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What's With The Rise In Cyber Attacks?

It is hard to ignore what's happening. It seems like every week there is a new cyber attack. From small towns, to major cities and retailers, to public services and critical infrastructure systems. Have the hackers gone rogue? Is everyone a target?

Who Are The Cyber Criminals?

The stereotypical idea of a cyber criminal, you know the one. The lowly basement dweller, spending years putting together intrakit code to one day launch a cyberattack on their target, just isn't the reality anymore. Cyber crime has become a lucrative business, with buyers, clients, and a business model, RaaS or ransomware as a Service. Cyber groups rent out their tools for a cut of the ransoms paid by victims, making this a lucrative business model and giving anyone the tools to launch a cyber attack if they know how to navigate the dark web. Ransomware as a Service has opened the doors and made it extremely easy for anyone looking to create damage.

Cyber criminals are no longer targeting specific victims, but are looking for opportunities to exploit a potential victim, phishing if you will. Cyber criminals use tools like phishing emails to breach an organization without triggering whatever security infrastructure an organization may have inplace. Phishing has been a successful tactic because it prays on the human factor. Humans are the weakest link in cyberspace because we think and react with emotion. An email comes in, it is your manager asking you for the password to the payroll tool, you want to be helpful so you send over the login credentials. Without a second thought, you have given the criminals the keys to the kingdom.

Why Is There An Increase In Cyber Attacks?

We are in a digital revolution, and like many revolutions before, rapid changes and advancements are being made everyday. And with this growing reliance on digital technology comes increasingly complex systems that take more resources and skill to manage. At the height of the pandemic, every organization made the mad rush to go digital in order to keep business running. However, in many cases, security was left out of the equation and now many are playing catch up. The answer to this is twofold. The rise in cyber attacks can be attributed to the complexity of systems, expansion of attack surfaces, and the rapid growth of advanced techniques and tools, which provide cyber criminals with greater capabilities to carry out their malicious activities.

Increasingly complex systems, growing attack surfaces, and advanced techniques with more tools available to assist cyber criminals in getting the job done have made cyber attacks more common.

What Do Cyber Criminals Want?

Further, with the rise of remote work and the expansion of internet-connected devices the attack surface continues to expand. The more digitized an organization becomes, the larger its threat surface grows, offering cyber criminals more opportunities to exploit potential vulnerabilities. With more opportunities to exploit comes more reward and a higher payout. As we've seen in the recent Southern Ontario cyber attack, the goal is no longer to solely obtain sensitive information, but hold whole organizations hostage until the ransom is paid.

What's Next?

Cyber crime is not going away, and with the help of AI it will only get more advanced and harder to identify, catch, mitigate, and prevent. As the world increasingly embraces the digital era, staying ahead of potential cyber threats and swiftly evolving attacks may appear daunting. However, by prioritizing education, adopting proactive security measures, regularly assessing your environment, and fostering a culture of vigilance, individuals and organizations can empower themselves to effectively mitigate risks and protect their digital assets.

Our Advice

Cybersecurity is no longer an IT issue, but a joint responsibility. Cybersecurity should be a proactive and multifaceted approach. Intertwining robust security measures with education, training, and awareness will be key in mitigating potential threats. Securing privileged credentials, assessing your environment, and aligning security measures to best practices are crucial steps in securing your environment. Not sure where to start? Having a strategy in place can help you stay on track and make sure you are implementing tools, solutions, and strategies cohesively and effectively.

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