No end in sight for cyber threats, Crain's Detroit Business


This article originally appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business on September 26, 2022.

While more organizations are prioritizing strengthening their cybersecurity defenses, cyber threats continue to rise in 2022. This year alone, there was a 13 percent rise in ransomware attacks, which is more than the last five years combined.

So why do these threats continue to increase?

Just as organizations have been working to bolster their defenses (whether rolling out multi-factor authentication and endpoint detection and response or carving out time for employee cyber awareness training), cyber criminals are finding new ways to exploit human and system vulnerabilities, get into networks and walk away with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Cyber threats today are more complex and aggressive, and there does not appear to be an end in sight. The hot threats today include ransomware and wire fraud, and regulatory investigations and class action lawsuits have also increased dramatically.

Ransomware attacks are the most damaging and expensive cyber threat hitting organizations. Between the ransom demand and the cost to recover, it costs an average of $1.4 million to remediate an attack. Last year, the average ransom payment was $812,368 — nearly five times the average demand in 2020. Ransomware is a triple threat for businesses that encompasses the cost of the ransom demand, loss of revenue and the inability to operate.

Wire fraud
Whereas ransomware tests an organization’s technological cyber defenses, wire fraud schemes test the often-ignored human component of a well-rounded cyber defense — employee cyber awareness training. Nearly all wire fraud schemes stem from illegitimate emails containing fraudulent wire instructions that go overlooked by employees. A bad actor becomes the man in the middle of an email thread or spoofs a user’s email and re-works an invoice to include illegitimate wire instructions. Then, a payment intended for a customer is directed to the fraudster’s bank. The best defense a company can have in this case is employees who know how to spot the signs of wire fraud attempts, question a sudden wire instruction change and stop the threat before any payment is made.

Regulatory investigations and class action lawsuits
With the rise of data breaches comes the rise of regulatory investigations and class actions. Government regulators who are notified of data breaches have been increasingly investigating organizations that are the victim of these criminal acts. As part of their investigation, the regulators will often issue extensive data requests to ensure organizations are complying with state data privacy laws and properly notifying impacted individuals. This highlights how critical it is for every organization to take steps before a breach to ensure they are prepared to respond appropriately and comply with the law.

Class action lawsuits related to data breaches have now become commonplace. Historically, these lawsuits targeted headline breaches, which was the case for Equifax, Home Depot, Sony and Citrix.  Today, these class actions are going after organizations of all sizes. These lawsuits are fueled by statutes, including the Biometric Information Privacy Act and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which allow for statutory damages. CCPA, for example, grants victims the right to file lawsuits against businesses that allow unauthorized access to personal information because of failure to implement appropriate security measures.

With laws rapidly changing and cyber threats quickly evolving, organizations need to be on the offensive, having a plan in place and doing all they can to fortify their defenses for the inevitable cyber threat that will land on their doorstep.


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