The internet has brought many great things to businesses and people across the world, giving them tools and capabilities that would not have been remotely possible just a short period of time ago. It has also, however, created a new breed of criminal – the cyber-criminal. The crimes these criminals commit are not victimless, and their attacks can often end up costing businesses untold amounts of time and money. Fortunately, the right cybersecurity software and protocols allow you to stay one step ahead of these keyboard crooks.
The first phase in defending yourself against their attacks, though, is understanding the types of threats that exist. With that in mind, here are the most common cybersecurity threats explained:
In a phishing attack, criminals create a web page or an email that’s created to look like it is coming from a trusted source. For example, the email may say it’s from Amazon, or the web page may look just like Facebook’s sign-in page. When you enter your information into these fake pages though, the information is captured and stolen by the people who created the phishing attack. Anytime you are redirected to a page that asks for your information, proceed with caution.
Most of these attacks will come through an email, and very few businesses will ever solicit your personal information through email. You can also check the exact address of the email to make sure the entity sending it is who they say they are. For example, Amazon will never send you an email from @gmail.com email address, but a criminal pretending to be an Amazon employee might.
A lot of different attacks fall under the umbrella of malware, and this is the most common threat that business owners will have to contend with. Malware is a term used to describe any type of malicious code that, when downloaded, attempts to steal your information or destroy your computer’s ability to function. These attacks can include viruses, trojans, and more, and the attack is usually initiated when you download an infected file. Thankfully, good antivirus software can alert you to the risk of most malware attacks and even remove the offending code if you have already downloaded it.
Ransomware is one way that criminals can use malicious malware to make a profit. Ransomware targets businesses with a virus that shuts down their entire IT infrastructure, rendering it useless. The criminal on the other end will then hold the business at ransom, agreeing to remove the virus and restore function to the business’s computers and network only if a sum of money is sent to them. As you can imagine, businesses who are losing a small fortune due to their network being non-operable are often more than willing to meet their attacker’s demands. With the right antivirus software, though, ransomware attacks shouldn’t be a concern.
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)
DDoS attacks involve a criminal sending mass amounts of traffic to your website at one time, flooding it with more traffic than your servers can handle and rendering it inoperable. Thankfully, you probably won’t have to deal with a DDoS attack unless your business is huge. Criminals who perpetrate a DDoS attack really don’t gain financially from it, and they are most often carried out as a form of protest against a government organization or a large corporation.
Password theft is where criminals attempt to steal your passwords, usually targeting the ones that would give them access to your financial accounts. What makes password theft an especially troubling threat is the fact that a criminal doesn’t have to gain access to your network or elicit any action on your end to steal your passwords.
Password cracking programs are highly advanced, and, with the right tools, criminals are able to crack simple passwords in a matter of minutes. The best way to protect yourself and your business against this is to always follow strong password procedures. Create lengthy passwords that are not made using words in the dictionary and consist of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. In addition to this, don’t reuse the same password for multiple sites, and be sure to change your passwords often.
Rouge “Antivirus” Software
Sometimes, you may get a message claiming that your device has been infected and that you need to download some security software to clear the threat. In reality, though, the file they are attempting to make you download is the attack itself. These rogue “antivirus” software attacks play on people’s fear that their device has been infected. Your real antivirus software, though, won’t require you to download anything new to eliminate a threat, and it certainly won’t do so in the fear-tactic type manner that most of these attacks are presented in.
Malvertising involves embedding malicious code within an online advertisement. Unfortunately, all you have to do is click on the ad for the virus to be downloaded onto your computer. Reputable sites won’t let malvertising ads stay up on their site, however, you’ll want to be careful clicking ads wherever you are. A good antivirus software will also be able to alert you if a website has a history of displaying malvertising ads.
Data Theft through Unsecured Connections
Wireless internet connections that are not password protected are vulnerable, and entering sensitive data while using one of these connections puts that data at risk. Criminals with just a little bit of know-how will be able to easily retrieve any info you input during a session on an unsecured connection. For this reason, it’s a good idea to limit your usage of unsecured wireless connections as much as you can. If you have to use an unsecured wireless connection, be careful not to enter any sensitive information while you are using it. For your own connections, be sure to password protect them with a strong password.
How can I stay Secured?
With all of the threats that are out there, it’s natural for business owners to be concerned. Many of these attacks can be completely debilitating to a business, costing it time, money, and customers. Thankfully, there are ways to keep yourself safe.
To start, you may want to consider a security assessment for your business. A professional security assessment can identify any gaps in your network’s security and provide you with comprehensive solutions to patch them.
Even if you don’t opt for a comprehensive security assessment, IT security professionals will be able to provide you with top-of-the-line software to keep your business safe from threats.
It’s important to keep in mind that these criminals prey almost entirely on the unprepared. By using the right tools and following the right procedures, you will be able to keep yourself safe from all of these different attacks.
If you would like to learn more about the services we offer to ensure our clients have rock-solid security, we invite you to contact us today!