Common Cyber Threats: Malware, Phishing, DDoS Attacks, Insider Threats

common cyber threats

A general consensus persists within the managed IT and cybersecurity sector that too many organizations are unprepared for the top cybersecurity threats. 

Reports indicate that more than 60 percent of cybersecurity decision-makers are dissatisfied with their company’s efforts to protect digital assets. By understanding common cybersecurity threats and the cost of a data breach, forward-thinking professionals can make an informed decision about their security posture.

What is a Cyber Threat?

A cyber threat is an intentional activity seeking to compromise an organization’s security and digital network. Threat actors, commonly called “hackers,” deploy malicious software and use brute force attacks to gain access to sensitive and valuable information. How a hacker assails a business network will depend on the online criminal’s skills, sophistication, and available tools.

An advanced persistent threat is usually well-funded and highly skilled. They typically work for another country to uncover national secrets, often military defense. By contrast, the traditional hacker trolls the internet looking for outfits with weak defenses. Garden variety hackers are looking to reap low-hanging fruit. They steal Social Security numbers, bank accounts, intellectual property, and personal identity information to sell on the dark web.

There has been a big increase in cybercrime in recent years. But by understanding their modus operandi and the current cybersecurity threat landscape, industry leaders can invest in the best protections possible.

Common Cybersecurity Threats

If you reviewed a list of the top 10 cybersecurity threats 10 or 15 years ago, it would look radically different from 2023. When Wells Fargo introduced online banking in 1995, a Russian hacker quickly devised malware to steal bank accounts and make fraudulent transactions. Known by the pseudonym “Slavik,” cybersecurity professionals eventually hardened their defenses and shut down his methods.

That process highlights the fact that cybersecurity is something of a cat-and-mouse game. Every time a cybersecurity professional finds a way to protect honest businesses, a hacker gets to work devising a scheme to slip past it, and vice versa. What’s important right now is that we address the biggest cybersecurity threats of 2023. By hardening your attack surface using strategic cybersecurity services, entrepreneurs and CEOs can sleep a little sounder.


Malware is a catch-all term that speaks to the malicious software hackers deploy to inflict harm on information systems and target digital assets for money. This is a short list of malicious software types you probably recognize:

  • Bots
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
  • Trojans

The success of malware hinges primarily on human error. Hackers use wide-reaching techniques to trick employees into clicking on a malicious link or downloading a malware-laced file. Once the software enters the system, hackers are in the driver’s seat.


It may be helpful to think about phishing as a hacker’s delivery system. Cybercriminals need a way to transport their malware into your business network. They typically use ordinary lines of electronic communication such as email, SMS, and social media platforms. One caveat to phishing is known as social engineering. A sophisticated hacker essentially stalks an employee or member of the leadership team online. After learning about their personal and professional life, online con artists use that information to trick people into giving away a password or username. The results can be devastating.

DDoS Attacks

In a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack, hackers flood and overwhelm a system with false and disruptive requests. The strategy paralyzes a company’s network, so legitimate users cannot perform routine tasks. Once company leaders realize they are under siege, they face tough choices. Hackers often require a lump-sum payment in cryptocurrency to stop the assault and allow the company to return to work. The alternative is to fight it out online while productivity remains in limbo.

Insider Threats

Some IT teams prefer to focus exclusively on external threats because they view coworkers as good people and friends. Unfortunately, insider threats pose a clear and present danger to organizations.

Disgruntled former employees may sometimes use their login credentials to pilfer off files or damage a network. In other instances, failures to follow cybersecurity protocols allow hackers to infiltrate. One of the notorious cases of failed security is the Solar Winds hack. An intern was given access to the network. This person reportedly posted their password online — SolarWinds123 — allowing hackers to plant malware that spread from the company’s software to the highest levels of government.

Inside threats are genuine and task cybersecurity professionals with internal and external defenses. That’s why it’s imperative to have a cybersecurity threat assessment conducted before a former employee or hacker disrupts your operation.

What a Cybersecurity Consultant Can Do for Your IT Security

At CyberTeam, our managed IT and cybersecurity consulting experts have the experience and technology to protect your company from a data breach. We start by conducting a risk assessment to gain a clear understanding of your system’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Schedule a risk assessment with us and begin the process of improving your defenses.

Ready to learn all the details of the powers of an IT consultant?