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22 March, 2021

Cybersecurity Threats and Best Practices to Avoid Them

The risk and severity of cyber-attacks has clearly grown over the past few years. A host of new and evolving cybersecurity threats has put the information security industry on high alert. Ever-more sophisticated cyber-attacks involving malware, phishing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency and more have placed the data and assets of corporations, governments, and individuals at constant risk.

The industry continues to suffer from a severe shortage of cybersecurity professionals and experts warn that the stakes are higher than ever as the cyber-crime epidemic risks shaking public faith in such cherished ideals such as democracy, capitalism, and personal privacy.

Every other day we read news related to cybersecurity threats like ransomware, phishing, or loT-based attacks. However, 2021 comes with a whole new level of cybersecurity threats that businesses need to be aware of. In fact, a report by Threat Horizon reveals that in the coming years, organizations will face cyber threats under different themes.

SmartStatelndia discussed with eminent cybersecurity experts on this subject, and here is what NeoSOFT Founder, Mr. Nishant Rathi had to say.

Understanding and overcoming cybersecurity threats

The one thing that 2020 made extremely clear to us is the necessity for technology solutions to be flexible. Experts and business leaders had previously been talking about migrating to the cloud and undergoing digital transformation. However, for most companies, the shift was abrupt and done practically overnight to facilitate remote working and collaboration in response to the global lockdown.

2020 was no doubt the year that propelled the IT sector to new heights. But it is equally true that this year was also the one that witnessed the highest number of security breaches and phishing attacks. According to cybersecurity experts, the rate of ransomware attacks rose to 800% during the pandemic. 80% of the surveyed experts observed that the attacks got more sophisticated and smarter. With the majority working from home, the in-house infrastructure not being patched or secured — makes them further vulnerable and prone to cyber-attacks.

One of the most rampant trends seen is pandemic-related phishing. Unassuming people are coaxed into clicking links or downloading attachments that promise information on the latest developments or news — pandemic-related updates, drug or vaccine announcements, etc. in this case — or into giving up sensitive information. Another worrisome trend is the ransomware attacks that gained notability in 2017, which experts speculate might make a comeback in 2021 given their high profitability to the attackers.

Another trend that is on the rise is the DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks where a high volume of traffic slows the server down bringing a business to halt. Some hackers utilize the trend of file-less attacks which are launched by clicking malicious links.

Zero-day exploits, which were first heard of in 2014, exploit loopholes in a software program to infect products and the devices those products get to run on. 5G-enabled swarm attacks, named such for its ability to attack multiple devices at the same time, and social media spoofing are also seen commonly deployed. What we've seen so far is only a preview of the kind of malice that is yet to come. The nature of these attacks is such that there is no stopping them — which leaves only one way forward for most businesses and enterprises if they wish to remain untainted by such breaches — prevention.

The first step as an organization would be to identify and shortlist your cybersecurity requirements — especially so if you are someone that deals with sensitive and personal information of your clients. In which case, you are subjected to certain stringent and specific cybersecurity standards. All businesses, no matter their size, must have adequate corporate-grade firewalls in place as per the organization's requirements. It is equally important that the organization educates and informs its employees of security best practices such as not opening suspicious emails and links, not installing unknown or fishy software and programs, staying alert against phishing attempts, and staying on guard against and fraudulent emails that they might have received.

The next step in cybersecurity is obviously harnessing Al and ML to systematically help in outsmarting the attackers. Measures that hold the most promise are next-generation identity/access management, smart messaging security and network security, automating security orchestration, and extending security to trusted third-parties/partners whose data breaches could affect your own security.

Read the complete article on ‘Smart State India’ Click here to read.