Skip to main content

📣 Join the Next Webinar "Cybersecurity 101: How to Protect Your Business in the Digital Age"

«  View All Posts

Top 5 Cyber Threats to Businesses in 2024 (And How to Stop Them)

Contributor: Allison Wojcik, Commercial Specialist

March 8th, 2024 | 7 min. read

By Tony Calavitta

Top 5 Cyber Threats to Businesses in 2024 (And How to Stop Them)

Your screens freeze. You look over the cubicle divider at your coworker who also appears frantic. In fact, the entire staff seems visibly distressed. A collective gasp sucks the air out of the office, as the same ransom demand pops up on every screen. Your company is now a pawn in a ransomware scheme.

 REWIND 

Your inbox overflows as you down your morning coffee, trying to tackle the endless stream of messages. Among them, an urgent request from what seems to be a trusted partner with a familiar project name captures your attention. It’s a no-brainer to address it – CLICK. With that single click your company's data is exposed to digital thieves.

  REWIND  

Your day unfolds like any other. Then, out of nowhere, your website goes down. Eyes meet in confusion as your digital bridge to customers collapses under a surplus of phony internet traffic. Panic rises as customer complaints flood in, making it clear this isn't a simple outage – it's a full-blown assault.

  PAUSE  

These 3 scenarios paint a clear picture of the many digital dangers lurking online. Alarming, right?

What’s even more alarming is the above narratives are not fiction cyberattacks, similar to the ones depicted, happen each and every day.

When your business operates online, you are constantly inundated with digital threats. And the variety, complexity, and increasing prevalence of cyberattacks make it difficult for any business to safeguard data. However, with a deep understanding of common cyber threats and a comprehensive digital defense strategy, you can mitigate the cyber risks your business faces every day.

Here at Combined, we’ve created this article to provide you with both!

In this article, we will explore the 5 most common cyberattacks – from phishing to Ransomware – that all businesses are targets for.

By reading to the end, you’ll not only heighten your knowledge of cybersecurity red flags but will also be equipped with a cyber defense game plan for each, so you can protect your business from even the most dangerous digital advances.

The spectrum of cyberattacks: Today’s 5 most common cyber threats

Did you know that over 2,200 cyberattacks occur each day? That’s over 800,000 per year! To make matters worse, these cyber threats aren’t all the same. In fact, they come in various forms, each with unique mechanisms and distinct targets.

This means that being able to recognize different warning signs of digital danger is the first step toward strengthening your business’s defenses against cyber threats.

So, what will we discuss next?  Exactly that!

In this section, we will dive into the details of the 5 most common types of cyberattacks businesses encounter.

Malware: The internet intruder

The term "malware" encompasses a vast arsenal of malicious software, each with a unique way of infiltrating and harming a system.

Here's a breakdown of the 4 most common culprits:

1.  Viruses

Imagine a digital parasite.

Viruses are programs that attach to legitimate files and spread like wildfire, infecting other clean files and programs.

This uncontrolled growth can damage your system's core functions, corrupt or delete valuable data, and wreak havoc on your entire operation.

2.  Worms

Viruses sound bad, right?

Well now take a virus, give it the capability to spread on its own, and – voila – now you have a worm. 

Unlike traditional viruses that need a user or file to activate them, worms exploit weaknesses in computer networks. They can find these vulnerabilities and use them to automatically copy themselves across different devices connected to a network.

This rapid self-replication can quickly consume system resources, slowing down or even crashing affected computers. And because it can multiply in the blink of an eye, worms can cripple an entire network faster than you can finish this sentence.

3.  Trojans

These are the digital wolves in sheep's clothing.

They disguise themselves as legitimate software, such as games, productivity tools, or even system updates.

Once you install them, Trojans can cause serious problems by:

  • Stealing your information including login credentials, credit card details, or other sensitive data.
  • Installing additional harmful software and further compromising your system's security.
  • Taking complete control of your computer and allowing attackers to access your files, monitor your activity, or even lock you out entirely.

4.  Spyware

Not all malware is disruptive though.

Aptly named, Spyware silently monitors your activity, collecting browsing habits, login credentials, and even financial details.

This stolen information fuels targeted advertising or, even worse, identity theft.

Recognizing malware involves vigilance!

Unexpected system slowdowns, crashing software, and unsolicited pop-ups can all be signs of infection.

To combat malware effectively, prioritize a multi-layered defense strategy.

Start with comprehensive antivirus software for real-time threat detection, complemented by regular software updates to patch vulnerabilities. Educate users on recognizing suspicious activities to prevent inadvertent downloads of malicious software. Finally, ensure regular data backups to recover swiftly from any malware-induced damage, keeping your digital environment secure and resilient.

Phishing: The email exploiter

Phishing attacks don't rely on complicated hacking techniques – they exploit trust.

Phishing emails or messages are cleverly disguised to appear legitimate, often mimicking trusted sources like banks, credit card companies, or even familiar colleagues.

The goal is simple: to trick you into revealing sensitive information you wouldn't normally share. This could include login credentials, credit card numbers, or even your Social Security number.

This digital masquerade takes on various forms:

  • Spear phishing targets you specifically, using personalized information to lower your guard.
  • Whaling goes after high-profile targets, like CEOs or CFOs, hoping to access sensitive company information.

To avoid phishing scams, watch out for these telltale signs:

  • Generic greetings
  • Misspelled domains
  • Unsolicited information requests

In the digital sea, phishing is the baited hook. Remember, real institutions will navigate clear of email for sensitive exchanges.

Don't get hooked!

Phishing reels you in with a convincing disguise, but a closer look reveals the bait.

To shield against phishing, vigilance and education are paramount.

Encourage skepticism towards emails with generic greetings, misspelled domains, or unsolicited requests for sensitive information. Implementing email filtering solutions can help sift out deceptive messages, while regular training sessions empower individuals to recognize and react appropriately to phishing attempts.

Additionally, integrating Cyber Liability Insurance can provide a financial safety net, covering potential losses from successful phishing attacks and reinforcing your overall cybersecurity posture. For more on how coverage can assist with cyber challenges, read our article, Cybersecurity for Small Businesses: 6 Problems that Cyber Liability Insurance Can Solve.

Ransomware: The cyber captor

Imagine a digital kidnapper who takes your files hostage.

Ransomware encrypts your data, essentially locking you out of your own system. These malicious programs can infiltrate entire corporate networks, causing disruptions to operations, financial losses, and reputational damage.

But why? What’s the point of holding data hostage?

Well, kidnapping often involves a ransom payment and, digital kidnapping is no exception.

Regaining access to your data can come at a steep price. Ransomware attackers demand payment, typically in cryptocurrency, to decrypt your files.

Prevention is key!

The best defense against ransomware is a strong security posture.

Here's how to fortify your digital walls:

  • Regular backups – Having a recent backup of your data is crucial. In the event of an attack, a backup allows you to restore your files without paying the ransom.
  • Email vigilance – Exercise caution with email attachments and links, especially those from unknown senders. These can be common entry points for ransomware.

By following these precautions, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack.

DDoS attacks: The bandwidth blockade

Ever clicked on a website and gotten stuck in a frustrating loading loop? Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks may have been the culprit.

This type of cyberattack bombards online resources with overwhelming traffic, essentially shutting them down and preventing legitimate users from accessing them. This digital siege can target anything from an online store to a business’s critical infrastructure.

The motives behind these attacks can vary. Sometimes, they're financially motivated, with attackers extorting businesses for protection money. In other cases, they might be politically motivated, aiming to disrupt operations during critical moments.

The good news? There are ways to fight back!

Sophisticated filtering techniques act as a digital shield, identifying and blocking malicious traffic before it disrupts your online experience.

Additionally, redundancy measures, like having backup servers, can help absorb the surge and maintain operational continuity.

Insider threats: The hidden hazard

Not all digital dangers hide behind a URL. Believe it or not, some reside within the very walls of your organization.

Insider threats stem from individuals who, either intentionally or through oversight, exploit access to company systems and data. And unfortunately, it does not matter whether they are driven by malice or are simply negligence, the outcome for your business can be equally damaging.

These internal risks come in various forms. From employees sharing sensitive information out of ignorance to disgruntled staff seeking to harm the company, the list goes on.

The solution? A dual approach to cybersecurity

The challenge: Identifying these threats and implementing measures to prevent them.

The solution: On the technical side, robust access management ensures that individuals can only reach data necessary for their roles. Meanwhile, fostering a culture of security awareness empowers every team member to recognize and report potential security breaches. Together, this dual strategy forms a solid defense against the hidden hazards posed by insider threats.

The future of cyberattacks: Tomorrow’s most dreaded cyber threats

The landscape of cyber threats is in constant flux, introducing new challenges that demand attention and action.

With advancements in technology, attackers are not far behind, crafting new and increasingly sophisticated methods to breach business defenses. Understanding these threats is essential to developing a strong defense that can withstand the cybersecurity challenges of tomorrow.

Here are a couple of emerging cyber threats to watch and prepare for:

AI-Driven attacks: The automated adversary

The promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) extends to the realm of cybersecurity, offering advanced threat detection and prevention capabilities.

However, this same technology can be wielded by malicious actors, creating a new breed of self-learning threats.

AI can be used to:

  • Craft elusive malware – By analyzing security software, AI can identify and exploit vulnerabilities, allowing malware to slip through traditional defenses.

  • Forge convincing phishing attempts – AI can personalize phishing emails to mimic legitimate senders and bypass human scrutiny.

  • Evolve in real-time – The adaptive nature of AI allows these attacks to constantly learn and improve, making them harder to detect, prevent, and combat.

Traditional security solutions struggle to keep pace with this rapid evolution.

Overcoming AI-fueled cybersecurity threats

To combat this growing threat, organizations need to consider:

  • Implementing AI-powered defenses – Implementing AI-based security solutions that can learn and adapt alongside threats. Machine learning algorithms can analyze network traffic patterns, identifying anomalies that might signal an attack.

  • Staying ahead of the curve – Continuous vigilance and proactive security updates are crucial to maintaining a strong defense against the ever-changing threat landscape.

  • Carrying Cyber Liability Insurance – Consider acquiring cyber liability insurance to help mitigate financial losses in the event of a successful cyberattack. To learn more about Cyber Liability Insurance, read, What is Cyber Liability Insurance?, or check out our resource center for the latest resources on cyber protection.

Cryptojacking: The digital drain

The surging popularity of cryptocurrencies has given rise to a new breed of cyberattack – cryptojacking.

Cryptojacking is the technological equivalent of a pickpocket.

This practice covertly embeds seedy software into your devices, commandeering your computing resources to mine cryptocurrency. While your systems labor under the weight of unauthorized mining operations, symptoms like sluggish performance, soaring electricity bills, and overheated hardware might be the only whisper of its presence.

And, more often than not, its intrusion goes undetected.

How to block cryptojacking attempts

To shield your systems from the clutches of this stealthy swindler, a blend of technological safeguards and vigilant online behavior is essential.

Implementing ad blockers or anti-crypto mining browser extensions can thwart malicious scripts in their tracks. Equally important is the role of cybersecurity education – arming users with the knowledge to avoid risky clicks and dubious downloads. Keeping your antivirus software up to date is another layer of defense, critical to ensuring your digital environment stays inhospitable to cryptojackers.

Need help securing your online operations?

 

  FAST FORWARD  

You glance at your cybersecurity dashboard while sipping your morning brew. An email that could have spelled disaster is automatically flagged and quarantined. Your team, trained to spot the slightest hint of ransomware, ensures your data remains untouched. And when a surge of traffic hints at a DDoS attack, your systems adjust seamlessly, keeping your digital storefront open and secure. Your cybersecurity defenses have turned potential chaos into just another perfect day at the office, your business standing resilient against all cyber threats.

  PAUSE  

In the 5 minutes it took to read this article, you’ve become a cybersecurity pro.

And by learning more about common cyberattacks and different measures to shield your business from them, you’re one step closer to the secure scenario depicted above.

Ready to take the next step? 

compliance cta circle 400x400

 

Schedule a meeting with a Combined team member today to discuss Cyber Liability Insurance for your business.

Schedule a Meeting

 
  
 

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.