In the era of digitalization, private data is one of the most valuable resources not only for marketers but also for fraudsters. Nowadays, corporate databases are much more at risk than the information we store on our PCs. Customers’ personal data, credit card numbers, purchase history, physical addresses, and cell phone numbers – all of that can be bought and sold on the Darknet. According to Symantec Corporation, 12 billion personal data records were stolen by cybercriminals in 2018 alone. The company’s analysts estimate that the US will account for more than half of all data theft incidents by 2023.
Here, we’ll be discussing four major digital security threats and ways of countering them.
#1 Insecure Cloud Services
Cloud services are a useful and economically feasible solution both for individuals and organizations. The biggest cloud storage providers offer their clients better security and affordable prices. Using this technology, corporations can save lots of money as they do not require to install and maintain their own servers. Cloud services, however, are more centralized in the sense that all the data is stored in the same physical location. Consequently, it becomes a very attractive target for hackers.
Another possible concern is that the security level of cloud storage providers varies from service to service. Business-to-Business (B2B) solutions like Microsoft OneDrive have better encryption algorithms and provide their users with a more secure authorization process. They also run frequent security system audits to add another layer of security.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) solutions (like Dropbox and Google Drive) are cheaper and sometimes provide their services free of charge. By using unreliable security algorithms, they leave themselves vulnerable to hacker attacks and risk compromising their customers’ data. As a result, your personal photos, scans of documents or credit card numbers could be stolen with the help of advanced hacker software.
How Do You Safeguard Yourself Against Possible Threats?
If you want to prevent yourself from data theft, you should consider encrypting your personal files before uploading them to a cloud service. Save the encryption key on a USB drive or external HDD that is not connected to the Internet. You should also avoid uploading your corporate data to B2C services.
#2 DRM-Like Malware
The majority of antiviruses have a constantly updated database of malware signatures. They simply block any activity that contains malicious elements in its source code. Thus, hackers have to circumvent the protection mechanism by creating customized viruses.
DRM or Digital Right Management systems are another possible target for cybercriminals. The said technology makes it possible to encrypt files so they can only be opened on a machine with a unique ID (e.g., a MAC-address). For example, certain online shops sell books and films that can be played only on their buyers’ operating systems.
Malware creators use that copyright protection mechanism to disguise infected binary code and get access to a particular device. In other words, these DRM-like viruses use unique identifiers to bypass protection barriers.
As a result, antivirus developers have a hard time identifying and eliminating digital threats like these. It will be impossible for them to extract a sample of infected code for analysis and put it in quarantine. Some of the suchlike viruses get embedded in audio and video files. The most blatant example of it involves hackers infiltrating Windows PCs using Extended Copy Protection (XCP) and MediaMax CD-3 software developed by Sony.
What Can You Do to Avoid Being Infected?
Both customers and companies should pay extra attention to the antivirus software they use. It is also a good idea to check if your antimalware program offers behavioral protection. That way you can stop any DRM-like malicious software from taking full control of your system
#3 Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to sabotage any web resource is to execute a DDoS attack. The idea behind is pretty simple — hackers use several (sometimes hundreds) devices to simultaneously access a database or website. The impact of DDoS attacks is not that adverse and does not entail data leakage or security breach.
However, it can still cause a web resource to be temporarily inaccessible. Though DDoS attacks do not result in the theft of your data, they can block your personal or corporate email server by incorrectly redirecting incoming and outgoing emails.
DDoS attacks are more expensive and less effective than other digital threats. Those who launch them are unable to access your data and can only stop your business from operating normally. Therefore, the chances of being hit by a DDoS attack are pretty small for individual users. Statistically, it is small and medium-sized businesses that often fall victim to distributed denial of service attacks.
Which Preventive Steps Can Be Taken?
DDoS attacks can be prevented by installing and configuring a firewall. It is advisable to block potentially dangerous sources and create a whitelist of trusted ones. For more advanced protection, you should seek the assistance of companies specializing in providing digital security services.
#4 Malicious Mobile Apps
The rapid development of mobile operating systems resulted in the exponential growth of mobile malware. According to Statista.com, the number of Android malware detections has risen from 13 million in 2016 to 26 million in 2018. Android users are not the only ones who are at risk — iPhone users are also vulnerable to malware software.
Some mobile apps rely on SSL and TLS network encryption protocols, thus leaving themselves vulnerable to MID (Man-in-the-Middle) attacks. However, a much bigger threat for mobile users comes from downloading apps from unreliable sources.
They can be dedicated to various topics, such as software development, entertainment or the essay writing. Some of them offer free versions of popular apps without charging a penny for that. Usually, mobile applications you download from those websites are infected with viruses that can change your phone’s settings and steal your personal data.
What Should You Do?
First of all, avoid unlocking your phone. Android users should refrain from getting root permissions, even if some apps may require it. iPhone owners shouldn’t jailbreak their devices or install any suspicious programs. There are a lot of tips on how to implement mobile device management (MDV) on the Internet, so why not check them out?