It’s understandable to think of today’s malicious entities as new and different, but the advanced cybersecurity threats we are seeing today can be traced back decades. It actually began as a purely academic curiosity — computing and networking matured, making it inevitable that various tech experts would test out how these systems responded to stress. That gave rise to politically motivated “hacktivists” and later to hacking as a strategy for national defense.
Unfortunately, the latest evolution represents the most troubling application of hacking yet: criminal exploitation for financial gain.
Recent attacks, which have affected hundreds of thousands of computers
across multiple countries, show just how effective ransomware can be despite being relatively easy to orchestrate. There are literal out-of-the-box ransomware products that take little to no tech expertise to launch.
This evolution will affect individuals and organizations throughout 2017 and beyond. Preparation and planning is key, and the first step to protecting against a threat is to understand what you’re up against.
A Growing Threat Landscape
WannaCry was not the first cyberattack to get global headlines, but it is notable for its size, speed, and scale. That will not go unnoticed by various criminal elements. As ransomware and other types of attacks prove themselves to be low-risk and high-reward, waves of motivated cyber criminals will begin launching attacks of their own. Expect to see more investment and experimentation with the technologies that make these attacks possible.
To put this threat in context, consider that more than $3 billion
has been stolen from businesses over the past three years through email attacks alone. Increasingly, these attacks are targeted at specific companies and industries, with more than 400 scams estimated to be launched daily. The average ransom demand rose by almost $300 since last year, suggesting that hackers are being successful and encouraged to continue attacks and identify new attack strategies.
The threat landscape will likely expand past the criminal element to include a radical element, as well. With the rapid rise of the Internet of Things, there is an avalanche of connected devices in operation — all with little to no security protections in place. If a terrorist or fringe group wanted to cripple a piece of critical infrastructure, it would not take a massive amount of resources.
Staying Ahead of Tomorrow’s Threats
It can be chilling to imagine the consequences, but the real risk is in ignoring it.
Ensuring that a network is secure is a notoriously complex and uncertain process. That’s why it’s so important to focus on security strategies that provide expansive protection against both established and evolving threats.
There are myriad ways for your network to get infected: bad firewall configuration, USB corruption, website issues, and much more. But the vast majority of attacks come from malware that masquerades as ordinary email. Detecting and deflecting these malicious messages before they actually reach an inbox requires a multilayered approach. When the process is done well, however, it’s possible to neutralize the majority of threats before they actually present any problems.
Zix does great work to keep these threats at bay and eradicate them before they reach inboxes. But user education remains critically important, and so is having a remediation strategy.
Email security is a concern for all businesses. Zix is here to make it easy and economical to safeguard an enterprise inbox.