News & Articles

Five current cyber threats to business and how to stay ahead of the cybercriminals

Five current cyber threats to business and how to stay ahead of the cybercriminals

The threat of cybercrime in the constantly shifting technology world is no longer that – simply a “threat”.
29 February, 2024

Businesses must be on their digital guard at all times; not just safeguarding and protecting data, hardware, and a multitude of systems, but ready to deal with the aftermath if the security walls are infiltrated when even the strongest walls take a hit. And the smartest advice when bolstering defences is having a cyber insurance policy, which can protect you and your business from the most brutal of cybercrimes. 

Awareness plays a huge part in the war against cyber-attacks, so here’s the top five cyber threats that organisations need to know about in 2024.

  1. Ransomware remains under attack

    Ransomware (a malicious, digital endeavour that means your own people can’t access systems or data, so literally holding your digital estate to ransom) continues to be a major threat – and not just to large corporations. As we write, cybercriminals are utilising smarter strategies, and businesses need to be twice as smart at updating and patching systems. One common entry point for ransomware rogues is via phishing scams. And as AI continues to push the boundaries of how to fool and mimic (see number 4 for further insight), phishing attacks are less easy to spot. It’s more important than ever that staff are constantly reminded, educated, and tested on how to spot and report phishing attempts and know a suspicious link from a safe one.

  2. Supply chain weaknesses

    Interconnected supply chains when they work, keep the commercial world producing, moving, and supplying at a super-speedy pace, but our dependence on this series of links can also open up fresh routes for cyber threats and crime. It’s therefore imperative that businesses conduct stringent and regular checks and balances on the cybersecurity measures of partners and suppliers in the chain. After all, a business is only as strong as its weakest link, so any security infiltrations, or even an alert, can have a catastrophic effect for all those in the chain. 

  3. Cloud security issues

    The Cloud has been a wonderful thing in many ways. This limitless digital storage space seemed the answer to limited memory storage on systems and devices. And when in safe hands, remains an eternal safeguard for everything from family photos to masses of organisational data. But for every technological milestone, there are serious challenges that need to be considered – and for the Cloud, that’s maintaining watertight protection and security. We wouldn’t be mentioning this here if it wasn’t an ongoing issue (the daily headlines about large-scale data breaches and theft back this up) so as an antidote to possible “cloud-busting” by cybercriminals, we advise the strongest security protocols possible. This commonly encompasses multi-factor authentication, the encryption of sensitive data and information, and regularly reviewing access permissions.

  4. Artificial intelligence (AI)

    AI is no longer just a futuristic movie concept – it’s in our daily lives and part of our regular ways of working. And if it’s commonplace, the likelihood of misuse and associated risk also increases. The two words we hear often in relation to AI and possible problems are “threat actors”. These are people, or entities, who act with the sole purpose of disrupting and causing harm to digital devices and systems. When we read and hear about infiltration, impersonation, and wholesale identity theft and “deep fakes”, it’s related to the less savoury implications of AI. These “skills” are the drivers behind successful phishing attacks and the most skilled of these actors can bypass even the most robust security systems. Which is why continued investment in the toughest cybersecurity should be a financial and operational priority. 

  5. Internet of Things (IoT) susceptibilities

    It’s not just supply chain security that has both the power to connect and disrupt business operations. Every smart device – from a mobile phone to an entire factory floor – has the potential to connect and command. Commonly referred to as the IoT, the closer the relationship between objects, the more chance there is of a cyber-attack. Every business therefore has a responsibility to assess, update, and secure all devices that are part of the IoT landscape, ensuring there are no weaknesses.

Finally, we’d strongly urge you to be aware of insider threats. While it is often external forces that present the potential for most harm, you shouldn’t ignore the possibility of malicious intent by one of your own. And the best way to negate for this is regular and robust security sweeps, a programme of cybersecurity education, and implementing measures that can track employees’ digital activity.

The current digital outlook is both exciting and a little bit worrying – so much is now possible. By remaining educated about cybersecurity while strengthening the digital barricades, businesses can put a stronger ring of steel around their assets, ensuring a more cyber-safe future. And the last word has to be to consider a cyber insurance policy – it may be the best form of futureproofing that your business can invest in.

This article comes courtesy of Howden – an expert insurance group that does things differently – offering flexible, high-quality cover and reassuringly straightforward service, while using insurance as a tool to increase resilience. United by a no-limits mindset, Howden is a powerful and passionate team, rising to any challenge to do right by your business.