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Cyberattacks on the Rise: Important Things You Need to Know

by | Mar 6, 2023 | Dystopia, Technology




The adoption of digital technology by both individuals and enterprises is increasing at an exponential rate. The number of connected devices, systems, vendors, people, and processes is only increasing. But this also creates a vast array of potential targets for cybercriminals.

More than 60% of the world’s population have internet access and a connected device, which is a good thing. But the increased connectivity makes it easier than ever before for attackers to access sensitive information, infiltrate systems or cause physical damage remotely.

Every digital interaction generates some kind of data that contains valuable information. As more and more data is stored digitally, every single organization and individual is becoming a target. Every single connected device is an entryway for a cyberattack. 

A simple click on a link in an email may seem harmless. But that one click can open the door for intruders. They can live inside your devices for a long period without you even noticing. And once the time is right, they strike, creating chaos and confusion.

Digital technology has become critical for running our modern societies but it has also given cybercriminals the tool to paralyze them in a matter of seconds. Picture this, your bank balance and secret data have been wiped out.

Outside, trains and airports aren’t running because the control rooms and computers have been knocked out. You can’t drive anywhere because all the traffic lights are red and there’s no internet because routers have been destabilized.

Within a matter of hours, your entire country plunges into chaos and you don’t even know who’s behind it. Cybercriminals are constantly looking for victims. They are refining new tools to break down computer security systems to launch their attacks. And lots of money is at stake.

In 2022, Australians lost around USD 336 million to online scammers. The same year, a WhatsApp data leak exposes the information of around 487 million users. And one of the most devasting cyber threats “ransomware” is estimated to have cost the world around USD 20 billion in damage.

The average cost of a data breach is USD 4.35 million. And human errors are often the culprits for these breaches. Cyberattacks are an increasing risk for individuals, institutions, and businesses of all sizes.

From hacking personal devices to widespread ransomware, cybercriminals target every connected technology. Around the world, cybercrime is on the rise. And with infrastructure turning smart in this hyperconnected world, the threat cyberattacks pose will only grow. Hence what is a cyber-attack?

Cyberattack definition

Cyberattacks are malicious attempts to access, disrupt, or destroy a computer system or its data. It occurs when someone tries to gain unauthorized access to information systems, steal data or cause damage.

Cyberattacks can happen anywhere and they can be conducted by a single person or a group of people. These people, known as cybercriminals, typically operate online and work independently or as part of a larger criminal organization.

They are becoming increasingly common as technology advances and more people rely on digital systems to store and manage information. Digital attacks can have devastating consequences for individuals, businesses, and governments alike.

As such, it is important to be aware of the different types of cyber-attacks and the most common ones are:

  • Malware – is malicious software that attempts to damage or disable a computer system. It can be installed or downloaded and often take different forms, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and spyware.
  • Denial of service attacks (DoS) – is an act of crippling or disrupting a service or computer network. Its goal is to prevent the targeted network from providing its services.
  • Phishing – is a type of cyberattack that involves sending fraudulent mail to trick someone into revealing personal data such as their login credentials, bank account numbers, or other sensitive information.
  • Ransomware – involves locking users out of their computers until they pay a ransom to the attacker. Once the ransom is paid, the user’s computer is unlocked.
  • Social engineering – is a type of attack in which a person is tricked or persuaded into performing an action they would not otherwise take like revealing their password. It is a manipulation of people through their emotions, relationships, and attitudes.
  • Keylogger – is a piece of software that records all the keystrokes that are typed on a keyboard. This information can be used to steal passwords and other confidential information.
  • Brute force – is a computer attack in which an attacker tries every possible combination of password characters to gain access to a system or account.
  • Spoofing – is a type of cyberattack where the attacker pretends to be someone else to trick the recipient.

A cyberattack is a deliberate attack on computer systems. These attacks are often characterized by their malicious intent and the scale of damage they can cause to computers, data, applications, and networks.

Cyberattack is an attempt to take advantage of various vulnerabilities of individuals or in the information systems they target. This type of attack can have detrimental consequences for a business and individuals and can even disrupt national infrastructure.

Cyberattacks are becoming more common posing a serious threat to both public and private sector entities but why?

Why there is a rise in cyberattacks?

Cyberattacks are on the rise, and the reasons behind this increase are manifold. With the increasing prevalence of digital technology and internet usage, it has become easier for hackers to gain access to sensitive information and cause disruption.

Moreover, advances in technology have enabled hackers to launch sophisticated attacks that can be difficult to detect and defend against. This has led to a significant rise in the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks over the last few years.

Cyberattacks are on the rise and the two most important reasons for that are:

  • They are becoming easy to carry out
  • They are effective

From a lack of adequate security measures to people’s willingness to provide data, there is no shortage of explanations for why cybercrimes are becoming more frequent. Cyberattacks are a primary risk factor for every entity entailing the handling of sensitive or confidential information online.

Increasing connectivity and online activity, as well as cybercriminals’ growing sophistication and willingness to target organizations and their underlying infrastructure, have all led to an increase in cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks are not new, but what has changed is their sophistication and popularity among criminals. We are living in the age of big data, which means that cybercriminals are after your data to make money by stealing your identity, asking for ransom, or selling your credit card information.

In the United States alone, the average cost of a data breach is USD 7.91 million. It is estimated that 76% of IT security breaches are motivated by money. In addition to financial gain, there are other reasons why cybercriminals target an entity such as:

  • To steal sensitive information such as trade secrets or other intellectual property. 
  • To launch Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks against their competitors.
  • Or even just because they can!

Cyberattacks are a fact of life in the digital age. They can be used to steal valuable data or disrupt businesses. It is estimated that cybercrime cost the global economy about USD 600 billion a year.

Furthermore, the sheer volume of devices connected to the internet, known as the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly collecting and storing a large amount of user data. This growing trend of interconnected devices and systems can be accessed and exploited by hackers.

Internet of things devices is a potential target for hackers because they are often poorly protected which makes them vulnerable to attack or sabotage. Also, these devices are often connected to other devices and systems, creating a potential pathway for malware to spread throughout a network.

Hackers can even target the least protected device to gain access to the entire system. Increased connectivity through mobile devices and IoT makes it easier for hackers to access personal information, this is why mobile malware cyberattacks have risen by 500% at the start of 2022.

Smartphone malware is on the rise just like social media users. More than half of the world’s population has at least one social media account. Most of us are openly providing personal information to these platforms.

For instance, a breach at Facebook resulted in 533 million phone numbers and personal data being leaked online. The company Meta was fined USD 276 million for the incident. Hackers are constantly refining their methods. And it’s getting harder to detect these cyberthreats and defend against them.

Cybercrimes are a growing threat to businesses, governments, and individuals. They can take many forms, from ransomware to data breaches and identity theft. For instance, global ransomware damage is expected to exceed USD 265 billion by 2031.

The rapid growth of the internet, social media and connected devices have made it easier for cybercriminals to access sensitive information, target businesses, and launch attacks. The increasing frequency of cyberattacks is partly due to their success rate.

Technological advancement is growing at an exponential rate. Devices are becoming smaller, more powerful, and cheaper, which is a good thing. More people have access to technology and it brings a lot of ease. However, it also brings some threats.

The frequency and severity of cyberattacks are increasing due to the sophistication of the technology used by cybercriminals. Hackers have access to advance technology to carry out cybercrime.

What’s even worst is that hackers are very intelligent and skillful computer technicians meaning they are very agile with technology compared to average people. They can easily find ways to access sensitive data without having to break through complex firewalls or encryption codes.

Cybercriminals can cause a lot of damage that can be very difficult to fix. They also cause a lot of embarrassment to the victims. As a result, individuals and organizations need to understand the risks associated with online activities and the impact of cyberattacks.

Impact of cyberattacks

Cyberattacks are the biggest threat to businesses and individuals today. It is a deliberate attack on computer systems and networks by hackers, who aim to steal information or disrupt access to services.

Cyberattacks can be physical or virtual. Physical attacks include theft of information from equipment such as laptops or portable storage devices (USB drives). Virtual attacks include unauthorized access attempts, denial-of-service attacks, and malware attacks. Cyberattacks can take many forms such as:

  • Malicious software where viruses and malware are used for criminal purposes.
  • Phishing scams where fraudulent emails are sent in an attempt to trick people into sharing private information.
  • Remote access tools provide users with a means of accessing computer systems from another location.
  • DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) is when a large number of computers are used to send traffic to a target over a period of time, causing the target to become overwhelmed.

In all cases, once you’re on the list of possible targets, the likelihood of being hit again and again until the attacker is no longer interested in trying your system again increases. The growth of internet usage has made it possible for malicious actors to reach more people and cause more damage.

Malicious software is often spread through email attachments or downloaded from websites infected with malware. Once you click an attachment containing malware, it can infect your device and allow hackers access to your data

According to a report, phishing threats are on the rise and consist of 76% of all email attacks. In 2021, 91% of UK organizations were compromised by an email phishing attack. It is estimated that nearly 80% of organizations saw an email-based ransomware attack in 2021.

Cyberattacks often occur when hackers steal the credentials of individuals and organizations. They then use these credentials to access computers or steal sensitive data or disrupt an organization’s operations.

The global cost of cybercrime topped USD 6 trillion in 2021. If cybercrime were measured as an economy, it would be the third largest economy in the world after the United States and China with USD 20.94 trillion and USD 14.72 trillion respectively and Japan will be fourth at USD 5.05 trillion.

Cyber-attacks have increased by 38% in 2022 compared to 2021. Email address is the basic requirement of today’s digital world and 91% of cyberattacks begin with phishing emails. It is estimated that ransomware hit every 40 seconds.

The impacts of a cyberattack on individuals and organizations are not always clear but they are many. And it can have major economic and emotional effects. In today’s world, every institution is interconnected with computer systems, a cyberterrorist could redirect transactions and steal large sums of money.

For instance, if an attack were to take place in an organization:

  • The company could collapse
  • Employees could lose their jobs
  • Confidential information could be exposed
  • Operations could slow down
  • This could damage the entity’s reputation

Even a day of disruption could result in investor withdrawals and erode public confidence. The costs associated with a breach are the most obvious but the broader impact is difficult to measure.

For example, damage to a company’s trade name or intellectual property is nearly impossible to quantify and operational disruption can have an even bigger impact. The effects of cyberattacks are largely interrelated.

While IT personnel can deal with the technical side of an attack, average staff usually neglect cybersecurity measures. This results in a range of effects and these losses can undermine future growth and threaten business continuity.

It is estimated that 1 in 4 employees falls victim to cyberattacks and lost their jobs. The consequences of a successful IT attack are very costly and downtime means lost profits for businesses. A business can also lose sales due to degraded system functionality.

Additionally, concerned customers can cancel orders. These negative effects can have an impact on future growth and business continuity. Being hacked can disrupt everyday life and negatively impact key services as well as undermine the internal morale of organizations.

Researchers have noted the consequences of cyberattacks can result in reputational damage and shame. Reputation damage can cause consumer distrust and push them to switch to another company.

The level of severity of cyberthreats varies greatly and the damage incurred can be very large. If successful, it can affect the livelihoods of workers and communities. It is estimated that one in six adults fell victim to cybercrime.

So, while its consequences may be severe, the motives of the attackers are very varied. In the end, they all have a goal in mind. The motivations to engage in cyber attacks range from financial gain to revenge, recognition, power, and political beliefs.

Regardless of the motivations behind cyberattacks, the threats posed by these types of attacks are very real. The use of cloud solutions has widened the business universe and created a large attack surface for hackers.

In 2021, over 22 billion records were exposed and online fraud hits USD 25 billion. It is estimated that over 165 billion records could be stolen over the next five years. And global ransomware damage could reach USD 30 billion in 2023.

Challenges of stopping cyberattacks

Cyberattacks have become an increasingly common threat to businesses and individuals alike. With the rise of the digital world and technological advancement, cybercriminals are becoming more innovative and keep finding new ways to gain access to our data and cause disruption.

While there are numerous benefits associated with the internet, it has opened up a world of potential risks. One of the biggest challenges with cyberattacks is that they can be difficult to detect and prevent.

As cybercriminals become more sophisticated in their tactics, it is becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to protect themselves from these threats. Additionally, as technology continues to evolve, so do the methods used by attackers. This can make it even more difficult for organizations to stay ahead of them.

What makes matter worst is that everything can easily propagate on the internet. Once something is uploaded, an infinite amount of copies can be created and sent. Everything can easily be copied or downloaded.

One of the challenges of cyberattacks is that they can be difficult to detect. This is because hackers often use techniques such as malware, phishing, and social engineering. This means that they can be very subtle and difficult to recognize.

For instance, a phishing email is only created once but can be sent to hundreds of thousands of people or even millions. Meaning it is extremely easy to target a large number of people online. And people get busted with a simple benign click.

Moreover, finding the source of the threat is extremely difficult. Since the internet creates this big global connected web, the perpetrator can be someone on the other side of the world. Meaning it’s hard to prosecute them.

It is difficult for an investigator to find perpetrators after they committed the crime because hackers can easily hide from authorities by using sophisticated methods and technology. They can easily hide their identities and locations, and there are infinite places they can hide after the act.

Sophisticated hackers can cover their digital traces, making it almost impossible to successfully prosecute cyber criminals who are located outside of the country. It’s already difficult to successfully prosecute a cybercriminal originating in the same jurisdiction as the victim, now imagine if both reside in different parts of the world.

Furthermore, our legal system was created centuries ago, before the invention of computers. We’ve refined centuries of laws over time to address basic crimes that almost everyone understands, such as murder, kidnapping, trafficking, theft, etc…

Because it’s difficult to prove someone is guilty of a crime without evidence that they committed it, we rely on tangible clues such as fingerprints and weapons of crime. A seemingly minuscule clue can lead to an arrest and conviction.

Although money laundering can be difficult to prosecute because jurors have a hard time following a circuitous accounting trail, if an investigator can provide enough evidence that someone committed tax fraud then they may get a conviction.

In a world with physical evidence, our legal system has thrived. Our legal system was originally developed to prosecute physical crimes, but with technological advancement, crimes have become more complex, and it becomes more difficult to present evidence in court.

Cybercrime is not even three decades old compare to our current justice system which has been refined for centuries. Computer crime lives few clues behind, there’s almost no physical evidence and it can take a while before someone notices they have been hacked.

You can’t charge someone for a crime if the action hasn’t been defined as a criminal act before. Even if a prosecutor successfully collects good legal evidence and even verifies the identity and location of a cybercriminal, there’s no legal ability to arrest them if the criminal is abroad.

The prosecutor has to establish cross-boundary rules, but many countries don’t participate. That’s why it’s important for laws to be updated so that we can keep up with the latest technology. It is estimated that the likelihood of prosecuting a cyber crime is as low as 0.05% in the United States.

The cybercrime landscape is more complicated than it seems. It is a pervasive problem, and few law enforcement resources are available to fight it. There are too many cybersecurity incidents, and law enforcement resources are insufficient to keep up with the crime.

Cybercriminals can operate from anywhere in the world, and jurisdictional boundaries prevent them from being prosecuted. Moreover, most internet crimes go unreported because most people have no idea where or how to report such crimes, and if they do report them, rarely does anything come of it.

One of the biggest problems with cybercrime is that many businesses are reluctant to admit they’ve been hacked. It makes them look bad, and it can affect their operation. Cyberattacks can be very disruptive and can cause significant reputational damage to businesses and individuals.

With so much money to be made and so little chance of being caught, cybercrime is likely to thrive in the future. In fact, the number of cyberthreats is on the rise, with phishing attacks increasing by more than 61% in 2022 with 225 million attacks detected.

Cyberattacks are increasing and becoming more costly for organizations. It is estimated that a ransomware attack takes place every 11 seconds and its cost is expected to reach USD 265 billion by 2031.

The increasing sophistication of hackers and skills at evading the detection of traditional security systems is making it harder to tackle this calamity. This is due in part to the proliferation of malware kits available for sale on underground forums and in other online marketplaces.

It also makes it easier for novice hackers to launch attacks on businesses and individuals alike. And in an era where data is the currency of business, it’s not a surprise that cybercriminals are always looking for ways to steal information or money from organizations.

Cyberattacks are a growing threat to businesses and individuals. They can take many forms and can have serious consequences for the victims. As more people have access to the internet and use it for work, communicate, transact, entertain, find love, and play, the risk of being hacked is increasing,

Final words

Public institutions, the corporate world, and our private lives have become so dependent on the Internet that we cannot go a day without being connected. We have created a parallel world on the internet. But just like there are bad actors in the real world, there are bad actors on the internet.

The threat from a cyberattack is not only global but also highly destructive and can result in the loss of personal information and financial resources. The attacks can also involve the theft of personal funds and social media accounts.

Cyberattacks can take many forms, from phishing emails to ransomware attacks, and they can have devastating consequences for entities that are not prepared. It is increasingly important for businesses to stay ahead of the curve to protect their data and networks.

As a result, organizations need to remain vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity and regularly update their systems with the latest security measures. With the increasing number of cyberattacks and the importance of data security, it is essential to have a cybersecurity plan in place.

As organizations continue to collect more information online and people willingness to provide more data, we are all becoming more susceptible to online attacks. Organizations and individuals need to take proactive steps toward protecting themselves from such threats.