Cyber Security

Top 8 Cyber Security Threats

With all the changes and developments in the digital arena, as more devices are connected, we take a peek at 8 of the most pervasive cyber security threats.

Cyber security as an industry is amongst the fastest growing, with rapid and huge developments in the digital space. More and more people are realizing just how important data protection is, and are becoming more hip to the various cyber security threats out there. In this article, we take a look at 8 threats you’ll want to know about:

1. Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks are designed to exploit social interactions for the purpose of obtaining sensitive information. The primary component of any social engineering attack is deception. It is the objective of the cybercriminal to trick their victim into carry out specific actions, whether it be disclosing sensitive information or bypassing typical security protocols. Even the very best security systems are unable to prevent a social engineering attack, because it’s the actual victim that’s complicit in the hack. Current data suggests that social engineering attacks are continuing to rise, as more and more people take to cyber space.

2. Ransomware

Ransomware is basically a malicious file that is designed to limit access to a computer system or its data by encrypting its data or limiting that systems functions. The cybercriminal will then ask for a ransom before they release the system or decrypt the data they are holding hostage. The victim usually has a deadline to comply with their demands. If the victim fails to bow to the demands of the hackers, the hacker will either permanently delete the data, release the data into cyberspace or increase the current ransom demand.

3. Brute-force Attack

A brute-force attack is basically an aggressive hacker’s attack type, designed to obtain an unsuspecting victims password using a computer based trial and error program. The attack operates by using a wide variety of character and number combinations, which are passed into the password field, until they get a match. These brute-force attacks are only affective when the authentication protocols that exist for the target online system is in sync with that kind of attack. The cybercriminal has more chance of guessing the correct password when he/she has information about the user.

4. Crypto jacking

Crypto Jacking is another form of cyber-attack that involves the unauthorised use of victims devices (such as tablets, computers, smartphones and more) to mine for cryptocurrency. As with all cybercrimes the primary motivation is profit, but unlike other kinds of attacks, this one specifically, is designed to remain hidden from the victim.

In order to successfully mind for cryptocurrency, a considerable amount of CPU power is required, as a result, hackers are able to make money by piggybacking off the resources of the systems they’ve compromised. For a business, a crypto jacked system can cause serious performance problems, which could ground that company to a halt, resulting in the IT team having to track down the compromised system and remove the malicious code.

5. Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT or Internet of Things essentially is the process of connecting devices all over the world using the internet. With IoT you have sensors that are able to communicate, collect, analyse and act on information, offering both original and creative ways for media, technology and telecommunication businesses to be able to create their value, whether that’s creating new revenue streams, entirely new businesses, or delivering a new experience that is more effective and efficient for the consumer.

Because of the convenience, you find that many businesses and individuals look to take full advantage of IoT, but it’s the very thing that makes them useful, that also makes them equally as vulnerable. Hackers are able to exploit access points, in order to steal confidential data. As more and more companies shift over to IoT devices, many experts are now predicting that this will result in more cyber threats in the years to come.

Current projections puts the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) at around $1.1 trillion by the year 2026.

6. Cloud Vulnerabilities

As more and more companies opt for the cloud as a data storage choice, the risks to major data breaches heightens. Cloud storage services have their vulnerabilities to a number of cyber-attack types. This includes DoS or Denial of Service or Account Hijacking, which when done successfully prevents companies from accessing their own data. A lot of companies believe that they are at no risk, due to the various cloud security features that are touted. But the truth is, that all this technology, only works in part. This is because no technology is able to entirely remove vulnerabilities. For the most effective protection, a more robust approach must be taken. Having some form of insurance can be said to be a viable part of that protection process, as an integral part of any cyber risk management plan.

7. Outdated Hardware

When it comes to cyber security, not all of such threats are software related. With the constant advancements and improvements in software programs, at times, it can be difficult for the hardware to keep up. This can result in exploits which can put companies at risk. As the hardware of a system becomes obsolete, many updates, such as security patches etc., will no longer be applicable or accessible to those systems. However, older devices that use much older software are also equally vulnerable to cyber-attacks. It’s very important to keep tabs on things, so that you know when a device is outdated and needs to be upgraded. Just as you would keep all your software up-to-date, you should also look to do the same thing with your hardware.

8. Spyware & Keyloggers

Keyloggers are spyware programs that are designed to log keystrokes of users. Every key that is pressed by the unsuspecting victim, is logged and then sent to the hacker. For the hacker it’s only a matter of looking through all the data to find the more crucial information. Such as passwords and identity details etc. Keylogger software is typically installed on a computer or other device, when that user clicks on a link or downloads an attachment containing the virus.


Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website