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Security | 3 min read

Beware of These 4 Most Common Cyberattacks

Will Lidwin
Written by Will Lidwin

Hackers will try every deceptive tactic they can find to steal data, disrupt businesses and hold systems hostage. And some cybercriminals don’t have to try very hard. Unfortunately, many businesses lack proper security protocols, leaving their networks susceptible to data breaches and malicious attacks.

The reality is, cyberattacks aren’t going away. This is especially true given the increase in remote work and mobile connectivity over the past few years as we’ve adapted to the changing world. Individuals and organizations must remain vigilant and aware of the different types of attacks criminals are capable of to help protect themselves and their sensitive information.

Increase your knowledge by understanding these four types of cyberattacks and the various methods hackers will use to hijack your systems or steal data.

1. Phishing Scams

Some hackers don’t need to rely on cracking sophisticated code to gain access to a company’s network; all they need is an unsuspecting employee who clicks on a potentially damaging link or email attachment. Employee error is a primary contributor to allowing cybercriminals in the virtual door to access personal information or company data, and not recognizing a phishing email can be extremely damaging.

Phishing scams are a type of social engineering attack that appears to come from a trusted source and can trick users into granting system access to cybercriminals. Given how many emails are in the mix every day, phishing scams are an omnipresent threat, and the best defense against them is to educate employees on what clues to look for.

Read More: 10 Ways to Spot Phishing Email Scams

2. Malware or Ransomware

Once a hacker gains access to a network, malicious code and software — also known as malware or ransomware — can be installed to hold your systems and your data hostage, or spread to other victims to corrupt files and make them unusable.

Increasingly, a user may not even be aware that malicious software was remotely installed, and the cybercriminal could secretly eavesdrop on a network and steal personal data and intellectual property. By the time the intrusion is discovered, it’s usually too late.

Ransomware, a form of malware, can disable an entire network and cripple an organization. Hackers demand payment in exchange for restoring the system, yet there’s no guarantee they actually will once you pay up. It’s important to take proactive measures to prevent malware and ransomware attacks.

One of the biggest invitations to a malware or ransomware attack: outdated computers, software that hasn’t been updated, and legacy servers without proper firewalls. Unsecured Wi-Fi or unsecured devices that have access to your networks, such as office printers, mobile devices, tablets and so on, are also susceptible.

Hackers can easily exploit systems that aren’t equipped with the latest antivirus protections and software updates, so as soon as they become available, make system updates a priority.

3. Compromised Passwords

Weak passwords create another major avenue for security breaches. Hackers use software to automatically generate thousands of potential password combinations in an attempt to “guess” system passwords and gain access. Many employees fail to update default usernames and passwords or use common words or phrases that are easily deciphered.

Adding insult to injury, many people use the same password for multiple accounts, applications and online services. This can increase the severity of a cyberattack, giving hackers access not only to a company’s internal systems, but its online platforms and services, too.

Implement best practices for securing passwords, such as using a variety of characters and unique word combinations to lessen the likelihood of an attack. Current password recommendations are to change them annually and whenever it’s suspected that a password was compromised.

It’s also recommended to implement two-factor authentication, also known as multi-factor authentication, for an added layer of security to confirm the person trying to log in is the real deal.

4. DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service)

Sometimes hackers will gain access to a computer or an organization’s server and overload it with traffic, triggering a crash or making its website or networks inaccessible.

As its name suggests, a DDoS attack denies service to legitimate users (e.g., employees, members, website visitors, account holders, etc.). Such an attack could be an act of revenge or, more commonly, an attempt to extort money from the victim.

Increasingly, however, hackers aren’t necessarily requesting payment. Instead, they render systems unusable for short periods of time — as little as five minutes — to bypass firewalls and steal data or install malware to remotely monitor systems, often undetected. By the time IT gets systems up and running, the hackers have done their damage.

What makes a DDoS intrusion even more complex is that the intruder uses multiple systems to orchestrate a synchronized attack from several locations at once, making it more difficult to detect the location of the attack or identify the culprit.

Know the signs to look for, such as unusual traffic patterns or slowing of systems, and rely on protection solutions that can monitor your network in real time to mitigate the risks.

How Prepared Are You for a Cyberattack?

These common cyberattack tactics aren’t the only ways hackers can infiltrate your systems. As technology advances, so too will their methods. It’s an ever-changing landscape, and we all need to be prepared to evolve and keep up to date with cybersecurity best practices.

How prepared is your organization for a potential cyberattack? We’ve developed a cybersecurity risk assessment that takes just a few minutes and will give you an idea of your level of preparedness against the kinds of attacks we’ve discussed here. All you have to do is answer a few key questions, then you’ll receive an email with your results and suggestions for next steps.

It’s free, so we invite you to click the link below and take the assessment today.

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