While technology has revolutionized just about every aspect of modern life, it has also opened the floodgates to a new kind of threat that could do a lot of harm if the necessary precautions aren’t taken. Indeed, cyber threats can be quite a hindrance to the success of your company or business.
What makes this even worse is that cyber threats, on average, costs $200k in damages with more than half of the victims being small businesses and companies. Not to mention that massive data breaches have also exposed the data of billions of people due to the mishandling of cyberthreats.
Cyberthreats can lead to a slew of issues ranging from financial loss to the degradation of customer trust. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this. A huge part of protecting yourself from cyber threats stems from preparation.
Preparation, in this case, comes in two forms: knowledge and cybersecurity. Now, this can all be rather overwhelming especially it’s your first time tackling these concepts. To help you out, we’ve prepared a guide on the common cyberthreats and how to protect yourself from them.
Types of Cyber Threats
A cyberthreat is any deliberate act that takes advantage of vulnerabilities within your system to steal or compromise data or information. These are mostly motivated by financial gain but cyber threats can also be quite indiscriminate making anyone a potential target.
To better understand these threats, you must first familiarize yourself with the common types. This knowledge will help you protect yourself from falling victims to these cyber threats and can help you deal with them if such attacks do occur.
Social Engineering Attacks
Cyberthreats are all about taking advantage of vulnerabilities within your system. Many of you would probably be surprised to know that vulnerabilities aren’t always located in computers.
Social engineering attacks are cyber threats that are geared towards exploiting the human side of your operations through the use of elaborate strategies to gain access to your system.
When it comes to these forms of cyberthreats, it’s important that you’re able to recognize them before they are able to do harm. There are different types of social engineering attacks, all of them designed to trick you into compromising your system.
Phishing is one of the most common types of social engineering attacks. Phishing is the act of sending out emails with dubious links in order to gain access to your system. These links are usually designed to impersonate reputable organizations in order to earn the trust of whoever it is sent to.
The directness of phishing is what makes it so dangerous as this attack can be executed on a mass scale. In fact, the number of security breaches caused by phishing rose by 11% in 2019. Now, the effectiveness of this type of attack relies on the lack of information and can be easily corrected.
Malicious software or malware is software that is developed by cyber attackers to gain access or to damage your system. What makes malware so dangerous is that it can often remain undetected if you aren’t using the right software to combat it.
The severity of the damage that malware can do to your system varies wildly. Some malware can be a nuisance that can disrupt your everyday operations, while others can critically damage or even steal valuable information from your computer.
Trojan malware might be the most prevalent type of malware. Trojan malware is disguised as normal software in order to trick users into installing it. Once the Trojan malware is in your system, it can do everything from stealing your information to turning off anti-malware software.
If this doesn’t seem worrisome to you yet, it’s important to note that the U.S. government has spent billions of dollars to protect their systems from hacks only to be compromised by Trojan malware from Russian hackers.
When it comes to protecting yourself from malware, a good mix of cyber hygiene and installing the right software are needed. However, due to new malware being developed at a rapid pace it’s important to ensure that the software you are using is up to date for optimal protection.
A distributed denial-of-service attack or DDoS is the act of flooding a network or server with internet traffic in order to crash their system. The influx of traffic can drastically slow down your system and in worse cases can even take it offline altogether.
Out of all the common types of cyber threats, DDoS attacks are the least discreet, as you’ll most likely be able to notice it happening once it’s been executed. It can also be the most disruptive for you, as it can make your system inaccessible until the attack has been managed.
The severity of a DDoS attack all depends on the amount of traffic that the cyber attackers can send your way. One of the biggest DDoS attacks in history was perpetrated against GitHub back in 2018 when their platform was flooded with 1.35 terabits per second causing intermittent outages.
How to Protect Yourself From Cyberthreats
While the vast number of threats can be quite intimidating, there are ways to protect yourself from them like getting a cyber liability insurance. Now, it’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to cyber threats. However, there are ways to deter the most common cyber threats.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of basic strategies that’ll improve the overall level of your cybersecurity. These strategies range from basic cybersecurity training to making use of software to protect your system from potential threats.
Conduct Cybersecurity Training
One reason why people fall victim to cyberthreats is due to a lack of knowledge. In fact, 43% of employees lack regular cybersecurity training. This puts both them and the organization that they are a part of at risk of falling victim to cyber threats.
Having sufficient knowledge about basic cybersecurity is vital to protecting yourself from all kinds of cyberthreats. This is why it’s in your best interest to regularly conduct cybersecurity training sessions for yourself and the people who have access to your system.
Training will include good cyber hygiene practices that’ll help prevent different types of social engineering attacks. This sort of training can help you discern whether or not you’re being subjected to phishing attacks and can help you better recognize dubious links.
This type of training can also impart cybersecurity best practices such as regularly changing your passwords and making use of two-factor authentication. Given that new types of cyber threats come up regularly, it’s important that you hold training sessions regularly as well to keep up with new threats.
While these adjustments may seem negligible, they can be the main difference when it comes to preventing cyber threats. Remember that instilling a culture that prioritizes cybersecurity can be just as effective as any piece of software.
Make Use of the Right Software
Considering how intertwined modern life is with digitization, you’d expect everyone to have software that protects them from cyberthreats. However, only 12% of internet users say that they’ve ever used any form of cybersecurity software.
If you do make use of cybersecurity software you have to make sure that you update it regularly to be able to fend off newer and more complex cyber threats. While this may seem trivial, updates are made to patch out vulnerabilities within the software that cyberattackers may capitalize on.
Making use of a virtual private network or VPN can also go a long way when it comes to securing your system. VPNs allow you to access your network and resources in a secure manner. This can be particularly useful when you’re working from outside of your office.
Lastly, password management software can help you secure your accounts and give you an easy way to change your passwords regularly. This helps you minimize the risk of any of your accounts being compromised. A good rule of thumb would be to change your passwords once a year.
Backup and Encrypt Data
Aside from doing your best to protect yourself from cyber threats, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re prepared for when you fall victim to one. A great way to do this would be to backup and encrypt the data on your system.
While it should be a no brainer, many companies nowadays still need to be reminded to backup and encrypt their data. In fact, Facebook was appropriately called out for storing millions of unencrypted passwords on their internal servers which put millions of their users at risk.
Having backups of your data is a great way to ensure that a cyber threat can’t cripple you if it ends up wiping out the data on your system. Encrypting it takes this a step further, as it can help prevent cyberattackers from accessing your data even in the case of a breach.
We hope that you’ll be able to use the things you learned here to better protect your business or company from cyberthreats. Have any questions? Comment below!