Autumn is here and with it, pumpkins, Halloween, and scary movies. And despite the horrors that accompany the season, for many people, nothing is more terrifying than … cybersecurity risks.
In fact, among US executives, literally nothing is more frightening than cyberattacks. According to a survey by PwC this year, 40% of executives considered cyberattacks to be their top business risk. With some research suggesting the average breach could cost nearly $10 million, it's no wonder cybersecurity concerns are so scary.
In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we've decided to break down some of the chilling threats facing business leaders, as well as spotlight stats from a recent iboss and Forrester research survey of cybersecurity pros.
From professional Russian hackers to simple-but-dangerous human error, here are the horrors keeping business leaders up at night.
Ransomware's Villain is Back
Spooky stat from cyber pros: Nearly two-thirds (63%) of security pros say an increasing number of ransomware incidents are driving their cybersecurity decisions.
Just like Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and Jason Voorhees, who always come back from the dead, one of the most notorious ransomware villains was "gone" for a moment but is back with a vengeance.
The ransomware resurgence was headlined by the resurrection of the notorious operation REvil. Most known for its high-profile attack on Kaseya that paralyzed as many as 1,500 organizations, REvil gave businesses and cybersecurity professionals nightmares for years. Then, suddenly in 2021, REvil dropped offline. At the time, the reasons it shuttered were unclear, with some suggesting its members had been arrested. However, earlier this year, amid rising tensions between Russia and the US, REvil announced its triumphant return.
Armed with new infrastructure and resources enabling the organization to carry out more targeted attacks, REvil is a boogeyman for companies of all sizes.
Digital Transformation, Remote Work & The Great Unknown
Spooky stat from cyber pros: Two-thirds (66%) have difficulty monitoring user activity in remote/hybrid settings and 60% admit they have difficulty protecting a remote workforce.
We all fear change … and maybe rightfully so.
The last several years have given rise to organizations rapidly accelerating their digital transformation, driven in part by the long-term adoption of remote and hybrid work. To help ensure remote workforces are remaining connected and productive, companies have adopted new technology and practices. In a startlingly short period of time, many businesses have implemented multicloud environments, countless productivity apps, Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices, VPNs, and much more.
With more devices in more places accessing more company data and resources, attack surfaces have become larger than ever. As a result, the majority of cybersecurity professionals admit they have less visibility into user activity in remote settings.
All of these factors combined add up to increased cybersecurity risks for organizations that have embraced digital transformation and modern workplaces.
Human Error: The Killer You Know
Spooky stat from cyber pros: Nearly three-quarters (74%) of cyber pros say protecting their network from insider threats is a top strategic priority this year.
In many horror films, it turns out that the killer is someone the audience already knows, making them harder to spot and nearly impossible to stop. When it comes to cybersecurity, often "the call is coming from inside the house," with many incidents caused by company employees and the result of simple human error.
Unfortunately, this type of human error is chillingly common. In fact, in a recent survey, 84% of IT leaders said that human error was the top cause of serious incidents. Human error even led to some of the most notable recent cyber incidents on record, including those that befell Capital One and Equifax. A postmortem of the Equifax incident found that the breach likely could have been prevented if an employee had installed simple software fixes as directed.
Escalating Cyber Conflict May Have Nuclear Consequences
Spooky stat from cyber pros: There's no spooky stat for this one. It's too spooky.
At the outset of the war in Ukraine, many experts also thought that the invasion would quickly lead to all-out global cyber warfare. Fortunately, to date, many of those cyberwar predictions have not come true.
However, as Russia sustains losses on the battlefield and ramps up its rhetoric, fears of an escalation in global cyberwar suddenly carry alarming, nuclear consequences. In Ukraine, Russia has already carried out multiple cyber offensives against a nuclear power plant, sparking international fears of a catastrophic meltdown.
Additionally, the Russian government has also essentially admitted to working with hacking groups, the likes of which have been tied to attacks on critical American nuclear infrastructure and weapons agencies in the past.
Despite all the cybersecurity horrors that lurk under the bed, there is still hope. More organizations are embracing modern cybersecurity solutions and architectures designed to prevent the very threats we've laid out. If organizations continue to take threats seriously and improve their security posture, there's a good chance we can all make it through the spooky season together.