What are the Most Common Cyber Security Threats?

Cyber-crime is on the rise in the UK, with 50% of UK businesses reporting a cyber-attack in 2024, resulting in £890M of reported financial losses for individuals between June 2022 to May 2023. As cyber threats become more sophisticated, it's crucial to understand the most common threats to cyber security and how to avoid them.

What is a cyber security threat? 

Cyber security protects systems, networks, controls, devices, and data from cyber threats or attacks. A cyber security threat refers to anything that could negatively impact these systems and networks. These threats usually arise when an attacker targets an organisation or individual to gain unauthorised access to their data. 

What are the most common types of cyber security threats? 

Malware is the most common type of cyber attack. It’s a program or code created with the objective of harming the computer, network, or server. Examples include viruses, worms, Trojans, and ransomware. Protect yourself by using updated antivirus software and avoiding downloading files from untrusted sources. 

Using emails, SMS, phone, and social media: phishing entices a user to share personal information, such as credit card details or account passwords. Phishing emails often look legitimate, mimicking trusted organisations like your bank. Always verify the source before clicking on links or providing information. 

Spoofing involves a cyber-criminal disguising as a known or trusted source, such as a friend or colleague, to steal information, extort money, or install malware. Protect yourself by verifying the identity of the sender, especially when asked for sensitive information. 

Identity-based attacks 
When a user’s credentials are compromised, and someone pretends to be them, it can be challenging to differentiate between the original user and the hacker. Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication to mitigate this risk. 

Baiting is an attack where a scammer uses a false promise to lure a user into a trap to steal personal or financial information or install malware. Avoid falling for offers that seem too good to be true and never plug unknown USB drives into your computer. 

Pharming is a form of phishing without enticement. The attacker installs malicious code on your device or server, redirecting you to a fake website to steal personal information. Use DNS filtering and ensure your browser is up to date to avoid these attacks. 

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What are some common signs of a cyber-attack? 

Cyber criminals often work in the dark, remaining unseen. It can be hard to know if you’ve fallen victim to a cyber-attack until it’s too late. Here are some signs that you may be at risk: 

  • Accounts have been locked or passwords have been changed without your awareness. 
  • Regular files, applications, or services are inaccessible. 
  • Files or software have been deleted, installed, or altered without your involvement. 
  • Internet speeds are slower than usual due to a surge in network traffic. 
  • Emails are being sent automatically without your knowledge. 

If you are experiencing any of these issues, you may have been breached. It’s important to act quickly to mitigate the damage. Change your passwords, run a comprehensive antivirus scan, and contact your IT department or a cyber security professional.

Internal vs external threats to cyber-security 

External cyber threats originate from outside an organisation, such as hackers, cybercriminals, or competitors attempting to breach systems. Internal cyber threats, on the other hand, come from within the organisation and may involve employees, contractors, or partners with access to sensitive data or systems, either accidentally or deliberately compromising security. 

What can you do to protect yourself against cyber-attacks? 

  • Educate yourself and your team: Regular training on recognising and avoiding cyber threats is crucial. We offer a short, 25-minute, accredited cyber security course which is perfect for staying educated. 
  • Use strong passwords: Implement complex passwords and change them regularly. 
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Adds an extra layer of security. 
  • Keep software updated: Regular updates patch vulnerabilities that could be exploited. 
  • Back up your data: Regular backups ensure you can recover data in case of an attack. 
  • Install security software: Use reputable antivirus and anti-malware programs. 
  • Monitor your accounts: Regularly check for suspicious activity. 

By staying informed and vigilant, you can protect yourself and your organisation from the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. 

Purchase our short cyber security course today to stay safe online. 

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