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【Defending Against Cyber Attacks】Understanding Emerging Trends in Threats to Enhance Enterprises' Cybersecurity

Information Security

Defending Against Cyber Attacks Understanding Emerging Trends in Threats to Enhance Enterprises’ Cybersecurity

A recent report indicates that losses due to cyber attacks would grow at an alarming rate of 15% annually, surpassing US$10 trillion by 2025. In fact, there is lack of a clear definition for the term “cyber attack”. At the same time, the types and patterns of cyber attacks are always changing, which are further worsened by the increased complexity and frequency of cybersecurity threats enabled by cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). This article will explore the intricacies of common cyber attacks, analyze the latest trends in cybersecurity threats, and offer highly effective defense and mitigation strategies. Empowering you to safeguard against cyber attacks and fortify any potential security gaps in your network.

What is Cyber Attack?

While there is no universally agreed-upon definition of cyber attack, the industry generally recognizes cyber attack as an unauthorized action perpetrated by malicious individuals. These attacks involve the intentional destruction or unauthorized transfer of digital assets belonging to others.

Nowadays, an increasing number of large enterprises are embracing cloud technologies, which has led to a substantial growth in both the frequency and scale of cyber attacks. According to the research institution, over 490 million ransomware attacks were discovered by enterprises and organizations worldwide in 2022, resulting in data breaches of over HK$30 million. Cyber attacks are anticipated to increase unabatedly in the future and have wider repercussions. This unquestionably presents an enormous difficulty for contemporary businesses.

Dynamic and Complex Landscape of Cyber Attacks: Understanding 5 Major Cybersecurity Threats

As networking technology continues to evolve, so do the types and techniques of cyber attacks. It is difficult to present an exhaustive list given the increasingly diversified nature of cyber attacks. Below are the 5 most prevalent categories:

Category 1: Phishing Attack

Phishing is a cunning tactic that makes use of social engineering employed by fraudsters. By exploiting human social and psychological vulnerabilities, they employ deceit, enticement, or manipulation to deceive victims and obtain their personal information, assets, or other sensitive data.

Counterfeiting emails, websites, or other communication channels are some common phishing strategies which are used to deceive victims into clicking on malicious links and disclosing their personal information. In order to lure victims to provide sensitive information like passwords, bank account numbers, or personal identification, perpetrators frequently pose as reputable organizations like banks, email service providers, or government authorities.

Category 2: Malware

Malicious software (Malware) encompasses various forms including ransomware, computer viruses, trojans and spyware. Hackers usually deploy this malicious software onto victims’ computers or devices without authorization.

Malicious software is usually downloaded through phishing links. Once successfully infiltrating the victim’s computer system, it conducts unauthorized activities such as stealing sensitive data, sending malicious emails, launching attacks on other systems of websites, and more. Advanced malicious software makes use of encryption, compression and other technologies to evade detection by antivirus programs, making it harder for victims to detect them.

Category 3: MITM Attack

Man-in-the-Middle Attack (MITM Attack) refers to a technique employed by hackers during communication processes, which they would interfere the communication processes and redirect content to a location under their control. The ultimate goal of this attack is to obtain data and disrupt communication.

In an MITM Attack, hackers often impersonate legitimate or well-known identities such as news websites and public Wi-Fi networks to increase credibility and deceive victims into transmitting sensitive information to the hacker. In addition to impersonation, hackers use a number of other methods to carry out MITM attacks, including IP address spoofing, redirecting HTTPS requests to non-encrypted HTTP requests, and more.

Category 4: DDoS Attack

Distributed Denial-of-Service Attack (DDoS Attack) occurs when hackers exploit multiple devices controlled by malicious software to overload a target network or server with an excessive volume of traffic, surpassing its capacity to handle it. Consequently, the target unable to operate effectively, or even being completely incapacitated.

DDoS Attack poses a significant risk to businesses that rely on their online services. It interferes with how websites or applications normally operate, negatively affecting user experience and introducing risks of data loss.

Category 5: SQL Injection

SQL injection is achieved by exploiting vulnerabilities in applications. Hackers manipulate SQL queries by inserting malicious code, allowing them to perform unauthorized operations on the database. These operations may include stealing, modifying, or deleting critical information stored within the database.

For instance, consider a scenario where a user enters username and password. On the backend, the system queries the database to verify the user's credentials. Hackers take advantage of this process by inserting SQL commands such as adding "OR 1=1" to bypass the authentication mechanism and manipulate the intended behavior of the system.

Rise of Larger Scale, Higher Frequency Intelligent Cyber Attacks

The rapid development and widespread adoption of AI in recent years has not only revolutionized our daily lives and work routines but have also impacted the landscape of cyber attacks.

As an illustration, hackers leverage the power of ML to build automated scanning tools that can swiftly identify vulnerabilities within the target systems. They also use AI to analyze victims' social media footprints in order to learn more about their habits and interests. This gives them the ability to create highly precise and sophisticated phishing tactics without manual intervention. As a result, the efficiency, accuracy, and success rate of cyber attacks have reached new heights.

As Internet of Things (IoT) technology continues to evolve, an ever-increasing number of physical devices are becoming interconnected, forming expansive IoT ecosystems. These interconnected devices, designed for long-term network connectivity and operating in a highly interdependent manner, present an alarming vulnerability. A domino effect can result from the successful breach of a single IoT device within the network, which will disrupt the operation of other connected devices.

Rapidly Evolving Cybersecurity Threats Demand More Effective Countermeasures

How enterprises respond to cyber attacks? (1) | Immediately Disconnect from the Network

In the face of cybersecurity threats, businesses should disconnect their networks immediately as a crucial first response to halt the propagation and further destruction caused by the threats. In the event of an attack on a single device, isolating it from the network is essential. In a similar vein, if the entire system is compromised, one should consider disconnecting the network connection of the entire system to prevent the adverse effects of the cyber attack from spreading and escalating.

How enterprises respond to cyber attacks? (2) | Notify the Responsible Team

After responding preliminarily, enterprises should promptly notify the teams responsible for handling these security issues, such as the IT department or trusted Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) for further investigation and implement effective response and mitigation measures.

As an experienced MSSP, CITIC Telecom CPC boasts a team of experts comprising cybersecurity professionals. All team members hold multiple international certifications including CISA, CISSP and CompTIA Security+. With our 24x7 real-time monitoring capabilities, we can quickly identify and analyze network security risks, and provide comprehensive network security support and professional services for enterprises of all sizes.

How enterprises respond to cyber attacks? (3) | Recover Systems and Data

To quickly regain control and reduce operational losses following a network assault, systems and data must be restored as soon as possible in a secure environment. Businesses that regularly backup their data have the advantage of recovering damaged or lost data and restoring systems to their pre-attack condition, enabling a swift return to normal operations.

CITIC Telecom CPC’s SmartCLOUD™ BRR offers a robust backup and disaster recovery solutions, which can recover and resume business operations after a significant business disruption with second-level RPO and minute-level RTO. By supporting different backup scenarios including physical, virtual or cloud servers, SmartCLOUD™ BRR is a reliable cloud backup and recovery service that ensures worry-free business continuity and reduces operational downtime.

How enterprises respond to cyber attacks? (4) | Evaluate the Losses caused by Cyber Attacks

Evaluate the incurred losses is an important step when enterprises encounter cyber attacks. It allows them to identify damaged devices, systems, data and services, as well as comprehend the extent and impact of the damages. The process enables enterprises to better assess the effects of the attack and develop comprehensive response plans.

How enterprises respond to cyber attacks? (5) | Review and Strengthen Security Protection

To reduce the risk of being attacked again in the future, enterprises should conduct thorough investigations, examine and analyze the root cause of the attacks, scrutinize their procedures and strengthen the system’s security level.

Additionally, enterprises should foster employees’ cybersecurity awareness by offering relevant training programs. Equipping employee with comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity risks and preventive measures could effectively mitigate internal threats. Moreover, teams should conduct regular security risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities in enterprise’s system and formulate response strategies to avoid the recurrence of similar incidents.

Safeguard Against Hackers: 6 Effective Methods to Prevent Cyber Attacks

Protecting Against Cybersecurity Threats (1) | Install Firewalls

Installation of Firewalls is one of the most important measures for enterprises to ward off cybersecurity threats. Firewalls are deployed and act as a secure gateway between internal and external networks. They could diligently monitor and regulate the flow of data in and out of the enterprise network. Hence, blocking any unauthorized access and malicious attacks effectively, thereby upholding the security integrity of the enterprise network.

When installing firewalls, enterprises should carefully consider their operational requirements and budget. Configuring robust access controls and security rules is paramount as it ensures that only authorized users and applications have access to the enterprise network, mitigating potential risks associated with unauthorized intrusions.

Protecting Against Cybersecurity Threats (2) | Install Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is specifically designed to safeguard computer security by detecting and eliminating viruses, trojans, malware, and other malicious entities. It can automatically update virus database and ensure constant readiness against evolving cyber attacks.

When installing antivirus software, enterprises should prioritize trusted service providers to ensure the antivirus software itself is free from any malicious viruses. Moreover, enterprises should configure real-time monitoring capabilities within the antivirus software, enabling prompt detection and removal of viruses to increase the resistance to unauthorized entry by hackers.

Protecting Against Cybersecurity Threats (3) | Update Antivirus Software Regularly

The unquestionable importance of regularly updating antivirus software stems from the constant evolution of technology, which brings forth new and sophisticated forms of cyber attacks. In the absence of automatic updates and enterprises’ awareness of updating antivirus software, the risk of suffering from cyber attacks is significantly heightened.

To mitigate the risk, enterprises should regularly update antivirus software to defend the latest cyber attacks and threats, and comprehensively bolster their overall network security posture.

Protecting Against Cybersecurity Threats (4) | Strengthen Passwords and Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Hackers usually target weak password combinations and unencrypted accounts during cyber attacks which make it imperative to increase the complexity of passwords and implement two-factor authentication.

Enterprises can enhance account security by putting stringent policies in place. For instance, mandating user to use passwords include a combination of uppercases and lowercases, numbers and special characters, with a minimum length of 8 characters. Furthermore, enterprises can also implement password strength assessment and limit login attempts to prevent malicious users from cracking passwords. Also, two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection against unauthorized access, effectively mitigating potential cybersecurity risks.

Protecting Against Cybersecurity Threats (5) | Encrypt Endpoint Devices

Endpoint devices usually store a lot of sensitive data and information. If the data and information fall into the wrong hands, significant risks and losses may be posed to the enterprises. Therefore, it is imperative to implement end-to-end encryption on endpoint devices.

Moreover, enterprises should also encrypt communications between endpoint devices and network. For instance, utilizing SSL and TLS to prevent sensitive information from being intercepted by hackers during transmission.

Additionally, for content of utmost privacy, such as banking transactions, account credentials and other sensitive data, using end-to-end encryption is highly advised. This could ensure the information is only accessible by the intended sender and receipt that possess the encryption keys. As a result, it guarantees the confidentiality, integrity, and privacy of communications, leaving no room for hackers to exploit potential vulnerabilities.

As the modern workforce embraces remote work as a standard practice, it becomes imperative to implement robust endpoint detection and response measures. With TrustCSI™ EDR Endpoint Detection and Response Service, enterprises can proactively strengthen their networks, mitigate risks and provide reliable security for their business assets.

Protecting Against Cybersecurity Threats (6) | Strengthen Employees’ Cybersecurity Awareness

A study has revealed a concerning fact that as many as 33% of companies fail to provide cybersecurity awareness training for their remote employees. Even more alarming is that over 70% of these employees could access critical data of the enterprise.

With the ever evolving and escalating cyber attack techniques employed by hackers, solely depends on enterprises’ internal cybersecurity measures may not be sufficient to completely defend against the network threats, particularly those coming from within the enterprises itself. Therefore, reinforcing employees’ cybersecurity awareness is important to safeguard the network integrity of enterprises. To achieve this, enterprises may conduct regular security education and training programs to employees, emphasize the importance of password management, formulate and implement network usage policies, and perform simulation exercises to elevate employees’ security awareness and consciousness and hence help minimize cybersecurity risk incurred internally.

Victim Enterprises Held Legally Accountable to Consequences due to Cyber Attacks

Consequences of Cyber Attacks (1) | Loss of Critical Data for Enterprises and Customers

Cybersecurity threats pose a significant risk to enterprises and their customers, potentially resulting in loss or theft of customer information, financial records, business plans, research data, and more. Any unauthorized access by third parties could lead to enormous losses and risks to the enterprises, jeopardizing customer trust and support.

Consequences of Cyber Attacks (2) | Substantial Financial Loss

Enterprises have to allocate significant resources and financial investment to mitigate the consequences as a result of cyber attacks.

For instance, in the event of system intrusion, extensive resources and fundings are needed for threat hunting, analysis and detection of system vulnerabilities against future intrusion, recovery of damaged systems and data. Moreover, if customer data is stolen, enterprises may be burdened with significant financial compensation for customer losses. The aforementioned losses would have a disastrous effect on businesses, such as lowering the profitability, reducing market competitiveness, and unanticipated cascade losses.

Consequences of Cyber Attacks (3) | Damage to Enterprise Reputation

Systems and websites of enterprises are vulnerable to destruction of cyber attacks, and the exposure of customer data become a looming concern. Not only it causes losses to the customer, but also damages the corporate image and reputation. Particularly after the reveal of the cyber attack incidents, public may doubt the corporate cybersecurity measures are insufficient to protect customers’ data and information, eroding their trust and causing customers to gravitate towards competitors that have not been affected by cyber attacks.

Consequences of Cyber Attacks (4) | Legal Liability and Financial Penalties

To strengthen the cybersecurity awareness of enterprises, many countries and regions has enacted relevant laws and regulations. Enterprises are required to protect customer data properly and information security. Failure to comply with these legal and regulatory obligations may result in litigation and fines.

According to China’s Cybersecurity Law and EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enterprises must protect customer data with effective countermeasures. Noncompliance with these regulations can lead to substantial fines. In May 2023, the parent company of a social media giant was fined €1.2 billion for violating GDPR regulations regarding to data transfers.

CITIC Telecom CPC Empowers You to Safeguard Against Cybersecurity Threats

The complexity of the dynamic business environment is growing as a result of the widespread expansion of the digital economy. Consequently, a multitude of sophisticated cyber threats equip with intelligence and sell-learning capabilities emerged and pose threats to enterprises. Therefore, enterprises must remain vigilant when facing cybersecurity threats, as any lapse in security could lead to severe consequences. Apart from actively assessing the internal security risks and deploying comprehensive cybersecurity solutions, enterprises should backup data regularly to ensure normal operations and swift recovery in case of any unexpected attack.

CITIC Telecom CPC as a digital enabler, is committed to providing robust digital transformation support to enterprises. Our TrustCSI™ Information Security Solutions enhance cybersecurity protection of enterprises from 4 aspects, covering Identify & Predict, Protect, Detect, and Respond & Recover. Empowering your defenses against cyber attacks and constructing the most solid cybersecurity threat protection framework. Reach out to our security consulting team for more information!

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