Cyber Resilience

5 Cybersecurity Threats to Protect Against

Cybersecurity threats are prolific and constant – hardly a day passes without news of another cyberattack.  

Organizations and their security teams are up against potentially devastating cyberthreats each day. But it's hard to provide protection for threats you don’t even know exist.  

Are you prepared?  

Read this article for an in-depth discussion of: 

  • What cybersecurity threats are and where they comes from. 
  • The five most-common types of threats organizations experience. 
  • How Zero Trust Segmentation provides protection when cyberthreats inevitably infiltrate the network. 

What are cybersecurity threats? 

A cybersecurity threat is the potential of a malicious act that causes an unwanted impact on IT systems and networks. It can include unauthorized access, damage, disruption, or theft of critical assets, networks, or any form of data.  

Threats can come from within or outside an organization from both trusted and untrusted sources. Though they always have negative consequences, threats can be intentional or accidental. 

Cybersecurity threats result from vulnerabilities in a network. Due to the hyper-connectivity of today’s IT environments, vulnerabilities are inevitable and nearly impossible to completely eradicate. Because of this, the number and severity of cybersecurity threats has increased in recent years

Types of cybersecurity threats 

As technology evolves, so do cybersecurity threats. Organizations must be prepared for these five types of threats at any time.  


One of the most common and damaging types of cybersecurity threats, ransomware encrypts files and information in a network. This prevents access to the information until a ransom is paid to decrypt them. Victims are often given a specified amount of time to pay the ransom prior to their files being destroyed.  

According to new ESG research in the Zero Trust Impact Report

  • 76 percent of organizations surveyed have been attacked by ransomware in the past 2 years alone. 
  • 82 percent of those who were victims of a successful ransomware attack paid a ransom. 
  • On average, they paid $495,000 in ransom. 

With the exponential increase in ransomware attacks, ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) has become a new trend. RaaS is a subscription-based business model similar to software-as-a-service (SaaS) that lets users purchase ready-made ransomware tools to execute ransomware attacks.  

Developing ransomware can be both difficult and time consuming, but RaaS allows more users access to ransomware and, in turn, allows more money to be made from it.  

The RaaS market is competitive: the total ransomware revenues in 2021 reached $20 billion. Many RaaS operators run like any other SaaS business, with marketing campaigns, professional websites, and social media accounts. To evade law authorities, RaaS operators regularly disappear and reorganize under different names, sometimes re-emerging with new ransomware variants.  

The rampant growth of ransomware is one of the most alarming cybersecurity threats organizations face. Every organization should plan for a ransomware attack at any time with Zero Trust Segmentation in place to stop the attack’s spread. 

Download our ebook on How to Stop Ransomware Attacks to learn more bout how to protect your organization from ransomware


Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are digital currencies that enter circulation via a process called mining. While cryptocurrency mining has financial rewards, it requires extensive computing power to achieve.  

Malicious cryptocurrency miners have turned to cryptojacking to reap the rewards of mining without the overhead costs. As a result, cryptojacking attacks have increased exponentially in the last few years. 

Cybercriminals use cryptojacking to highjack desktops, servers, cloud infrastructure, IoT devices, and even mobile devices for the purpose of illicit cryptocurrency mining. By using their victim’s computing systems, cryptojackers can increase their mining power without the costs of purchasing their own systems.  

Cryptojackers can attack through web browsers or rogue mobile apps, targeting unsuspecting users who click a link or accept a download without thinking twice. This delivers cryptomining software to the victims’ system and immediately starts the mining process. Cryptojackers also hide within legitimate applications, like a 2019 cryptojacking scheme involving Windows PowerShell, which they use to execute hidden malicious mining scripts.  

Simple security measures can help protect against most cryptojacking, including regularly installing security updates and training everyone in your organization to recognize and avoid emails, links, and files that may lead to cryptojacking.   


How often do employees in your organization open files attached to emails or click a link online? For most, it’s an everyday occurrence – that’s why cybercriminals hide in URLs, PDFs, and Microsoft Office files using malware

Malware, shortened from malicious software, is a term that can be used to describe all types of cybersecurity threats. Malware is any file or code specifically designed to infect, steal, disrupt, or conduct virtually any malicious behavior an attacker wants on a device or system.  

Hackers employ trusted platforms users access frequently, like Microsoft Word and Excel, to infiltrate the network and cause harm. In fact, 38 percent of malware is now being disguised as Microsoft Word documents. Even an employee well-trained in cybersecurity best practices can have difficulty distinguishing between a safe and malicious Word file or email attachment.  

Malware attacks of all kinds are inevitable. Zero Trust Segmentation allows you to stop the spread of malware in a matter of minutes, isolating the attack from the rest of the network.  

Man-in-the-middle (MitM)

One of the oldest types of cybersecurity threats, man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks allow hackers to intercept or alter communications between two parties through an email, website, server, or Wi-Fi network. This offers attackers the opportunity to steal login credentials or personal information, corrupt data, or redirect funds, resources, or attention.  

By getting between the communication of the victim and a legitimate host, MitM attacks can modify what each party is saying for malicious intent. 

In 2019, more than one-third of network weakness exploitation involved MitM attacks, according to IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index. And with today’s remote workers accessing unsecured, public Wi-Fi networks, MitM attacks are the rise. These unsecured networks make it incredibly easy for hackers to perpetrate MitM attacks with minimal technology and technical knowledge.  

Though MitM attacks are simple to execute, they can be difficult for security teams to detect. The dispersed, hyper-connected nature of modern networks provides numerous opportunities for MitM attacks to gain access.  


In phishing attacks, cybercriminals contact people via email, telephone, or text message posing as a legitimate person or institution. Those who take the bait get lured into providing sensitive information such as passwords, banking information, or login credentials.  

In the worst phishing cases, organizations experience data theft and financial loss that can have devastating effects. 

Spear phishing, a more targeted form of phishing, is the most common form of attack, making up 65 percent of all phishing attacks. Whereas regular phishing attempts to reach masses of people, spear phishing uses social engineering and spoofed emails or text messages to target specific individuals or groups of people in an organization. The financial sector, including banks, is the most likely to experience a spear-phishing attack, making up nearly a quarter of all attacks

Phishing emails and text messages have a few common features: 

  • Too good to be true: Lucrative offers or attention-grabbing statements are designed to attract attention and excitement. If a message seems implausible or too good to be true, it likely is. 
  • Sense of urgency: Phishing attackers put pressure on victims to act quickly before they have time to make sense of the message. If a message is unexpected or seems “off,” go to the person, website, or application directly instead of immediately clicking the link in the email. 
  • Hyperlinks: Check to make sure links are legitimate by hovering over the link. You will see the link’s actual URL – if it is a completely different URL or a popular website with a misspelling, avoid clicking the link and delete the message.  
  • Attachments: Never open an unexpected attachment, especially in a message from an unknown sender. Phishing attackers often use PDFs or Word files to tempt victims to download malware onto their device to gain access to the network.  
  • Unusual sender: Avoid emails with unexpected, odd, or suspicious messages or senders. It’s better to confirm the validity of the message and respond later than to act thoughtlessly and become a phishing victim. 

Though users are one of the most important parts of a network, they can also be its most significant vulnerability to cyberthreats. Prepare for users to accidently allow phishing schemes into your organization’s network by implementing Zero Trust Segmentation. When a phishing attack succeeds, a segmented network will ensure the attack doesn’t spread.  

Arm your organization against cybersecurity threats 

There’s no way to predict the next cybersecurity threat. And, unfortunately, it’s unlikely your network is completely safe from an attack.  

The best way to protect your organization from all types of cybersecurity threats is to be prepared with a Zero Trust security strategy. Zero Trust is a modern cybersecurity framework that assumes cyberattacks are inevitable and offers strategies to mitigate their impact. 

Using Zero Trust Segmentation, organizations can segment their networks to prevent breaches from spreading. This ensures that breaches are simply a containable nuisance rather than a cataclysmic attack. 

Learn more about Illumio Zero Trust Segmentation

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