7 types of cyber security threats

7 types of cyber security threats

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Cyber security threats can be described as the actions taken by individuals with malicious intent that attempt to steal data or manipulate a computer for their own intensions.

What are cyber security threats?

This article outlines the 7 types of cyber security threats that most individuals and organisations face in 2022. This includes malware infection, Social Engineering, Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks, denial of service and phishing attacks. It articulates the types of threats and how to address them.

Cyber Criminal in a hood as part of the 7 types of cyber threat

Cyber threats can originate from many areas that are not confined by nations or political boarders, these include hostile state actors, terrorists, criminals or individuals who have a legitimate right to access information but perform malicious actions. Legitimate or trusted people can be defined as contractors or employees who have legitimate access to information.

Evolution of Cyber Security

Cybersecurity has evolved over time, driven by developments in technology such as the advent of the Internet and digital operations. To protect individuals, businesses or even a nation state an entire industry has risen with a primary goal to product our data from those adversaries with manicous intent.

Cyber security professionals are tasked with defending our computer systems and the data they store against the cyber-attacks that threaten them. It is very clear that cyber-attacks are targeting organisations on an unprecedented scale. The frequency and the sophistication is rapidly growing which increases the risk of a business becoming a victim of a successful cyber-attack.

There are multiple causes for cyber-attacks, with the vast majority instigated for financial gain. Cyber criminals might take your computer systems offline, demanding payment before reinstating your systems. Many organisations are asking what is security threats and its types? This article outlines 7 types of cyber security threats that pose the greatest risk most individuals or businesses in 2022.

What are the 7 types of cyber security threats?

1. Phishing Attacks

The first of the 7 types of cyber security threats is one of the most common faced by businesses. Phishing is a type of social engineering attack in which hackers send emails or text messages that appear to be from a trusted source in an attempt to trick people into clicking on malicious links or attachments. Hackers can use phishing attacks to steal sensitive information like login credentials, financial information, and confidential company data.

7 types of cyber security threats - Jon Cosson CISO

To protect your business (or yourself) from phishing attacks, educate your employees about how to spot phishing emails and train them not to click on links or attachments from unknown senders. You should also implement two-factor authentication for all sensitive accounts and use a secure email gateway to filter out malicious emails before they reach your employees’ inboxes.

Cybercriminals are becoming ever more resourceful, so you need to adopt a continual process of awareness training that focuses on the ever-changing threat landscape. Regularly and independently evaluate your staff to ensure they stay focused and understand the impact of opening and attachment or clicking on a link. This should be woven into the fabric of an organisation and is part of a cultural change that promotes good cyber hygiene.

2. Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware represents the 2nd of the 7 types of cyber security threats. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom payment in order to decrypt them. Hackers often target businesses with ransomware because they know businesses can’t afford to be without their data for a prolonged period. Ransomware attacks can cause major disruptions and financial losses for organisations, which is why it’s so important to have a robust backup and disaster recovery plan in place.

7 types of cyber security threats - Jon Cosson CISO

To protect your business from ransomware attacks, invest in cybersecurity awareness training for your employees and make sure they know not to open email attachments or click on links from unknown senders. You should also ensure that all your devices and data are backed up regularly so you can quickly recover if you do fall victim to a ransomware attack.

Ransom ware, Cyber attack concept. Warning message on a computer screen. Woman working with a laptop. Office business wood table background.

Invest in industry recognised anti-malware solutions that protect all your endpoints and your critical IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, one solution can’t fully protect a business, so considered a layered approach with cyber security solutions that overlap.

No organisation can ever claim to be fully resistant to a well-crafted and focused cyber-attack, but you can significantly reduce the risk of becoming infected or losing data by implementing some well-designed policies and protective controls.

3. DDoS Attacks

The 3rd of the 7 types of cyber security threats is a Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. DDoS attacks occur when malicious cybercriminals flood a network or a server with requests in an attempt to cause an overload or system crash. DDoS attacks can take down websites and disrupt services, causing major disruptions for businesses.

7 types of cyber security threats - Jon Cosson CISO

To protect your business from DDoS attacks, invest in a DDoS protection solution and make sure it is properly configured for your network. You should also monitor your network for unusual activity and have procedures in place so you can quickly respond if an attack does occur.

4. Social Engineering

A social engineering attack is a technique used to exploit the trust of an individual or organisation in order to gain access to information or systems that would otherwise be unavailable. Social engineering attacks can take many different forms, including phishing, vishing, and pretexting.

7 types of cyber security threats - Jon Cosson CISO

Phishing (as described earlier) is a type of attack that involves sending fake emails or messages in an attempt to gain access to a person’s sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details. The attacker typically disguises their identity by spoofing the sender address, making it appear as though the message is coming from a legitimate source.


Vishing is a type of attack that involves phone calls. The attacker may use voice-modifying technology to disguise their identity and make it appear as though they are calling from a legitimate organization.

7 types of cyber security threats - Jon Cosson CISO

They will then attempt to lead the target into providing sensitive information or access to systems by using social engineering techniques such as guilt, fear or flattery.

Pretexting is another type of attack in which an attacker sets up a false scenario or “pretext” in order to gain access to confidential information. For example, they may pose as a customer service representative in order to gain access to customer accounts or pretend to be conducting a survey in order to collect personal details

Social engineering attacks can be very difficult to detect, and Vishing is another common form of social engineering attack. In vishing the attacker uses voice calls instead of emails or messages to try and get victims to provide sensitive information or take actions that will give them access to the victim’s accounts. Visher’s may also use caller ID spoofing to make it seem as though they are calling from a trusted source, such as a bank, the police or government organisation.

5. Man in the Middle (MitM)

A man in the middle attack (MITM) is a form of eavesdropping where the attacker secretly relays and alters messages between two parties who believe they are directly communicating with each other. MitM is the 4th of the 7 types of cyber security threats described in this article and can be used to intercept, read, and even modify messages passed between the two parties. For example, an attacker could intercept a request from the client to the server and alter it before passing it along.

This could allow them to gain access to sensitive information or resources that they would not have otherwise been allowed to view or modify. By doing this, the attacker can effectively sit in the middle between two parties, completely undetected and able to manipulate their communications without either party’s knowledge. Additionally, an attacker may use MITM techniques to inject malicious code into webpages or applications, allowing them to take control of users’ machines without them realizing it.

7 types of cyber security threats - Jon Cosson CISO

MITM attacks are one of the most common forms of cyberattack today, as they can be used for a variety of malicious purposes including stealing data and credentials, hijacking user sessions, and spying on communications. To protect against MITM attacks, organisations should employ secure communication protocols such as TLS/SSL encryption, two-factor authentication, and proper network segmentation. Additionally, users should be aware of the signs of an MITM attack, such as receiving requests for authentication information more often than usual or unusual requests for personal data. By being aware and adopting good security practices, individuals and organizations can reduce their risk of falling victim to this type of cyberattack.

6. Insider threat

The 6th of the 7 types of cyber security threats is that posed by the insider. An insider can be described as a malicious adversary who is already inside an organisation, system, or network. These actors can be current or former employees, contractors, or business partners. They may have authorized access to sensitive information or systems, or they may hack their way in. Insiders are a serious cybersecurity threat because they often have knowledge of the organization’s vulnerabilities and how to exploit them.

A closeup of a person in gloves using the computer - concept of cybersecurity and threat of getting hacked

Insider threats can take many forms, including data theft and destruction, intellectual property theft, sabotage of systems or networks, and insider trading. They may also be involved in bribery or extortion schemes. Insider threats can cause serious financial losses for organisations, as well as the loss of confidential information that could be used to damage the organization’s reputation or give competitors an edge in the market.

Organisations should implement measures to detect and prevent insider threats such as effective access control policies, monitoring user activity on networks and systems, background checks on employees and contractors, and employee training programs about cyber security best practices. Organisations may also consider cybersecurity insurance coverage in case of a successful attack by an insider threat. While preventing all attacks is impossible, organisations can mitigate the risk by strengthening their security measures and being aware of the potential threats. By taking proactive steps to protect themselves against insider threats, businesses can reduce the chances of a successful attack and limit any damage caused by such an incident

Keeping data secure is essential for any organisation and protecting against insider threats should be taken seriously. Organisations must be aware of the risks posed by malicious actors inside their networks and take proactive steps to reduce the threat. With the right safeguards in place, organisations can help minimise the likelihood of an attack or contain any damage that occurs if one is successful. Taking all necessary precautions to prevent insider threats will go a long way towards keeping a business safe from these malicious actors and securing their sensitive information and systems.

7. Online exposure to stolen passwords

The 7th and final of the 7 types of cyber security threats focuses on passwords. Recent studies have shown that many people are still reusing the same passwords for multiple online accounts, and that this leaves them open to online exposure of their sensitive data. The study also relieved nearly one-third of internet users are using the same password for their bank accounts, social media pages and email accounts.

This means that if an attacker were to gain access to one of these accounts, they could easily gain access to all other associated sites and services with just one login attempt. Furthermore, many people are not changing their passwords often enough or making them secure enough, leaving them extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks

More research showed a shocking 72% of people did not use multi-factor authentication when logging into their email accounts. This is a major security risk as two-factor authentication not only adds an extra layer of protection, but also significantly reduces the chances of falling victim to a successful attack.

Stealing password concept. Gloved Hand, Binary code and Password word on laptop computer screen

So, what can be done to protect against these kinds of attacks? The first step is to use secure, unique passwords for all online accounts. It’s also important to enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible, and ensure that passwords are changed regularly (ideally every 3 months or so)

Finally, it’s worth investing in some form of cybersecurity software to monitor your online activity and alert you if any suspicious activity is detected. You may also wish to purchase an online Password Vault (Manager). This negates the need to remember long (secure) passwords as the Vault automatedly populates the password field on any device. Your passwords are encrypted and even if the Password Vault is compromised your password should be safe if you followed the guidance and made extremely complex.

By taking these steps, you can greatly reduce the chance of becoming a victim of cybercrime. crime. The Internet can be an unpredictable place and it’s important to stay vigilant in order to protect yourself from malicious attacks. By following the advice outlined above, you can ensure that your data stays safe and secure.


Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and malicious criminals (commonly known as hackers) are becoming more sophisticated in their methods. As a business owner (or an individual), it’s important to be aware of the types of the cyber security threats you may face so you can take steps to protect yourself and/or your business. Phishing, ransomware, and DDoS attacks are just three of the most common types of cyber security threats businesses face today, so make sure you’re prepared by implementing the tips outlined above.

You do no not need to become a victim of cybercrime, you can take actions to protect yourself and your business from a malicious attack. Choosing the right solutions to protect your data and the technology it relies upon is essential. Remember is unlikely one solution alone will ever fully protect a business, especially if the organisation is heavily reliant on technology.

There are some very powerful solutions on the market that include the latest Artificial Intelligence developments designed to quickly detect and protect your data.

You can’t however rely in the belief that you will never be attacked; you must therefore plan for the unthinkable so if it does happen you will be prepared. This includes regular protected backups and recovery procedures that are independently audited and verified.

Remember 99% of cybercrime is successful because we (all of us) do not implement what can be considered very basic controls. Don’t become a victim, significantly reduce the odds by following the advice within this article.

You may also find this article on the 6 Best Cyber Security Books useful

The national Cyber Security Centre provides additional guidance.

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With over three decades of experience in the heart of London’s financial sector, I have dedicated my career to the pursuit of robust cybersecurity practices and IT leadership. As a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table.

My journey in the field of cybersecurity has not only been about personal growth but also about sharing my insights with others. As an international speaker, I have had the privilege of addressing audiences worldwide, discussing the importance of cybersecurity in today’s digital age. My passion for knowledge sharing extends to my work as an author and blogger, where I delve into the complexities of cybersecurity, offering practical advice and thought leadership.

In my role as a CISO and Head of IT, I have overseen the development and implementation of comprehensive information security and IT strategies. My focus has always been on creating resilient systems capable of withstanding the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

My Master’s degree in Cybersecurity has provided a solid academic foundation, which, when combined with my practical experience, allows me to approach cybersecurity from a holistic perspective.

I am always open to connecting with other professionals in the field, sharing knowledge, and exploring new opportunities. Let’s secure the digital world together.