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The 7 Most Common Attack Vectors in 2024

Cyber Threat

With the rapid onset of new technological capabilities, cyberattacks are a very real threat to any modern business. After all, as more businesses implement new technologies into their business, cyber attackers gain more new targets to try their hand at.

According to the UK Government, 11% of businesses experienced a cyberattack in 2023. With this, making sure that you’re prepared for any potential cyber-attacks is vital. Part of this is knowing what you’re up against — so you can make sure your defences are tight and that you’re ready in case you become a target.

In this article, we’re going to go over the seven most common attack vectors that cyber attackers will take advantage of to try to target your business, so you can ensure that you thoroughly know them and be prepared to protect your business.

Attack Vector 1: Phishing

Phishing is a social engineering attack that uses unsuspecting victims to gain credentials. This is quite a common attack both in everyday life and towards businesses specifically, with nearly 22% of all cyber attacks that occur being phishing attacks.

Attackers will pretend to be a person or an organisation, forging communications to appear as someone they’re not. They will try to prey on those who aren’t educated on the risk of phishing attacks and other attacks — and will attack those who are less tech-savvy to try to get the upper hand on those who have no real chance of fighting back.

The best way of protecting yourself from phishing attacks is to educate yourself against them. By knowing what to look out for, and all of the tricks that phishing attackers use — and where they fall short — you’ll be able to identify these attacks with ease. This includes imitation of official channels — where, for example, an Amazon attack would use an email such as support@AMAZ0N.com to appear legitimate — and forgery of official graphics and communications.

Attack Vector 2: DDoS Attacks

A dedicated denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an attack that makes your service inaccessible, usually by overloading your servers by repeatedly loading pages to the point where nobody else can access them.

DDoS attacks are usually big news when they happen — they cause outages and downtime and are generally a nuisance for everyone involved. Google themselves have stated that DDoS attacks are only getting worse and that in 2023 they had to mitigate the largest DDoS attack ever.

A DDoS attack uses bots to automate this process and replicate it lots of times — to create a mass service denial. A great solution to this problem exists — the captcha. This means that anyone suspicious — or anyone who tries to do certain things on your business’ front-facing webspace — will have to do a puzzle to confirm that they are not a bot.

Services like Azure DDoS Protection and Cloudflare exist to combat this — using captchas and other methods to protect organisations from DDoS attacks. 

Attack Vector 3: Third-Party Vulnerabilities

Third-party vulnerabilities are exploits that exist within third-party applications that attackers will use to gain access to organisations that are using said service. This means that, by using whatever service or application that has a vulnerability, your organisation has a gaping hole in its security posture.

There isn’t a lot that you can do about the actual vulnerability — as the responsibility is on the organisation that provides the application or service to patch it. However, you must keep your applications and services up to date to ensure that you’re getting all the latest patches and keeping your organisation tight and protected.

Sticking with tools created by reputable organisations such as Microsoft will let you ensure that you aren’t using tools created by a developer that lets these kinds of vulnerabilities go unpatched.

Attack Vector 4: IoT Exploits

The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is the name given to all of the devices inside your organisation. From printers to security cameras to routers — all of these devices have their own requirements and sometimes have their own vulnerabilities.

Much like third-party vulnerabilities, IoT exploits are avoidable by ensuring to keep your hardware’s firmware updated, as well as buying from reputable companies and vendors. However, using firewalls and other security tools will help keep your organisation protected from people trying to get in through these kinds of devices.

It’s critical to ensure that you’re not just putting any devices into your network — thorough research to ensure that you’re aware of everything about any device that goes into your organisation’s network will help ensure that your organisation isn’t hit with any IoT exploits.

Attack Vector 5: Insider Threats

The information inside of your organisation is only as secure as the people who have access to it. With this being said, sometimes a threat forms from inside of your organisation — which can be catastrophic.

The best way to deal with this is to ensure that you limit the amount of information that you give to employees. The best way of this is the ‘principle of least privilege’ — the idea that people only have access to the information they need to carry out their role, meaning that everyone is only able to access the information that they’re entrusted with.

Attack Vector 6: Ransomware

Ransomware attacks exist to try to extort organisations out of money, usually by stealing data and then destroying or denying access to said data to try to disrupt regular operations as much as possible. This multi-faceted attack is also known as a double extortion attack, as it not only aims to disrupt but also to steal data to try to extract as much value out of the attack as possible.

The most important thing about ransomware attacks is that they are usually simply for financial gain — and that the attackers will do whatever they can to turn the attack into value. This means that there are a few different ways to ensure that you can mitigate a ransomware attack — either stopping the data from becoming accessible (such as encryptions) or ensuring that you have alternative ways to access your data (using backups and disaster recovery plans). 

This protects you from both ends of the double extortion attack, as encrypting your data means that even if they have it, they won’t be able to sell your data in the event of an attack. But, you can also get your organisation back up and running using your backups — meaning you don’t have to negotiate with attackers.

However, other methods exist to stop these kinds of attacks too. Due to the nature of the attack, ransomware attacks can be stopped by security tools — they commonly use attack surfaces that can be protected against using modern industry-standard security tools such as access control and antivirus tools.

Attack Vector 7: AI-Powered Attacks

Artificial intelligence is the headline new technology of the 2020s, and cyber attackers are taking advantage of it to the extreme. Most of the attacks above are only exasperated by the use of AI, which makes these attacks far stronger than usual. AI makes cyberattacks more intelligent, more scalable, and far more difficult to deal with.

However, this isn’t without the benefit of artificial intelligence for organisations too. Organisations like Microsoft are using artificial intelligence in their security tools to be able to counter attacks more intelligently than ever before — by utilising AI to make your organisation stronger and more secure, you can easily ensure that you’re prepared for this new generation of cyber attacks.

Despite this, the most important step is getting prepared now. With MIT’s Technology Review saying that in 2021, 91% of their respondents said they were getting prepared to face this new generation of AI-powered cyberattacks  — it’s more important than ever to do so now.

However, AI also brings some new challenges — with deepfakes and disinformation looming around the corner. While the technology isn’t quite there yet, MIT says that 56% of attacks will be based on misinformation and that 43% of attacks will be deepfakes — both of which are new threats that the world has never had to face.

How we can help

At the end of the day, your organisation’s cybersecurity is critical. By ensuring that you’re protected and have everything in place to keep your organisation secure, you’ll be able to mitigate and withstand attacks and ensure your business’s longevity and prosperity.

These attack vectors are the most common attack vectors, and any modern business needs to make sure that they’re aware of them to be able to stamp them out before they wreak havoc on your organisation.

If you need a helping hand getting started in fighting against cyberattacks, reach out to us today. We’ll be able to ensure that you have everything that you need to protect yourself against this new generation of cyberattacks and provide a helping hand along the way to patch up any vulnerabilities in your security posture.

Get in touch with us now and see how we can help you.