Security is important right? But when things at your company are running smoothly, and no apparent attacks have been made, it’s easy to let security fade into the background.
We trust that our antivirus software (which may not even be up to date) will take care of business. If we aren’t careful, with just one simple click, your devices and information could easily fall victim to one of the numerous security threats lurking on the internet.
Did you hear about the sophisticated iPhone spyware discovered just months ago? The spyware was named “Pegasus” and by simply clicking a link received from a text message, the malicious software infected iPhones. It could gain access to track calls and contacts, collect passwords, read text messages and emails, record calls and trace the whereabouts of the user. Mike Murray, a researcher, called it “one of the most sophisticated pieces of cyber espionage software we’ve ever seen.” While antivirus and other programs can and will protect you to an extent, your best protection from these threats is the six inch space between your right and left ear. Here are five of today’s most common security threats–and how you can protect yourself.
Top 5 Cyber Security Threats
Free wifi! The ability to connect to the internet from almost any hotel, airport, restaurant, etc. has changed the way we do business. It is the on the go, traveling employees dream, right? Well, the characteristics that make it so desirable for us also makes it a goldmine for cyber attackers. The biggest threat is that the hacker will put himself between you and the connection point. Once he does this, all information will pass through him and be extremely vulnerable. There are a number of ways to protect yourself on a public wifi network. Perhaps the best is to set up a VPN, or virtual private network. While this is the most secure way, there are other free and simple ways that you can add an extra layer of protection. When browsing, connecting to websites through a secure connection (https:// instead of http://) can protect your information from hackers. Also, turning off your wifi connection while you are not using it will reduce the time you are exposed. Finally, use precaution when selecting a public wifi network. The network of a huge hotel chain likely has taken more security measures than a tiny, privately owned coffee shop.
Malware in Email Attachments
Email attachments are one of the biggest threats to any business, or anyone that uses email for that matter. They can cause a real headache for your IT department. The ability to add attachments such as pictures and documents to email makes it a great work tool, but it also facilitates cyber attackers who want to infect your device with malware. Malicious attachments could include trojan horses, worms, or other programs that could infect your device and steal/delete your information, or even encrypt your hard drive and hold it for ransom! (this is called ransomware) Once again, your own decision making is your best defense against these threats. Make sure your email client is not set to automatically download pictures or attachments, especially from unknown senders. Only download attachments from known senders that you trust, and preferably when you know what the attachment is. If you receive an email from an unknown sender, and feel the need to open it, talk to an expert who knows how to handle it, and make sure that it can’t infect your device. Also, protecting your email server and network with a product such as GWAVA will greatly reduce your exposure to these threats.
Phishing is another type of threat that is typically sent through email, but is becoming more common through social media as well. These messages typically appear to be from a bank or other service provider, and try to obtain your personal/sensitive information, such as passwords or your social security number. The same rules from above apply: if you don’t know the sender, simply ignore the email. Never enter your bank’s website from a link, and especially don’t enter passwords once you’ve done so. Also, whenever you enter sensitive information, check to see if the website is secure (https://) Finally, ask yourself, “what will happen if I don’t enter this information?” The answer. Nothing! Remember that phishers and scammers, much like phone extortionists, prey on fear and try to make their victims feel that bad things will happen if they don’t comply. If your bank really had urgent information for you, they would contact you in a different way, rather than through an insecure email.
Shoulder surfers use direct observation in order to obtain your personal information. Typical in crowded places, these cyber attackers train themselves to watch your screen and finger movements in order to steal passwords, usernames, pins, etc. Simply being mindful in public places here is a great preventative measure, as well as using more complicated passwords that are more difficult to steal.
Be extremely cautious of anything that is downloaded on the internet. File sharing websites, of course, pose a great risk for malicious software. While many of these threats are obvious to trained eyes, attackers have developed more sophisticated approaches to infect devices with their malware. For example, anyone who is familiar with computers knows the endless string of updates required from Adobe Flash Player. This makes it simple for hackers to disguise their attacks as just another one of those updates that users are accustomed to habitually downloading. Once again, you can defend yourself from these attacks by browsing in secure mode and by going directly to websites whenever downloading a patch, update, or any other internet download.