Unfortunately, just like in the real world there are criminals online hoping to find a weakness and exploit it. You can’t turn a blind eye and just hope that you aren’t a victim. The same reason you put your seat belts on when you get into the car, just in case. You need to make sure that you have your cyber security addressed and safety precautions in place. Even with all of the precautions, it doesn’t mean that cyberattacks can’t happen. We should all do our best to make sure that we have websites, emails, and personal information locked down. Even large businesses and the government have been comprised. It can truly happen to anyone.
What is a cyberattack?
According to Wikipedia, A cyberattack is any offensive maneuver that targets computer information systems, computer networks, infrastructures, or personal computer devices.
Some of the most common cyberattacks
This is one of the most common types of cyberattacks. “Malware” refers to malicious software viruses including worms, spyware, ransomware, adware, and trojans. The attacker installs unwanted software or programs that intentionally damage computers. This could mean deleting files, stealing personal information, and also spreading it to other systems. There are lots of different forms.
Phishing attacks are also widely used email cyberattack strategies. The attacker essentially impersonates someone else who is a trusted contact and sends the victim fake emails. It can look so similar it takes an extra step to verify. Criminals use these fakes to get money, passwords, and possibly even your account details.
Ransomware is malware that uses encryption to deny access to resources (such as the user’s files), usually in an attempt to try and get the victim to pay a ransom. Once a system has been infected, files are irreversibly encrypted and accessible.
Pharming is a type of cyberattack that sends a user to fake a website that is designed to look like the real website. A hacker infiltrates a computer system and installs code that redirects the traffic to a bogus website The user types in the legitimate web address but it forwards to a fake website that looks almost identical. This way they can gain access to financial and personal information, They will infect computers with viruses, malware, or other malicious software. Always check the website address and make sure the address is where you intended to go.
This can happen on a database-driven website such as any content-managed website, like WordPress for example. When the hacker manipulates the code, it injects malicious code into a vulnerable website making the server (the computer where your website holds the files, AKA, the host) reveal crucial information.
Denial of Service Attacks
A Denial-of-Service Attack also known as a DDoS is a significant threat to companies. Attackers target systems, servers, or networks and flood them with traffic to exhaust their bandwidth and resources. This overwhelms the server computer and many times it can lead to a total shutdown.
Man in the Middle Attacks
A Man-in-the-Middle Attack (MITM) is an eavesdropping intrusion. In this attack, a cyber attacker comes in between a two-party communication. The attacker hijacks the session between a client and a host. By doing so, hackers steal and manipulate data. This is often done through a spoofed IP address, where the hijacker disconnects the client and requests information as if they were the host.
What can I do to help prevent a cyberattack?
Make sure that you enable multi-factor Authentication for all bank accounts, financial services, and anything that has personal information. This is also called two-factor authentication.
It requires users to provide two different authentication factors to verify themselves. This proves to be a vital step to secure information. Besides providing your password, a unique code will be sent to either a phone or email. This must be used in addition to your password. This provides an extra layer of protection.
Make sure to use long and unique characters. Don’t use your kids or dogs’ names unless it includes different characters and numbers. Change passwords frequently! Don’t share your passwords or give them to anyone but a trusted source. Don’t just use one password for every online account, use different passwords for your accounts.
Update your browser
The latest browser versions have built-in protection that helps protect against fake websites and viruses. This is the biggest reason to keep your browser up to date. Do not use an old browser such as Internet Explorer. See the post on that subject here. As of June, it now redirects a user to Microsoft Edge.
Update both your operating system and applications regularly. This is a primary prevention method for any cyberattack. This will remove vulnerabilities that hackers tend to exploit. Use trusted and legitimate Anti-virus protection software.
Unknown email senders
Avoid opening emails from unknown senders. Scrutinize the emails you receive for loopholes and significant errors. Do not download anything that you were not expecting and make sure that it’s from a verified, trusted source.
Anti-virus, Malware detectors, and Firewalls
Install anti-virus software, firewall, and malware detection programs. Make sure to download the updates regularly.
Use a VPN
VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” A VPN encrypts the traffic between the VPN server and your device. This blocks your identity and internet activity. You can go the extra mile and access your banking and financial account using this. Google offers a free one for Chrome found here
Don’t forget mobile devices
Safeguard your mobile devices as they can also be a target for cyberattacks too. Install apps from only legitimate and trusted sources, and make sure to keep your device updated.
It is ideal to have three copies of your data on two different media types and another copy in an off-site location (cloud storage). In the event of an intrusion, you can erase your system’s data and restore it with a recently performed backup.
We have not discussed anywhere near the different types of attacks that are out there but these are currently the most common. The cost of these attacks is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. Make sure that you protect yourself! Address your cyber security today!