Understanding the Evolution of the Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities at Work

October 4, 2023 | Cybersecurity & CISO Insights | 6 min read

Cybersecurity affects all of us, yet it has different implications for different people. From data protection and technological services to company ideologies and training initiatives, cybersecurity covers a wide range of ideas and topics, influencing all people who interact with it in different ways.

The world of cybersecurity is extremely dynamic. Between an increase in cyber threats, a major skilling gap in the workplace, and the rapid adoption of new technology, cyberattacks look very different today than they did a few years ago.

That’s why cybersecurity has become a strategic imperative for businesses of all sizes and industries. It requires investment in technology, employee training, policy development, and continuous monitoring to stay ahead of evolving risk.

So, what are some of the biggest cybersecurity threats today, how have they evolved, and how can your organization work to stop them? Read on to find out more.

Let’s get to work (from home)

To comprehend what the modern cybersecurity landscape looks like, it's important to understand how threats have evolved over the years. Today, organizations are increasingly relying on the internet for daily activities. This, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to an acceleration in the shift to remote work.

As information and activities relocate online, they become more vulnerable to cyber threat actors, posing a significant threat to individuals and organizations, particularly through the theft of intellectual property and personal information. This can facilitate criminal behavior such as identity theft and financial fraud. As more and more professional responsibilities are being moved online, cyber threat activity has followed, leading to an increased risk to the functioning of machinery and the personal and professional safety of organizations and their employees everywhere.

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant threats that exist today:

  1. Ransomware attacks are attacks that involve hackers encrypting a victim’s data and demanding a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. These attackers often target large organizations and critical infrastructure.
  2. Social engineering attacks are attacks that manipulate people into revealing confidential information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Phishing is a common type of social engineering attack, where attackers impersonate a trusted entity to trick victims into disclosing sensitive information.
  3. Data breaches are attacks involving unauthorized access to sensitive data, often with the intent to steal and sell it on the dark web. These attacks can result in significant financial losses and damage to an organization’s reputation.
  4. AI-driven attacks are when cybercriminals use artificial intelligence (AI) to make their attacks more sophisticated and harder to detect. AI can automate the hacking process, allowing cybercriminals to carry out attacks at scale and at a speed that was previously unimaginable.

These attacks each pose significant threats to an organization’s security and reputation, and working from home can make employees even more vulnerable, especially when considering the increase in the use of personal mobile devices in the workforce that has arisen since the pandemic.

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Ring, ring! Who’s there?

In today’s “bring your own device” work culture, handheld mobile devices are quickly becoming a favorite for hackers. Any employee who accesses company email, networks, or data on their personal mobile device can become a potential weak point in an organization’s cybersecurity defense.

According to a study done by Verizon in 2022, 58% of mobile devices had at least one malicious URL clicked, while 16% of mobile devices had at least one malware or riskware app installed. Considering those percentages within an organization exemplifies the high potential for risk and the danger cyberthreats on mobile devices pose to companies.

While many cybersecurity threats look the same regardless of the device used, there are additional threats to consider when looking at mobile devices.

  1. Phishing is the most common cyberattack today. It most often comes in the form of fake emails or text messages sent to mobile devices that look perfectly real but contain dangerous links that work to steal your information when you click on them.
  2. Vishing is like phishing but instead of texts or emails, it involves phone or video calls. During these calls that often seem legitimate, actors on the other line will often try to get you to reveal sensitive information about yourself or your organization.
  3. Fake Wi-Fi networks are another threat to which mobile devices are particularly prone. When using your personal device in a public location, be wary of the networks you connect to because illegitimate ones can steal your data as soon as you connect.
  4. Fake apps are particularly tricky to parse out. When downloading new applications to your mobile device, make sure you use a reputable app store and pay attention to what you’re installing on your device.

As technology improves, cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated so it’s important that you pay careful attention to the links you click, the calls you answer, and the apps you download—especially when working on a personal device. And importantly, it is critical that your organization has a training program in place to empower employees to do the same.

Let’s talk about AI

One of the biggest trends in the future of cybersecurity is the use of AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies.

With major developments in artificial intelligence paving the way for the future of modern technology, the cybersecurity risks associated with these technologies are inevitably not far behind. As mentioned before, cybercriminals are now using AI to make their attacks more sophisticated and harder to detect. They do this by enabling the ability to automate the hacking process, allowing cybercriminals to carry out attacks at scale and at a speed that was previously unimaginable.

This may sound scary, but don’t worry too much, because with the higher risk created by AI and ML technologies, the newer systems can also be used to help fight against cyberattacks. Now, AI and ML algorithms can analyze large amounts of data and detect patterns and anomalies that may indicate a potential threat. This allows organizations to quickly identify and respond to cyberattacks, reducing risk of damage and minimizing the impact of a breach. But, it’s important that if your organization is planning to implement AI technologies you do it ethically.

With new threats evolving as quickly as technology does, the need for advanced training programs that are equipped to handle the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape is more apparent than ever. Safeguarding your organization against cybersecurity threats is important for a multitude of reasons. Not only does it help secure devices, networks, and communication systems, but it also helps mitigate risk and save money for your organization.

To learn more about what the cybersecurity threat landscape looks like today, be sure to stay up to date on our many other courses, guides, and blogs for Cybersecurity Month Awareness Month that cover how to use education and training to successfully protect your organization.