Top 6 Cybersecurity Threats

Cybersecurity threats are attacks against an organization that can be intended to achieve various objectives. A cyberattacker may attempt to steal an organization’s sensitive information, disrupt its ability to provide services, or perform other actions that harm the business in some way.

Companies face cyber threats from multiple sources ranging from unsophisticated cybercriminals, commonly called “script kiddies”, to highly sophisticated threat actors backed by nation-states or organized crime. Cyberattacks can be extremely profitable to an attacker, provide access to valuable information, or enable an attacker to carry out political goals.

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Types of Cybersecurity Threats

As companies become increasingly reliant on their infrastructure, their exposure to cyber threats expands. The introduction of cloud computing, mobile devices, the Internet of Things, and other devices has created numerous potential vectors by which a cyber threat actor can attack an organization.

As a result, the threat landscape has expanded significantly. The main types of cybersecurity threats that companies face today include malware, social engineering, web application exploits, supply chain attacks, Denial of Service attacks, and man-in-the-middle attacks.


Malware is malicious software that can be used to achieve many different goals on an infected system. Some of the most common types of malware include:

  • Ransomware: Ransomware encrypts files on an infected device using an encryption key known only to the attacker. The ransomware operator then demands a ransom from the victim in exchange for the encryption key needed to restore their data. In recent years, ransomware emerged as one of the most visible and expensive cyber threats that companies face.
  • Trojan Horse: Trojan horse malware pretends to be something else, like a free version of valuable software. Once the victim downloads and runs the trojan on their computer, it executes its malicious functionality.
  • Remote Access Trojan (RAT): RATs are a type of trojan designed to serve as an access point for follow-on attacks. Once the malware is running on the infected computer, it provides the attacker with remote access and control, enabling them to download other malware, steal sensitive data, or take other actions.
  • Spyware: Spyware is malware designed to spy on and collect information about the user of an infected computer. Spyware may be designed to steal user credentials, financial data, and other sensitive and potentially valuable information that the attacker could sell or use in future attacks.
  • Cryptojacking: Proof of Work (PoW) cryptocurrencies use a computationally expensive process called mining to create new blocks on the blockchain. Cryptojacking malware performs mining operations on an infected machine, using the victim’s computational power to create blocks and earn cryptocurrency for the attacker.

Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks use trickery, coercion, and other forms of psychological manipulation to get the target to do what the attacker wants. Some examples of common social engineering tactics include:

  • Phishing: Phishing attacks use social engineering techniques to try to trick the recipient into taking an action that benefits the attacker. Phishing messages — sent over email, social media, corporate communications apps, or other messaging platforms — typically are designed to trick a target into clicking a malicious link, opening a malicious attachment, or handing over sensitive information such as login credentials.
  • Spear Phishing: Spear phishing attacks are phishing attacks that are targeted at a particular person or group and use information about their target to make the pretext of the phishing message more believable. For example, a spear phishing email to an employee in the finance department may claim to be an unpaid invoice from one of the company’s legitimate vendors or suppliers.
  • Smishing: Smishing attacks are phishing attacks performed using SMS text messages. These attacks take advantage of the features of mobile devices, such as the common use of link shortening services (such as and the ability to mouse over a link to check its destination in SMS messages.
  • Vishing: Vishing attacks use many of the same techniques as phishing but are performed over the phone. The attacker attempts to talk the target into performing some action or handing over sensitive data, such as payment card information or login credentials.

Web Application Attacks

Web applications make up a significant portion of an organization’s public-facing digital attack surface. Some of the most common and high-impact vulnerabilities in web applications are the following:

  • SQL Injection (SQLI): SQL, which is used when interacting with a database, intermingles data and instructions, often separated by single (‘) or double (“) quotes. SQLI attackers provide deliberately malformed data that is used in an SQL query so that part of the attacker-provided data is interpreted as a command, enabling the attacker to control the action performed on the database.
  • Remote Code Execution (RCE): RCE vulnerabilities are those that allow an attacker to execute code on the system hosting a vulnerable application. For example, an attacker may be able to exploit a buffer overflow vulnerability to run their malicious commands.
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): HTML web pages allow scripts to be embedded alongside the data defining the contents and structure of the web page. XSS attacks exploit injection, access control, or other vulnerabilities to insert malicious scripts into a page. These scripts are then run every time a user visits the page, allowing the attacker to steal sensitive information (login credentials, payment card data, etc.) or run malicious code.

Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks exploit an organization’s relationships with external parties. Some of the ways in which an attacker can take advantage of these trust relationships include:

  • Third-Party Access: Companies commonly allow their vendors, suppliers, and other external parties to have access to their IT environments and systems. If an attacker can gain access to a trusted partner’s network, they can exploit the partner’s legitimate access to a company’s systems.
  • Trusted External Software: All companies use third-party software and allow it inside their networks. Like in the SolarWinds hack, if an attacker can insert malicious code into third-party software or an update to it, that malicious code may be trusted within the organization’s environment, providing access to sensitive data and critical systems.
  • Third-Party Code: Nearly all applications incorporate third-party and open-source code and libraries. This external code may include exploitable vulnerabilities, such as Log4j, or malicious functionality inserted by an attacker. If an organization’s applications rely on vulnerable or malicious code, they may be vulnerable to attack or misuse.

DoS Attacks

Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are designed to disrupt the availability of a service. Common DoS threats include the following:

  • Distributed DoS (DDoS) Attacks: In a DDoS attack, multiple machines — typically infected computers or cloud-based resources — send many spam requests to a service. Since an application, the system that hosts it, and its network connections all have finite bandwidths, the attacker can exceed these thresholds and render the service unavailable to legitimate users.
  • Ransom DoS (RDoS) Attacks: In an RDoS attack, the attacker demands a ransom to not perform a DDoS attack against an organization or to stop an ongoing DDoS attack. These attacks may be standalone campaigns or combined with a ransomware attack to provide the attacker with additional leverage to force the victim to pay the ransom.
  • Vulnerability Exploitation: Applications may have logical errors, such as a buffer overflow vulnerability, that could cause them to crash if exploited. If an attacker exploits these vulnerabilities, they could perform a DoS attack against the vulnerable service.

MitM Attacks

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks are focused on intercepting communications. Some MitM threats include:

  • Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attack: In a MitM attack, the attacker intercepts traffic between its source and destination. If the traffic is not protected by encryption and digital signatures, this might allow the attacker to read and modify the intercepted traffic.
  • Man-in-the-Browser (MitB) Attack: In a MitB attack, the attacker exploits vulnerabilities in a user’s browser to implant malicious code in the browser. This allows the attacker to read or modify data before it is viewed by the user or sent to the server.

Types of Cybersecurity Solutions

Companies face a wide range of cybersecurity threats, and effectively managing cyber risk requires cybersecurity solutions that offer comprehensive protection. An effective cybersecurity program requires the following types of cybersecurity solutions:

  • Cloud Security: As companies move to the cloud, they are exposed to new security risks, and solutions designed for on-prem environments may not effectively manage cloud risk. Cloud security solutions like cloud access security brokers (CASB), serverless and container security solutions, and other cloud security solutions are specifically designed to address these cloud security threats.
  • Network Security: Most cyberattacks come over the network, and identifying and preventing attacks from reaching an organization’s endpoints eliminates their impact on the organization. A next-generation firewall (NGFW) is the foundation of a network security strategy and can be used to block traffic from entering the enterprise network or from moving between zones in a segmented network.
  • Application Security (AppSec): Most production applications contain at least one vulnerability, and some of these vulnerabilities are exploitable and pose significant risks to the organization. Integrating AppSec solutions into DevOps workflows can help to identify and remediate vulnerabilities before they reach production, and web application and API security solutions can block attempted exploitation of vulnerable applications.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Security: IoT devices can provide significant benefits to an organization by enabling centralized monitoring and management of Internet-connected devices; however, these devices commonly contain security flaws. IoT security solutions help to manage access to vulnerable devices and to protect these devices against exploitation.
  • Endpoint Security: Protecting endpoints against malware and other threats has always been important, but the rise of remote work has made it more vital than ever. Protection against ransomware, malware, phishing, and other threats is essential to the security of the endpoint.
  • Mobile Security: As the use of mobile devices for business becomes more common, cyber threat actors are increasingly targeting these devices with mobile-specific attacks. Mobile security solutions provide protection against both general and mobile-specific threats, such as phishing, malicious apps, and connectivity to potential malicious networks.

Protecting Against Cybersecurity Threats with Check Point

Companies have increasingly complex IT infrastructures and are exposed to a variety of different threats. Protecting against the diverse cyber threat landscape requires 360-degree visibility, real-time threat intelligence, and a security infrastructure that can be mobilized in an effective, joined-up manner.

Learn about the growing threat of Gen V attacks and the leading threats that companies face in Check Point’s 2022 Cyber Security Report. You’re also welcome to take Check Point’s free Security Checkup to better understand the risks that your organization faces.

Check Point’s Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) can help your organization to streamline and integrate your security architecture. Find out more with a free ELA consultation.


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