The Cyber Threat Landscape in Cyprus

The Cyber Threat Landscape in Cyprus

A Constant Battle Against Growing Threats

The rise of cyber-attacks against public and private entities in Cyprus is a growing concern that is not expected to abate anytime soon. Cyber criminals are not just targeting large organizations, but also smaller ones, which may have weaker cybersecurity measures in place, making them an easier target. Moreover, attackers prioritize disrupting an organization’s business continuity, which can cause significant damage. Learn more about the Driving Factors behind the Increase.

All organizations, regardless of their size, are at risk of cyber-attacks.

Cyprus, like any other country, is not immune to cyber threats. Attackers do not recognize borders, and a mass scan of IPs for vulnerability detection and exploitation is an example of how attackers view the entire digital world. The below types of attacks, are increasingly being observed in Cyprus:

Email Financial Frauds

One of the most common types of attacks is email financial fraud, where malicious actors gain access to emails (usually through phishing) and view an organization’s financial transactions. They then attempt to deceive both parties into, for example, making payments to a supplier’s different IBAN numbers. This type of attack highlights how attackers rely on social engineering tactics to deceive and manipulate their targets.

Data Extortion Attacks

Another common method observed in Cyprus is data extortion attacks, where attackers infect organizations with ransomware or steal their data, threatening to disclose it unless a ransom is paid. Attackers often gain access to internal networks (via VPNs) that do not have multi-factor authentication and exploit vulnerabilities and weaknesses such as unpatched/misconfigured systems, bad segmentation, etc., to elevate their privileges and pivot locally. In some cases, attackers manage to gain administrator network rights (domain admin). These attacks are often the result of a sequence of events and weaknesses that lead to their success.

Brokers and Island-Hopping Attacks

Once attackers gain access to an organization, they often act as brokers and sell access to other criminal organizations. Alternatively, they exploit the access they have gained and use it for their own purposes. Attackers also use island hopping attacks, where they enter one organization and use the communication channel between two organizations to gain access to the other. In this way, they can move from one organization to another, making protection of one’s own infrastructure a critical component in protecting the wider community.

How to Prepare and Respond to Cybersecurity Incidents

When a cyber-attack occurs, time is of the essence. The longer it takes to identify and respond to an incident, the greater the potential for damage to an organization’s systems and data. That’s why having a well-defined incident response plan in place is crucial. Incident response is a process that focuses on quickly responding to incidents to limit their impact and help the organization recover as quickly as possible. It is an important part of incident management, which aims to prepare organizations to respond effectively to a cyber-attack.

Effective incident response is a critical aspect of incident management that requires a well-prepared response plan. Organizations must have a clear understanding of the roles and procedures required to respond quickly and effectively to any cyber-attack. A well-defined incident response plan helps to minimize the impact of a security incident, enabling teams to identify, contain, analyze, and eradicate the incident in a timely and effective manner. The plan should also outline the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in the response effort, ensuring a coordinated and efficient response to the incident.

Furthermore, organizations should conduct regular training and testing to ensure that the incident response plan is effective and up-to-date. This can include simulated incident response scenarios to test the team’s readiness and identify any weaknesses in the plan.

The Three Pillars: People, Process, and Technology

As we all know, humans can be the weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity. That’s why it’s crucial to put safety barriers and mechanisms in place to prevent mistakes or stop them in their tracks if it happens. This includes measures such as limiting access to sensitive data and systems, implementing strict password policies, and conducting regular security awareness training for employees.

Security awareness training is particularly important because it helps employees understand the risks of cyber-attacks and learn how to identify and respond to potential threats. This can include training on how to recognize phishing emails or other social engineering tactics, as well as how to properly handle sensitive information and use technology securely.

Managing emerging digital risks in all operational aspects of your organization, from people to processes and technology, is key to achieving cyber-resilience.

Protecting your organization from cyber threats isn’t just about people – it’s also about processes and technology. All incidents of cyber-attacks that we see on a daily basis are the result of a sequence of events. For example, a breach can occur due to a mistake in setting up an application, resulting in vulnerabilities that have not been detected because necessary checks such as a penetration test have not been conducted. In addition, the lack of periodic checks and continuous 24/7 monitoring for attack detection can also leave an organization vulnerable. To achieve cyber-resilience, it’s important to manage risks in all operational aspects of your organization, from people to processes and technology.

How to Build an Effective and Applicable Cybersecurity Strategy to Become Cyber-Resilient

To become cyber-resilient, organizations need to build an effective and applicable cybersecurity strategy. But what does it mean to be cyber-resilient? It means adopting a holistic approach to cybersecurity that allows organizations to anticipate, withstand, adapt to adverse conditions, and quickly recover from disruptive attacks.

It’s essential to understand that cybersecurity is not just about implementing a single technology or conducting training sessions. It requires a holistic approach that involves every aspect of the organization, including people, process, and technology. Continuous follow-up is also crucial in cybersecurity. Without 24-hour monitoring, organizations cannot know if they are under attack or if their data is being compromised. It’s important to have systems and processes in place that can detect and respond to threats in real-time. Upper management and IT need to work together to understand the importance and criticality of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Cybersecurity is no longer just a technology issue. It’s a business issue that needs to be integrated into an organization’s overall business strategy.

The first step towards defining your Cybersecurity Strategy is being aware of your organization’s Threat Landscape and Cybersecurity Maturity Level (CML). A Cybersecurity Maturity Assessment utilize best practices and frameworks to identify weaknesses in key areas in organization’s Cybersecurity program while considering its Business Objectives & Strategic Goals.


Alexandros Kaniklides, Manager, IthacaLabs™

Andreas Constantinides Manager Professional Services