Weak and Stolen Credentials
Compromised passwords are a common cause of data breaches. Many users rely on common phrases for passwords, or reuse passwords between different accounts. Attackers can easily compromise these passwords and once they obtain one, they gain access to multiple accounts owned by the same user.
Organizations must enforce strong password policies, and enforce multi-factor authentication for all sensitive systems and data. Many organizations are transitioning to passwordless authentication, which eliminates the serious security risks associated with weak passwords.
At some point, most software products will experience a security vulnerability that exposes them to cyber attacks. Software vendors regularly discover vulnerabilities, or are informed about them by security researchers, and attempt to remediate them before criminals can exploit them.
Whenever a vulnerability is fixed, the software vendor releases a patch or new version. This patch must be applied as soon as possible by all organizations using the software, as well as their employees and third-party vendors, because attackers will actively seek users who have not yet applied the patch.
Many employees have access to sensitive information, and there is always the possibility that one of them will try to misuse it. Malicious insiders can have different motives, including financial gain, emotional challenges, or a desire for revenge.
Insider threats are extremely difficult to detect using traditional security techniques, because malicious insiders have legitimate access to corporate systems. However, new security technologies such as behavioral analysis make it possible to identify suspicious behavior by existing user accounts, which may indicate an insider threat.
Malware is malicious software that attackers attempt to deploy on a target system, usually via social engineering (tricking users into clicking malicious links or attachments) or by exploiting software vulnerabilities. Malware can compromise credentials or steal data from a victim’s device, encrypt and destroy files on the device, or do other types of damage. Many types of malware can spread rapidly to infect an entire network or environment.
Social engineering is an attempt by an external attacker to trick users into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that violate security policies. A vast majority of cyber attacks leverage social engineering, because users are typically the weakest link of an organization’s cybersecurity defenses. Social engineering techniques include phishing, baiting, pretexting, and scareware.