A growing number of cybersecurity threats has the information security industry on high alert. More sophisticated cyberattacks have been aimed at the data and assets of corporations, governments, school systems, and financial institutions.

Adding to the threat, the cybersecurity industry continues to suffer from a severe shortage of cybersecurity professionals who are tasked with watching over and neutralizing these emerging threats. Cybercrime isn’t going away, and as our reliance on technology increase, so too will the volume of cybercrimes

Just as technology becomes more sophisticated, so too are the strategies of cybercriminals. With increasing ambitions, hackers are evolving their strategies and use of technology, IT leaders must plan for the inevitable. Proper planning and cybersecurity processes must be put into place as well as a well thought out Incident Response Plans (IRP) so IT teams know how to respond when a security breach happens.

A question that always comes up from company executives and their IT teams is what threats should their company be on the lookout for? Our advice is to be prepared, at a minimum, for these top ten cybersecurity threats:

1. Ransomware & Malware

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, Ransomware is predicted to hit $11.5 billion in damages for 2019, which roughly translates into a new victim every 14 seconds. Ransomware has grown to be one of the biggest problems on the web. Victims can only regain access to their encrypted files and PCs only by paying a ransom to the cybercriminals. The ransom payment is only one part of the impact. The loss of productivity, system downtime, the cost of rebuilding systems and replacing the hardware all impact a company’s ability to survive after a ransomware attack.

2. Endpoint Attacks

As more companies move more resources into the cloud, the attack surface increases for cybercriminals to exploit. With more companies creating “bring your own device” environments and adopting SaaS platforms with more frequency, hackers have more targets to pursue that often have weaker security features. The challenge is how best to secure these off-premise systems and personal devices. Endpoint attacks are frequently used b cybercriminals to gain access to larger networks, using them as a bridge. By requiring endpoint devices to meet security standards before being granted network access, enterprises maintain greater control over the ever-growing number of access points and more effectively block cyber threats and access attempts.

3. Phishing

Phishing continues to be the most popular, low tech approach to gaining access to networks which is why it is the number one attack vector for cybercriminals. More often than not, phishing emails look like normal, every day emails from companies, executives and trusted peers. By clicking on any of the links or providing information on imposter landing pages malware is loaded onto their device allowing cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive networks. With the widespread use of SaaS services like Slack, Salesforce and Office 365, hackers are becoming more sophisticated with their impersonation and social engineering skills to provide more appealing offers to engage and divulge information.

4. Third-Party and Supply Chain Attacks

A supply chain attack, also known as a third-party attack, is when a cybercriminal uses the vulnerability of an outside supplier’s security system to gain access to a larger organization’s network and sensitive data. According to the Ponemon Institute, 75% of IT professionals surveyed acknowledged the risk of a breach through a third party is dangerous and increasing. More specifically, 63% of all data breaches can be linked either directly or indirectly to third-party access according to Soha Systems.

5. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Attacks

While Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are being used by cybersecurity companies, it is also being used by cybercriminals to launch more sophisticated attacks. With these tools, attacks can be multiplied and sped up to gain access to critical networks and sensitive databases. The impact of these attacks is already being seen. According to CSO Online, Many of the most recent large-scale ransomware attacks have been AI and Machine Learning driven.

6. IoT Attacks

The use of the Internet of Things (IoT) is growing each day (according to Statista.com, the number of devices connected to the IoT is expected to reach almost 31 billion by 2020). IoT includes everything from laptops and tablets, as well as routers, webcams, household appliances, smartwatches, medical devices, manufacturing equipment, automobiles and even home security systems. However, more connected devices mean greater risk, making IoT networks vulnerable to cyberattacks. Once controlled by hackers, IoT devices can be used to overload networks, tap into sensitive data or lockdown essential equipment for financial gain.

7. Inadequate Patch Management 

The purpose of a patch is to eliminate a “hole” or vulnerability in software or hardware programs. Manufacturers release patches all the time to address vulnerabilities in their operating systems, software, and other technologies. They’re essential to the security of your business — yet, frequently, patching largely gets ignored both by users and IT security teams simply because they have so many other pressing responsibilities to manage. Regardless of the reason, a lot of technology remains unpatched, leaving businesses and their data vulnerable to even the most basic of cybersecurity threats.

8. Formjacking

Formjacking is just how it sounds. Formjacking is a type of cybersecurity threat where a cybercriminal takes over the forms on. In many cases, cybercriminals use lines of malicious code on the checkout page forms of eCommerce websites to steal financial information and credit card numbers. The goal is to skim valuable data submitted on the forms. Othertimes, cybercriminals will use chatbots to target their attacks. Symantec’s 2019 Internet Security Threat Report shows that formjacking dramatically increased in 2018. The report showed an average of 4,800 websites are compromised with formjacking code each month.

9. Cryptojacking 

The cryptocurrency, also known as online currency, also affects cybersecurity. Cryptojacking involves cybercriminals hijacking third-party home or work computers to “mine” for cryptocurrency. Because mining for cryptocurrency requires immense amounts of computer processing power, hackers can make money by secretly piggybacking on someone else’s systems. For businesses, cryptojacked systems cause serious performance issues and costly downtime as IT teams track down and resolve the issue.

10. A Severe Shortage of Cyber Security Professionals

The rate of cybercrime has escalated rapidly in recent years, forcing companies and governments to scramble to hire enough qualified cybersecurity professionals to deal with the growing threat. This shortage is expected to continue into 2019 and beyond, with some estimating there are more than 1 million unfilled positions worldwide, potentially growing to 3.5 million by 2021.

“It’s important to realize that critical vulnerabilities might appear at any time,” says Shawn Waldman, CEO of Secure Cyber Defense. Addressing and monitoring a company’s vulnerability in each of these ten areas provides a significant advantage against being impacted by a breach. Companies should also conduct yearly vulnerability assessments to address new hardware, software, and third-party access points to further close their gaps in cybersecurity. Secure Cyber Defense is dedicated to helping companies, government agencies, manufacturers, education, and financial companies assess, monitor and protect their company’s sensitive data and consumer information.