Hacking techniques are ever-evolving, and it’s important to keep up with new threats. Threat actors are usually after two things from your business: data or money. Usually, they’re motivated by both, as uncovering a wealth of data can help them to cash in at the detriment of your business.
Compromised data can cost your organization millions. According to research by the Ponemon Institute, “Data breach average cost increased 2.6% from $4.2 million in 2021 to $4.35 million in 2022.”
In addition to financial costs, a well-executed cyberattack could damage your reputation and put you out of business. Prosper in 2022 and 2023 by educating your employees (and yourself!) with security awareness training. Here are the top hacking techniques to look out for:
5 Common Hacking Techniques for 2022
1. Social Engineering & Phishing
Social engineering is an attempt to get a potential victim — often someone who works for a targeted organization — to share personal information, usually by impersonating a trusted source.
Social engineering bait frequently comes in the form of phishing emails, where a threat actor sends a message that looks like it’s from someone you know. This message asks you to do something — like to click and download an infected attachment — under the guise of being helpful. If an infected file is downloaded, your computer can be compromised, giving the threat actor access to your computer, and sometimes, your entire network.
EarthWeb reported that “over 3.4 billion emails are sent daily as part of phishing attacks 2022.” With this number, it’s no surprise social engineering tactics, like phishing, are some of the biggest threats to look out for this year.
What you can do: Warn your employees to never give out private business information over email, to think before opening any attachments, and educate them on how to avoid email scams.
2. Malware-Injecting Devices
Cybercriminals can use hardware to sneak malware onto your computer. For example, compromised USB sticks can give hackers remote access to your device as soon as they’re plugged into your computer.
All it takes is for one person to give you a malware-ridden USB stick, and your whole organization could be at risk. Plus, clever hackers are now using cords — like USB cables and mouse cords — to inject malware.
What you can do: Educate your employees on physical malware injection methods and caution them to stop and think before plugging in an unknown drive or cable.
3. Missing Security Patches
Security tools can become outdated as the hacking landscape advances. They require frequent updates to protect against new threats. However, some users ignore update notifications or security patches, leaving them vulnerable.
It’s not just antivirus software that needs patching. According to EdgeScan’s Vulnerability Statistics report, “Eighteen percent of all network-level vulnerabilities are caused by unpatched applications – Apache, Cisco, Microsoft, WordPress, BSD, PHP, etc.” Your applications need constant attention as well to keep bad actors from exploiting holes in your security, especially considering the additional security threats evolving in 2022.
In January 2022, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned the country about cyber threats sponsored by Russia. CISA went as far as listing the following recommendation first under the Vulnerability and Configuration Management section of the official document: “Update software, including operating systems, applications, and firmware on IT network assets, in a timely manner.”
What you can do: Ensure that all of your antivirus and applications are routinely updated as security patches become available. Consider vulnerability assessments to ensure that the most prominent vulnerabilities are identified and addressed first.
4. Cracking Passwords
Hackers can obtain your credentials through a number of means, such as keylogging, in which undetected software — accidentally downloaded by the victim of a social engineering attack — can record keystrokes for the threat actor to use at their will. This includes saving usernames and passwords as they are entered on the infected computer.
Additionally, password cracking programs can run through letter and character combinations at blinding speeds to guess passwords. In fact, the latest graphics processing technology allows for even more complex passwords to be brute forced and hacked in significantly less time than ever before.
What you can do: Use a password management tool, which securely houses your company credentials. These tools can often auto-generate lengthy, diverse character passwords that are difficult for hackers to brute force guess— and autofill for your employees for easy access to their tools. Consider also looking into encryption and multi-factor authentication methods to shield your data from hacking techniques that go undetected by automated scans.
5. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS)
This hacking technique is aimed at taking down a website so that a user cannot access it or deliver their service. Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks work by hitting the target’s server with large influxes of traffic. The amount is so frequent and high that it overloads the server by giving it more requests than it can handle. Ultimately, your server crashes and your website goes down with it.
Larger businesses can get hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which is a synchronized attack on more than one server or website, using multiple computers to attack at once, potentially taking down numerous online assets.
What you can do: Use a cloud protection service or DDoS mitigation services to protect your business from a site takedown. Consider external network penetration testing and product claims testing to verify that your chosen protection methods are effective.
2023 Cyber Security Threats and Predictions
The landscape of potential cybersecurity threats has quickly become a minefield for 2023. We believe that knowledge is power. Here is what to look out for, and what we think will happen next year:
1. COVID-19 Induced Remote Vulnerabilities
Social engineering has grown even more rampant, with the coronavirus pandemic giving cyber criminals the perfect pretense for manipulations. Social engineers have played off of America's urgency for financial support and medical care services after losing their jobs and watching loved ones take ill. They pose as the government offering stimulus checks or imploring other clever phishing schemes to capitalize on the fearful pandemic.
With the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have switched to either full or partial remote operations, allowing employees to work from home. The problem remains, many companies shifted to home offices in desperation to avoid closure and do not have proper security measures in place to protect themselves against a slew of hacking techniques targeting the remote landscape.
For example, threat actors are capitalizing on users working on open WiFi networks, creating malicious networks posed as trusted businesses like Starbucks to hack targets. A special series by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns that unsupported remote access facilities “increase potential security risk.”
What you can do: In 2023, be on the lookout for phishers promising coronavirus relief or resources. If you receive an email asking you to register online to be first in line for a COVID vaccine, or a text message from a number you don’t recognize, asking you to confirm your mailing address to receive coronavirus support information, think before you click.
Follow any remote connection protocols set forth by your organization. If you are an organization leader, ensure that remote workers are aware of potential threats and enforce a secured connection policy.
2. Previously Unexplored Tech Hacks
We all know our computers can be exploited, but cybersecurity experts are predicting that bad actors will go after much larger fish for 2023. Smartphones and smart home devices, for instance, were responsible for 70% of fraudulent transactions in 2018, with bad actors taking control of device microphones or cameras to listen in or watch users, in hopes of recovering private data to use against them.
Beyond the home or office, cybercriminals are experimenting with remote hacks to cars with electronic operating systems, like the Brokenwire technique which involves sending malicious signals to interrupt the charging session of electric vehicles. In years to come, larger systems responsible for transport like train railways and airplanes may be targets for malicious compromise, as well as hospitals and schools.
What you can do: Keep an eye on the tech news to see how cybersecurity experts are working to find solutions.
3. AI (Artificial Intelligence)
According to Forbes, “AI is a tool that can also be exploited by bad actors.” From realistic-sounding voices to rendering images, there are several new tools in a threat actor’s toolbox for 2023.
What you can do: Relying on automated scans and tools can give threat actors the opportunity to utilize AI in social engineering attacks to steal company data. Provide cyber security awareness training to keep your employees informed about new techniques employed by threat actors.
4. Geo-Targeted Phishing Threats
Phishing has been a huge threat for years. However, threat actors are now targeting victims who live in specific locations with seemingly relevant, innocent clickbait. For example, a sophisticated spear phishing email in 2023 may offer an employee discount at a water park in their city — they just have to put in their employee ID. A threat actor could then use this information to access your internal network and launch their ransomware or other attacks with ease.
What you can do: A social engineering pentest can evaluate the current level of security awareness among your employees. From there, you can work to mitigate the risks by providing continuous education and live hacking demonstrations.
5 ½ Steps to Better Cybersecurity
By simply thinking ahead about the hacking techniques to come, you’re on the right track. But knowing about your threat landscape is very different from taking tangible actions to safeguard against attacks.
Feeling like your security infrastructure needs some strengthening? Download our free ebook, 5-½ Steps to Avoid Cyber Threats, where we skip the long list of security check marks and highlight five high-impact steps to dramatically elevate your security posture, today.