cyber security enemy

Understanding Your Cyber Security Enemy

‘Enemy’ might seem like a striking title for an Information Security related article however, it is a very important aspect of protecting ourselves from threats. 

Sun Tzu, a Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher, once said: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

This quote is true when it comes to information and cyber security. Understanding the threat actors, their motivations, and what they want to achieve is critical in protecting your organisation from them. 

In this blog, Matt Riley, Director of Transformation and Security at Sharp UK, explores the different cyber security ‘enemies’ organisations face in today's digital world.

Recreational Threat Actor 
At the lowest level of sophistication, recreational threat actors often seek fame and notoriety but have limited technical resources. 

They will often use “off the shelf” tools, such as Ransomware as a Service (RaaS), or take advantage of known exploits. 

Despite their simplicity, these tactics can have significant impacts, as seen in the rise of ransomware attacks. Their actions highlight the necessity for robust cyber security measures.

Cyber criminals, driven by diverse motives ranging from financial gain to ideological agendas, exploit vulnerabilities in digital systems for malicious purposes. 

They too have limited technical capabilities with the aim of petty crime and vandalism. As technology advances, so do their methods, posing ongoing challenges for cyber security professionals and organisations worldwide.

Hacktivists intend to make a statement with their actions; often for social or political causes. They are often highly motivated and can be part of vast networks.

Motivated by activism, they target government agencies, corporations, or other entities to expose corruption, advocate for human rights, or protest against policies. While some engage in non-destructive actions like website defacements or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, others may resort to more disruptive tactics.

The group ‘Anonymous’ are well-known hacktivists and have been attributed to hacking several Russian state TV Channels in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Organised Crime
Next on the sophistication hierarchy comes Organised Crime. Their focus is typically economic gain and they back this up with significant technical resources and capabilities. 

These groups often provide/sell tools to hack organisations and undertake the work themselves.

The Lazarus Gang is famous for its WannaCry attack and the Sony Pictures Leak where they seized terabytes of sensitive information and held Sony to ransom.

For small and medium-sized businesses, these gangs pose the greatest threat as they target this sector specifically. 

State Sponsored
State Sponsored threat actors are covert groups backed by governments to conduct cyber espionage, sabotage, or warfare.

With substantial resources and advanced capabilities, they target rival nations, critical infrastructure, or corporations to steal sensitive information, manipulate public opinion, or disrupt operations.

Their sophisticated tactics, often involving malware implants, zero-day exploits, or social engineering, pose significant challenges for cyber security defences, highlighting the complex landscape of cyber conflict.

At Sharp UK, we are dedicated to protecting ourselves and safeguarding our clients against the ever-evolving threats posed by cyber adversaries. Through a multi-layered approach including security audits, firewall protection, Cyber Essentials, and 24/7 IT support and helpdesk, we ensure that our clients remain resilient against cyber attacks. 

By staying informed and educated about emerging threats, implementing state-of-the-art defensive measures, and encouraging organisations to embrace a culture of cyber security awareness, we empower clients to navigate the digital landscape with confidence, providing peace of mind in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Learn more about our cyber security solutions here.