Cyber threats are becoming more complex and dangerous by the day. No longer are malware threats restricted to viruses and worms that would infect PCs, leaving you with a slow computer and lost data. These days, we have advanced malware such as spyware and ransomware, which can lead to serious financial losses as well as the loss of critical data.
As individuals like us and the organizations we work for and lead, use PCs every day for a range of tasks, it’s essential that we’re aware of the different cyber threats that we may end up falling prey to. These cyber-threats are vicious and may steal your money with a simple click. It is a common misconception that cyber threats don’t impact small-scale organizations as much as they affect the larger ones. Fact is, hackers are always on the watch for lucrative targets, regardless of the scale of the organization.
Let’s get a better understanding of the top 5 cyber threats you need to be super cautious about:
Phishing attacks are considered one of the biggest cyber threats currently. In phishing attacks, the hacker pretends to be a trusted contact and sends an email with a malicious link, download, file, or attachment. As the user is under the impression that the email is from a known source, they end up opening the email and clicking on the malicious attachments. This gives the hacker access to the users network, PC, sensitive business information, passwords, account details, or credentials.
With time, phishing attacks have become more convincing and sophisticated and seem to be from credible, legitimate sources. There has been an increase in phishing attacks that steal the email account credentials of known contacts and send emails to users requesting payments fraudulently.
Depending on what information is accessed or how trusting the victim is, additional information may get accessed, things like credit card and debit card information, intellectual property, bank account info, mobile device settings, passwords, social security info and more.
It isn’t easy to combat phishing attacks as they use social engineering to target humans and exploit technological vulnerabilities in the PC. However, there are many security defenses that can not only spot phishing attacks, but also report them.
Ransomware is one of the most deadly and lucrative forms of cyber attacks. They have become increasingly common, as PCs and devices are now more susceptible to these malware attacks. This is especially true when the user isn’t taking full advantage of quality antivirus software and other security measures, which include a robust security suite that covers ransomware, two-factor authentication, password manager, and more.
When a PC is infected with malware, all the data and applications on the device are encrypted and cannot be accessed by the users. The hackers then withhold this confidential and critical data until the users transfer a hefty sum as ransom. Ransomware attacks leave users with no choice, as they have to pay the amount of ransom or suffer huge losses due to locked systems.
This means, in the event of fraud and coercion, business owners may not have access to their most critical data when they need it. They may lose access to important intellectual property, customer data and much more.
It is not possible to protect your devices completely from ransomware attacks. However, users should definitely consider backing up confidential data to protect it from ransomware hackers. You can implement cloud backup solutions along with other backup options to secure your data and protect company information. If you back up your data, you may not need to worry about recovering it with a ransom.
Weak, common passwords that can be easily guessed, are another security threat to your company. Relying on weak and outdated passwords can put your network and personal and business information at risk. This includes cell phones, social network accounts, social network contacts, computing devices, sale terminals, wireless network, credit card details, credit reports, additional wireless devices, and much more.
We have different accounts on different websites and applications. We also have credentials to access our computers and various accounts. These passwords are important as they help secure our accounts on different platforms. They protect information in our operating systems, subscriptions necessary to business practice, remote access points, our personal or professional financial institution info, credit card company and card data, access to mobile phones, personal writings and emails, private correspondence, and more. It is essential to set unique passwords for every account we access and not use the same password for different accounts.
A strong password uses letters, special characters, and numbers in unique combinations. Apart from strong and unique passwords, you can also implement multi-factor authentication. This will ensure that to access the account, you require not only the password but also other verification steps. You can link these additional steps to other devices such as smartphones. With this extra layer of security, the probability of hackers accessing critical accounts is very low.
Also, make use of a password manager. Password managers are superb tools that help you come up with secure passwords and do the work of securely storing and verifying your passwords so you can rest easy.
A surprising percentage of data breaches are the result of insider threats. This type of cyber threat is caused by carelessness from different stakeholders within your organization, such as employees, management, vendors, or contractors. These stakeholders can access critical and confidential data and then leak this information to interested parties, whether deliberate or accidental. This happens because of ignorance, carelessness, greed, or even malice and payback.
Data leaks caused by insider threats not only result in financial damages to an organization, but put companies and employees at risk. To curb insider threats, it is essential to educate stakeholders about cyber security and raise awareness about how to secure PCs and other devices from different cyber threats. This will also help them stay alert in case there is an attempt to gain unauthorized access to hack your system.
Malware attacks encompass different threats from different malware such as trojans, spyware, viruses, and worms. Malware is basically a malicious code that hackers across the world use to break into PCs and access critical, confidential, and private data. There are different sources of malware, and they are usually placed in infected websites, malicious attachments, links in email, malicious software, downloads, fake emails, fake links, and even spam emails. Malware has different effects on your computer once they enter and spread. The effects vary from slowing your performance to overheating your devices and even hijacking browsers.
Malware attacks can cripple PCs and devices if not dealt with immediately. They can also lead to the loss of both data and money for the users. It is advisable to have a reliable malware removal tool installed on your PC to ensure all your data is safe, secure, and protected. Apart from this, users need to remain aware of the newest cyber threats, so they don’t fall prey to more sophisticated versions of malware attacks.
We’ve mentioned the top five cyber threats every organization or individual needs to be on the lookout for. There are many security mechanisms that will help detect, identify and neutralize these threats. The very first step is to install a reliable, top-quality malware removal tool that will help secure your PCs and confidential data.
Updating your browsers, operating system, apps, and antivirus programs on your PC can also help to boost the security of your devices. Updates provide the latest security patches and measures to increase your protection. Make sure you know who’s using your Wi-Fi network. It’s important to have solid security on your Wi-Fi network and avoid using free, public networks when you can. Stay educated on the newest threats and security technologies. Lastly, work with experienced IT professionals to help you mitigate your risk and keep your business running without a hitch.
To learn more about cyber threats, check out our frequently asked questions below.
What are phishing emails?
In phishing, hackers usually impersonate popular organizations or people and send out malicious emails to unaware PC users. These contain infected links in email, or malicious attachments, infected documents, or buttons that lead you to pages containing viruses. When the user opens the email and clicks on any of these, they instantly get trapped in the phishing bait.
Phishing emails are mostly used to deploy deadly malware such as ransomware, spyware, or other dangerous security hazards. As users, it is advisable to be watchful and careful of the emails we open, as it can cause the loss of critical data or money. It’s important for business owners to implement company-wide email usage and security policies so every person knows how to keep the organization safe.
What are four indications of a suspicious email?
Phishing emails typically have a generic greeting and are not addressed to anyone in particular. They will always begin with a generic Sir/Ma’am. The email address of the sender is not official and will usually seem suspicious if you observe carefully.
Every phishing email is accompanied by an unsolicited attachment or link. They may also come with buttons that require you to click on them. Without clicking on them, you can note that the button would direct you to a random, unfamiliar webpage. These are some signs of a suspicious email, and it is advisable to steer clear of them at all costs.
What is the biggest cybersecurity threat in the world today?
While malware attacks of different types are pretty common these days, the biggest threat of them all are ransomware and phishing attacks. It is crucial to have good security mechanisms on your PCs and stay updated about how cyber attacks are changing and approaching users in more sophisticated, convincing forms. With due care and diligence, it is possible to keep the effects of cybersecurity threats to a minimum.
What are the different types of phishing?
Even under phishing, there are different types of threats. These include the standard email phishing (which we have discussed in detail), malware phishing, smishing, spear phishing, search engine phishing, vishing, pharming, clone phishing, and malvertising. Most phishing attacks involve emails. It is advisable to not open emails from unknown sources, and even if you do, don’t click on any links, buttons, or attachments that come with them.
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