5 min read

Are You Prepared for Today’s Modern Cyber Threats?

How existing threats have dangerously evolved and why you need to pay attention

October 25, 2023


It's no secret that businesses across all sizes and industries are facing serious cybersecurity concerns these days. From phishing scams to ransomware attacks, these cyberattacks seem to be multiplying by the day.


There's also a real shortage of cybersecurity experts who can help keep your organization safe. According to Cyber Ventures, global cybersecurity job vacancies grew by 350%, from one million openings in 2013 to 3.5 million in 2021. The number of unfilled jobs remains at 3.5 million in 2023, with more than 750,000 of those positions located in the U.S.


But this is actually a great opportunity for you or your IT team to take a closer look at your security strategies to identify any gaps and determine how you can strengthen your organization’s security against modern, sophisticated cyberattacks.


So, let's dive in and explore some of the most pressing cyber threats you need to be aware of.



Cybercriminal groups operate like traditional enterprises


Cyber criminals operate like a traditional, well-organized enterprise, with different roles and resources that help them keep up with the latest technology. With funding from past attacks or nation-state support, they can experiment with technologies like generative AI to craft and deploy complex attacks that can be hard to identify and address swiftly.


For example, cybercriminal groups are deploying whaling techniques – a type of phishing attack on a high-profile, high-value target such as a company CEO. In a whaling attack, hackers learn everything they can about their target, including combing through their social media posts. This process can take months. Once they’ve learned everything they can about their target, a threat actor impersonates someone known to the target and invites their victim to share a document in an online office suite app.


When the victim accesses the document, it opens a remote HTML platform asking that person to sign into that office suite. Once they sign in, the criminals gain access to all of the target’s documents, emails, calendars, and contacts. The victim often doesn’t know they’ve been attacked until much later.


Armed with the victim’s information, threat actors can deploy a number of different attacks including ransomware, cyber extortion, data theft and more.



Generative AI makes phishing attacks more effective


Many organizations rely on ChatGPT for communication and collaboration. So have cybercriminals. In the past, it was easier for an employee to spot scams or phishing attempts within emails due to spelling errors or poor grammar. However, with the use of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, criminals can now create emails that look legitimate.


This trend was highlighted in a recent report by the Cloud Security Alliance


The rapid advancements in AI technology have significantly improved the capabilities of threat actors to create deceptive emails that closely resemble genuine correspondence. The flawless language, contextual relevance and personalized details within these emails make it increasingly difficult for recipients to recognize them as phishing attempts.



Wiper malware intensifies the impact of ransomware attacks


Over the past couple of years, attackers have been adding wiper malware to their ransomware arsenal. Wiperware was initially discovered by the cybersecurity community a decade ago and is now making a resurgence. It gives cybercriminals the ability to delete data and impact critical system availability of operational technology (such as building management systems), or manufacturing equipment and servers unless a ransom demand is met.


While ransomware attacks have become increasingly more sophisticated and expensive, combining wiper malware with ransomware empowers criminals looking to extort larger payments from their victims. A threat actor can ask for money because they are in control of the victim company’s operational technology (OT) which is also tied to their IT networks. In the past, there was an “air gap” between OT and IT networks - basically they were siloed from each other. Now that the “air gap” has been removed, OT networks are vulnerable to the same threats as IT networks.


“Looking ahead, the use of wipers in combination with other attack vectors is one of the biggest emerging threats we’re facing as a security community. Wipers can potentially take cyberspace by storm, impacting IT networks across public and private sectors worldwide."


Fortinet Cyber Threat Predictions for 2023



Cybercrime-as-a-service is on the rise


Hackers rely on tried-and-true methods to infiltrate companies’ networks, using attack methods that are easy to execute and provide a quick payday.


Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) provides turnkey, subscription-based offerings to threat actors. CaaS can be used to deploy a multitude of attacks including phishing, ransomware, distributed denial of service (DDoS), and more. CaaS empowers cybercriminals of all skill levels to deploy more sophisticated attacks without investing the time and resources upfront to craft their own game plans. And since cybercriminals often operate as traditional enterprises, CaaS provides them with an additional revenue stream by creating and selling “as a service” attack portfolios that offer a simple, quick, and repeatable payday.



Ransomware shows no signs of slowing down


Recent research shows alarming trends in ransomware. Ransomware is one of the most popular cyberattack methods due to the fact that cybercriminals can effectively deploy these attacks to gain an organization’s sensitive data. Even if the victim companies pay the ransom, very few of them recover their data from the hackers.


A global cybersecurity survey conducted with hundreds of cybersecurity professionals revealed that 80% of respondents said they are “very” or “extremely” concerned about the threat of ransomware. Interestingly, 78% of organizations said they felt prepared against the threat of ransomware.However, the report also found that 50% of respondents fell victim to ransomware in the last year, and half of these organizations were targeted two or more times.


While most of these companies are taking precautions against ransomware, cybercriminals often have the upper hand in identifying weaknesses or gaps in their security and crafting new cyberattacks to exploit them.


The global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD 4.45 million, a 15% increase over 3 years.



The financial impact of ransomware


The financial impact of these ransomware attacks can be significant. Of the organizations that experienced a ransomware incident, 71% reported paying at least a portion of the demanded ransom, even though 72% indicated they detected the incident within hours (often within minutes). And while nearly all respondents had cyber insurance, this didn’t guarantee that all costs would be covered, or their data would be restored. In fact, only 35% of those affected by ransomware recovered all their data after the incident.


Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that damages from ransomware will increase by 30% year-over-year over the next decade. Total damages are estimated to exceed $265 billion annually, with a new attack happening every two seconds.


The threats are real, and no organization is safe from them. Now is the time to implement steps and solutions to minimize your risk. ShareFile can help. Learn more about how you can better protect your corporate and client data.