Perhaps the most common type of cyber attack is phishing—attempts to gain access to personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts, often by way of email, text messages, or phone calls. A major phishing attack on two tech giants, Facebook and Google, cost the companies more than $100 million over the course of two years (2013-2015) and shed light on just how risky this type of social engineering can be.
Phishing attempts can sometimes be quite sophisticated and may even appear to come from an entity or person that you know and trust. Scammers will often try to convince you of suspicious activity, report a problem on a personal account or, as was the case with Facebook and Google, ask you to make a payment on an unpaid invoice.
Although phishing is the general term used to describe this kind of cyber threat, it encompasses a number of other similar attacks including:
Baiting – What distinguishes this category of cyber attack from phishing is that it frequently begins with an enticing offer or reward, making those susceptible to this type of cyber threat more likely to engage.
Spear phishing – Some phishing attempts are unbiased and will try to lure in any victim they can. Spear phishing, on the other hand, takes its aim at a particular company or is organized with an attack specifically designed to take down that entity.
Whaling – Similar to spear phishing, this type of security threat is specifically targeted. A whaling scam attempts to deceive someone holding a high executive office such as a CEO or a COO.
#2 PDF Scams
PDF scams are another extension of phishing attacks. Instead of falsifying information in the body text of an email, this type of campaign manipulates victims by taking advantage of the trust users often place in the security of PDF files.
Hackers attach a separate, seemingly innocuous file to phishing emails. Victims are led to believe that the .pdf is part of standard business correspondence. To unlock access to the file, however, users will be prompted to enter login credentials that are later forwarded to the hacker at the other end.
Another fraud campaign that can be particularly misleading is a rootkit attack. The danger with this type of malware attack is that this malware can be embedded and installed within otherwise legitimate, trustworthy software. Perhaps just as unsettling is that they can exist on your device with or without your knowledge and can even take a number of different forms.
Here are a few to watch out for:
Memory rootkits – These rootkits attack the Random Access Memory (RAM) on your computer, inhibiting its overall performance. The upside to this cybercriminal activity, however, is that it can be fairly easily removed simply by restarting your computer.
Bootloader rootkits – The operating system on your device cannot be loaded without the help of a bootloader. This type of rootkit hacks your original bootloader, often allowing itself to go undetected.
Kernel-mode rootkits – These security breaches go straight to the heart of your device: the operating system. Hackers can replace your operating system with code of their own and use this intimate access to steal personal information.
Scareware is another tactic of social engineering that attempts to toy with its victims’ emotions. In this case, the target feeling is fear.
Scareware scammers create alarming pop-ups that falsely alert users about a threat to their computer system. They may warn you of a potential virus or, sometimes, an artificial scanner will even attempt to inform you of a number of viruses that have already been “detected” on your device.
These pop-ups may be constructed with threatening colors such as red or orange along with alarming symbols like exclamation points or hazard signs. They can be challenging for users to close out of.
A successful scareware attack that made headlines? Over the course of seven years, Office Depot and OfficeMax convinced consumers that their devices were infected with viruses and subsequently tricked them into purchasing unnecessary repair services. The office furniture and supply companies ended up having to provide refunds to customers valued at around $34 million.
As its name suggests, this cybersecurity threat holds data for ransom.
A ransomware attack will typically result in a data breach if not identified immediately. More specifically, it hacks a victim’s computer or laptop, encrypts the files making them inaccessible to the owner, and only returns ownership of them once a ransom has been paid.
Ransomware hackers tend to target organizations with limited security teams or large agencies that are able to pay the ransom quickly and in full. In typical ransomware cases, the cyber attacker will often demand that payment be made within 24 to 48 hours to recover the stolen sensitive data. The cyber criminal will then threaten that, if unpaid, the data breach will result in the permanent loss of all encrypted files.
How to Prevent Cybersecurity Threats
When looking at cybersecurity statistics in 2020 alone, the FBI reported a total loss of $4.2 billion as a result of cybercrime and fraud in the United States. To be sure your office does not fall victim to cybercriminal threats and attacks, set up security measures that make sense for your company and start implementing them as soon as possible.
Here are a few preventative steps you can take to avoid cybersecurity threats:
Secure your WiFi network – With so many devices hooked up to one WiFi network, a hacked connection could have the potential to spread quickly from device to device. Make sure your connection is secure by changing the default configuration, adding a new network name, setting up a guest network and creating a strong password.
Create separate employee accounts – Shared login information puts larger amounts of data at risk in one place. Keep your system secure by providing each employee in your office with their own unique set of login credentials.
Backup your important files – In the event that your files become compromised as a result of a cybersecurity attack, you’ll want to be sure you have them backed up. Make a copy of all of your important data and keep it in a secure external location. Your data backup is the most important layer in your security posture.
Put security management in the hands of the professionals – To ensure your systems are secure and to free up more time in your workday for other priorities, consider hiring a team of IT professionals to manage your security for you.
Keep Your Business Protected With Novatech
In a busy work environment, it can be hard to find enough time to stay on top of your office’s cybersecurity management needs. Take some of the weight off and leave it to the IT professionals at Novatech. Offering firewall management, security backups, and endpoint protection, our team of experienced specialists are committed to doing everything in our power to keep your office safe and secure.