of it. In early 2020, researchers reported that malware usage had increased 800%.

Malware can cause severe business operations disruptions and lead to serious data breaches. A major ransomware attack against Microsoft occurred recently, where WannaCry utilized a weakness in their operating system to display that ominous message to banks, health care providers, manufacturers, and many other businesses around the world.

Businesses had to pay a ransom in Bitcoin to the creators of the WannaCry program to regain access to their computers and any unbacked-up files. Users are typically tricked into downloading malware unknowingly by clicking a malicious link or by being led to believe they are downloading something legitimate when they aren’t.

How to Prevent Malware Attacks?

In the event they accidentally stumble onto a suspicious link or pop-up that contains malware, teaching them how to spot it can help reduce the chance of infecting your system.

Keeping your operating systems up to date with security patches and using antivirus software are additional ways to protect against malware. In Equifax’s case, if a known patch had been put in place as soon as possible, the data breach could have been prevented.

2. Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

In a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS), compromised computer networks (botnets) flood the target with traffic, causing them to go offline. There is a flood of traffic that prevents real users from gaining access to the target.

Due to the unprecedented DDoS attack, GitHub was down for about 20 minutes when hit with 1.35 terabytes of traffic per second in 2018.

Attacks by DDoS have increased by 50% in 2020 compared with 2019, according to security company Kaspersky, with a large spike during the pandemic in early 2020.

How to Prevent DDoS Attacks?

There are often difficulties in distinguishing between DDoS attacks and legitimate traffic, which makes them hard to locate. A web application firewall can detect suspicious traffic patterns and block or rate-limit traffic to a website, or scatter traffic across a network of servers to reduce the impact of DDoS attacks.

3. Phishing Attacks

Phishing is when a malicious email or SMS that looks like a real request but is a scam, is sent to users to steal information or trick them into downloading malware.

Phishing attacks have been the leading cause of data breaches worldwide for the past decade, according to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report.

It was targeted phishing campaigns (spear-phishing) that permitted the hackers to hack into AP’s Twitter account and falsely inform users that the White House was under attack, as did malicious actors who leaked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman’s emails before the 2016 election.

How to Prevent Phishing Attacks?

Educating your employees on phishing attacks is the best way to protect your organization against phishing attacks.

4. Credential Stuffing Attacks

In acryptographic brute-force cyber-attack, credential stuffing refers to stealing usernames and passwords from one data breach and using them to break into a new organization’s accounts.

Statistics show that 65% of people reuse their passwords across multiple accounts, making it possible for credential stuffing to occur. Credential stuffing is one of the leading causes of data breaches in the world.

How to Prevent Credential Stuffing Attacks?

Using the password-less authentication method or multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the best way to protect against credential stuffing. Bad actors are prevented from using stolen credentials by password-less authentication by removing them from access, whereas MFA requires them to verify their identity separately from the stolen credentials they’re using.

5. Password Spraying Attack

Using a list of commonly used passwords like “123456” or “password,” bad actors try to guess a user’s password by spraying their password.

The practice of spraying passwords is quite common, just like credential stuffing. For instance, several studies found that more than 80% of data breaches attributed to hacking were the result of brute-force techniques like password spraying.

How to Prevent Password Spraying Attacks?

By using password-less authentication or multi-factor authentication, you can prevent password spraying attacks, just like you can prevent credential stuffing attacks. If you follow the NIST Password Guidelines, which are considered the best password guidelines in the world, you can also reduce the risk and impact of a data breach caused by password spraying.

6. Mobile Phone Attacks

Mobile workforces improve operational efficiency and productivity, which is why organizations strive to increase them. The fact remains, cybercriminals are well aware of this fact and we see them launching a variety of attacks on mobile devices more and more every year, putting organizations at greater risk for a data breach.

Pegasus, the virus that infected Apple’s iOS software is just one example. iPhones were infected by Pegasus via phishing text messages that included a link to click. As soon as you clicked on the link, you were presented with spyware that could monitor you by listening to your microphone and camera. The users’ login credentials for WhatsApp, Gmail, and other sensitive applications were stolen once they became infected.

How to Prevent Mobile Phone Attack?

A strong enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) program and Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools are essential for protecting your data from mobile attacks on mobile devices, such as personal and work devices used by your employees. Secure applications that contain sensitive information can also be protected with identity and access management tools like multi-factor authentication.

The Bottom Line

Strong authentication protocols can mitigate or prevent many of the issues on this list, as well as, others that many companies face. In the first place, this means having a good policy and educating employees. By adding a layer of security, such as multi-factor authentication, brute-force protection, or password-less authentication, to your system login procedures, you can greatly enhance security.

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