9 Must-Know Data Security Threats and How to Combat Them

Companies across all industries are increasing their use of data and analytics. According to one study, 50% of
data and analytics leaders say business intelligence and analytics usage is increasing. What’s more, 25% of employees are now actively using business intelligence and analytics tools. 

On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see rising data usage and companies embracing data-driven strategies. But from a cybersecurity perspective, this is a troubling development.  

As companies store and leverage more data, they become bigger targets for cybercriminals. Indeed, companies today face an ever-changing cyber threat landscape, which is becoming more sophisticated and dangerous. 

This article serves as a cybersecurity primer, covering the following threats: 

  • Weak usernames
  • Evolving ransomware tactics
  • Rogue identities
  • SQL injection
  • Security misconfigurations
  • Unsecure mobile devices
  • Shadow apps
  • Phishing
  • Unsecure APIs

Read on to learn why data security is important and some tips to help keep your business safe from cyberattacks.


What Is Data Security?

Data security is the process of protecting sensitive information from threats and vulnerabilities. It applies to all parts of the data life cycle, from physical security to software applications. 

While it’s impossible to prevent cyberattacks and events entirely, businesses must anticipate and prepare for them. Taking active measures to enhance data security can limit damage during an attack and make it more difficult for intruders to launch successful campaigns.


Top Data Security Threats and How to Mitigate Them

A critical aspect of data security involves understanding emerging threats. Of course, this is no easy task—especially considering how quickly threats change.  

Staying up to date with the latest intelligence reports is critical for protecting your network. With that in mind, here are a few top data security threats to know about. 

1. Weak Credentials

Most companies today rely on usernames and passwords to authenticate digital services. However, nontechnical employees often wind up managing and deploying credentials manually. And this leads to issues like reusing passwords and using default credentials.  

It’s important for security leaders to oversee credential management and require strong credentials for all user accounts. Proper account hygiene can go a long way in protecting sensitive data.  

2. Evolving Malware Tactics

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways to deploy attacks against end users. In one recent example, a hacking group used a new code execution strategy that deploys malware when a user hovers their mouse over a link. In other words, they don’t have to click on the link to execute malware—all they have to do is inspect it. 

IT managers need to inform end users of evolving malware tactics to prevent threat actors from deploying attacks. At the end of the day, all users have a role to play when it comes to keeping networks safe.  

3. Rogue Identities

As businesses become more cloud-based, they are adding new human and nonhuman identities like AWS Lambda functions into the fold. When companies lose control over their identities, they can become security threats. Identities can silently take on excessive privileges and gain access to confidential information. 

Now more than ever, companies need to use identity access management (IAM) services that monitor, track, and restrict identities. With the help of an IAM platform, companies can prevent identities from gaining too much power and causing damage. 

4. SQL Injection

SQL injections remain a highly effective attack strategy for threat actors. In this type of attack, hackers use a SQL injection string to distribute commands into a web application. This enables them to pull data from databases and perform administrative actions. All websites that interact with SQL databases are at risk from this type of attack. 

There are a few steps that you can take to prevent SQL injection attacks. For example, using query parameters, restricting privileges, and conducting continuous scanning and penetration testing are all effective methods for preventing breaches. 

5. Cloud Security Misconfigurations

It’s common for companies to rush into cloud deployments. When this happens, teams can create misconfigurations—or gaps and errors—which open the door for threat actors to launch attacks. In fact, Gartner reports that 99% of cloud security failures are the customer’s own fault. 

To prevent cloud security failures, Gartner recommends implementing policies on cloud ownership, risk acceptance, and responsibility. It’s also necessary to have a central management and monitoring system in place for cloud systems. 

6. Unsecure Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are now a fundamental business tool, with workers relying on them for a variety of tasks and workflows. However, they can be a major threat to business operations. In fact, more than 40% of security incidents now stem from mobile devices.  

If you decide to offer company-owned mobile devices to employees, it’s critical to set up a mobile device management policy to govern the acceptable use policies and outline security best practices. Mobile device management policies make it easier to configure security settings and protect digital information. And if you allow employees to use their own devices, it’s important to set up a bring-your-own-device security policy. 

After you set up mobile management policies, remember to keep users in the loop about the latest threats, tactics, and procedures.   

7. Shadow Apps

Workers today depend on applications for everything from storing files and processing payments to collaborating with team members and automating workflows. However, not all applications are trustworthy. And oftentimes, employees use digital services without asking for IT’s permission, exacerbating the organization’s shadow IT problem.  

One of the best ways to eliminate shadow apps and limit usage is to create an acceptable application policy and offer services through a central store or hub. This enables users to request applications they want and access them through a secure and convenient portal that’s easy to monitor.  

8. Phishing

While phishing isn’t a new threat, it’s still very dangerous. Hackers still rely on social engineering attacks to trick employees into clicking on links, making payments, and surrendering login credentials. It’s not always easy or possible to detect a phishing attack, which is why it remains a go-to strategy for threat actors.  

Security leaders must recognize the ongoing danger that phishing poses and take steps to prevent successful attacks. This includes filtering harmful email traffic and training users to spot phishing messages and remain vigilant about threats.  

9. Unsecure APIs

Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow companies to integrate applications with third-party services. However, APIs are vulnerable to security threats and data exposure.  

To prevent data exposure, make sure you only provide data access to trusted parties. At the same time, companies must have full visibility into every API across the organization. Without complete visibility, it’s impossible to protect APIs from sophisticated attacks. 


About Traceable

Traceable is the industry’s leading API security platform that identifies APIs, evaluates API risk posture, stops API attacks, and provides deep analytics for threat hunting and forensic research. With visual depictions of API paths at the core of its technology, its platform applies the power of distributed tracing and machine learning models for API security across the entire software development lifecycle. Book a demo today.