What are Information Security Threats?

Information Security Threats are possible malicious attacks that might result in sensitive data being exposed. They can harm the system through a security breach, including unlawful data access and disruption of digital operations. Information Security Threats aim at corrupting or stealing data to disrupt an organization’s systems or the entire organization. Security Threats come in all shapes and sizes, such as software attacks, theft of intellectual property, identity theft, equipment or information theft, sabotage, and information extortion.

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Various Threats on IT systems:

Any threat to the computer system might lead to data or information loss of the system. These threats can occur intentionally, accidentally, or by any other means. Different types of threats include –

Physical Threat

Physical Threats may result in accidental or deliberate damage to the computer system hardware and infrastructure. They can be caused by factors like internal, external, or even human errors.

Internal Threats

Internal factors like unstable power supply, hardware fault, internal humidity, etc. may result in physical damage to the system.

It threats

External Threat

Lightening, floods, and earthquakes are some of the major and common external factors that may cause damage to the hardware and other physical parts of the computer system.

Human Threats

These may be intentional or accidental. Theft, vandalism of infrastructure and/or hardware, are some of the common damages caused by human errors or deliberate attempts.

Non-physical Threat

These include all potential reasons for contactless security breaches that result in data corruption, information loss, operational disruption, and cybersecurity breaches, etc.

Attacks on the IT system:

An attack on the system is one of the potential causes behind data and monetary loss to the computer software and/or hardware. There are different types of attacks, such as –

Virus

In simple terms, a virus is a harmful computer program which when executed, replicates itself and modifies the program of the host computer system by inserting its own code. They are typically designed to get transmitted from one system to another for damaging the computer.

Spyware

A collection of malicious programs, that is designed to extract information from computer systems, against its user’s legitimate consent is known as Spyware. , Spyware is a collection of programs that secretly record the activities that are carried out on the computer.

Phishing

Mostly referred to as the fraudulent practice of sending emails pretending to be genuine in order to extract valuable information from the user. Usually done through emails, their goal is to steal sensitive information and login credentials.

Worms

Computer worms are self-replicating malicious programs designed to spread across the computer network majorly in an organization. Different types of computer worms are internet worms, E-mail worms, File sharing worms, and Instant-messaging worms.

Spam

Refers to irrelevant and unrecognized source messages sent via mail with the objective of advertising, malware insertion, phishing, etc. Spams can be distributed via phone calls, text messages, or social media. Spammers can trick people to reveal secret information, passcodes, or even draw out money from them. The most commonly used spam types are tech support spams, advance fee spams, etc.

Botnets

Botnets are a group of private computers infected with malware to take control of the systems without the user’s knowledge. The 2 words ‘robot’ and ‘network’ jointly form the word Botnet. They are programmed to grow, automate and assist the hijacker in carrying out bigger cyber attacks. Botnets can work with limited time and cost, making them an increasingly popular threat.

DoS attacks

DoS stands for Denial of Service. DoS attacks are designed to trigger crashes of the computer system resulting in a complete system shutdown making it inaccessible by its intended users. The intended targets of DoS attacks may include web servers of organizations in Banking, Commerce, Media, or Government and trade.

Ransomware

It refers to the act of encrypting a user’s or an organization’s data followed by a demand for ransom from the user or organization to provide access to the same. Ransomware uses asymmetric encryption and a private key to encrypt files on the victim’s system. A ransom is then demanded to give access to the private key to the victim. For example- Ryuk 2019, 2020.

Mobile malware

They are basically malicious programs targeting operating systems on mobile phones. Mobile malware tends to specifically collapse the operating systems of smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches to steal confidential data. For example, SMS phishing cases have been reported to have increased recently.

API vulnerabilities

As APIs are accessible over the internet, they are vulnerable to attacks just like any other URL having sensitive data/files attached to it. Some of the vulnerabilities are the Man-in-the-middle attack, CSRF, XSS attack, SQL injection, DDoS, and many more.

Breaches

Intentional or unintentional release of sensitive/private/confidential data or information in an unrecognized and unprotected environment is termed as a Breach. It includes data as well as security breaches. A security breach is when someone breaks into the system, whereas a data breach is when the information also gets stolen after the security breach.

Difference between Threat, Vulnerability, Attack and Attack vector:

Threat Vulnerability Attack Attack Vector
Anything potential to cause harm to the system or organization. weakness or flaw in the system could be exploited by a hacker. Used to break in the system. Path by which attacker gains access to the system.
Network threats, application threats, cloud threats, etc. Poor password, poor security systems, unencrypted protocols DOS attack, OS attack, virus, worms Email attachments, popup windows.

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Tips to Prevent IT Threats

With new threats surfacing each year, it has become important to learn more about such threats and different ways to tackle them.

Some of the tips are given below:

Anti-Virus Programs

Installing and frequently updating anti-virus programs is the most effective way to tackle virus attacks.

Identity theft protection

To combat phishing, anti-virus solutions with Identity theft protection is considered as a prompt identification of any kind of Phishing attack.

Online Security tools

These can be used to protect the computer systems from hackers through in-built identity theft protected online security tools.

Network strengthening

Strong encrypted passwords and VPN (Virtual Private Networks) allow protection from cybercriminals breaking into your system security.

Internet Security suite

Adopting a full-fledged internet security suite for your organizations or personal systems is one of the most trusted solutions to prevent cyber attacks.

Training

It is advisable to train the staff of the organization to thoroughly check the links and e-mail addresses before clicking on them. Keeping the employees informed about cybersecurity threats, modes and precautions by conducting training sessions has become crucial nowadays.

Endpoint Protection

There are networks that are remotely bridged to devices. Laptops, computers, and mobile devices are connected to corporate networks paving the way for security threats. Such paths need endpoint protection software.

Firewall

Installing a firewall has been proven to have defied major cyberattacks. Firewalls tend to block any brute force attacks meant for the computer system before they could damage the network or files.

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