8 common cybersecurity threats to watch out for

2020 has been a strange year, to say the very least. But despite Covid-19 throwing the world into disarray, hackers have shown no signs of slowing down — some even took advantage of the pandemic to exploit targets.

In October, it was reported that more than a quarter of Canadian organizations surveyed had been affected by Covid-19-themed attacks.

The Minister of National Defence, Honourable Harjit Sajjan, actually stated that “cyber security has never been more important, as more and more of our business and personal activities move online.”

Scott Jones of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, reinforced these sentiments: “From cybercriminals holding our personal information for ransom, to state-sponsored actors threatening our critical infrastructure, the cyber threats Canadians face are increasing in sophistication and severity.”

With all this in mind, it’s clear that businesses of all sizes must take advantage of the latest technologies and techniques to defend against cybersecurity threats.

But which are the most common you need to watch out for?


Ransomware can be a nightmare for businesses and organizations. And, sadly, these attacks can be incredibly costly: they cost companies across Canada up to $2.3bn in 2019.

It’s believed downtime resulting from ransomware can be as much as $10,000 per day — if not substantially more depending on the extent of the damage.

Attackers use ransomware to lock users out of their own system or specific programs, unless they pay a ransom. They may threaten to share, publish, or delete data if the fee is unpaid.

But there’s no guarantee that actually paying the ransom will restore access to targeted systems — the attacker could keep victims locked out or delete data maliciously.

MITM (Man-in-the-Middle)

A Man-in-the-Middle attack is designed to exploit users and devices accessing remote systems via the internet. Generally, people might assume they’ll communicate with the server directly, but attackers insert themselves between users and said server to access information.

They’ll intercept communications, which may enable them to return different responses, take sensitive data, and compromise user credentials.

Common examples of MITM cyber attacks include:

Replay attack

Attackers will “listen in” on network communications and pretend to be the user by delaying or misdirecting intercepted messages.

Session hijacks

Attackers hijack sessions between servers and clients. Their computer will swap its IP address for that of the client, so the server assumes it’s still connected to the client. The session will continue until the issue is discovered or the attacker has everything they need.

IP spoofing

Attackers convince systems that they’re communicating with a legitimate party, so they can gain the access they need. Attackers create packets with a trusted host’s IP source address instead of the real address.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service)

Cybercriminals utilizing Denial of Service attacks aim to overwhelm systems’ resources and render them unable to function as necessary. Users will be unable to access their systems, which can cause severe disruptions to work, livelihoods, and more.

But with Distributed Denial of Service attacks, attackers intend to compromise numerous computers and other devices. DDoS attacks are coordinated to cause large-scale disruption and damage.

Attackers may use different types of DDoS attacks, such as:

  • Botnets: Botnets are groups of malware-infected devices under the control of one or more cybercriminals. Attackers use these to target almost any number of devices and make a massive
  • Ping of death: The ping of death attack type “pings” target systems with oversized IP packets. These will force those systems to freeze or crash — bringing companies and organizations to a standstill.

Phishing scams

In social engineering attacks, cybercriminals manipulate users into taking certain actions and/or sharing sensitive data that could lead to theft. Phishing is one of the most common types of social engineering scheme.

Phishing attacks manipulate victims into sharing confidential details, typically through email scams. Credit card information, banking data, passwords, and much more may all be exposed through sophisticated attacks.

Believe it or not, research shows that almost 70 percent of fraud phishing schemes are aimed at Canadians. These seem to be on the rise too!

Sadly, phishing emails can be incredibly convincing and bear many of the right elements expected in correspondence from banks, businesses, etc.

Homograph schemes

Homograph schemes are another form of social engineering attack.

Cybercriminals use homograph attacks to lure unassuming users to fake websites in an attempt to secure their money. They do this by building sites with similar addresses to legitimate ones. Many consumers may miss the tiny difference between the two addresses and purchase products.

The attackers will then have access to their details, the products will never arrive, and the customer may have no idea that their sensitive data has been exploited.

Trojan viruses

A Trojan virus is yet another type of social engineering attack. The reason for its name is obvious enough: a Trojan virus is disguised as an innocuous file ready to be downloaded, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Once this is downloaded onto a device, it can attack a targeted system and open a backdoor. Attackers can simply enter whenever they like and steal data or cause chaos.

Drive-by download attacks

Drive-by download attacks exploit OS or browser weaknesses. They begin when a hacker adds malicious scripts to websites using HTTP or PHP code.

Malware will be installed onto devices whenever a user visits an infected page, or the embedded script will direct them to a site that triggers the download.

Each of these cybersecurity threats poses a real risk to companies across Canada. With so many businesses and organizations switching to remote operations in 2020, workforces are more dependent on online tools than ever before.

That’s why it’s crucial to take cybersecurity seriously.

Experts with the best training, experience, and technologies can safeguard your company against common attacks. They can help to prevent downtime, financial loss, and reputational damage.

And GenX’s Information Security services are ideal for businesses looking to maximize their defenses against threats big and small.

Get in touch with our team to learn more today!

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