One of the most challenging aspects of cybersecurity is the constantly evolving nature of security risks. The process of keeping up with new technologies, security trends, and threat intelligence can be overwhelming, especially for individuals and businesses who do not have an information technology professional on staff. However, it’s necessary in order to protect information and other assets from cyber threats, which take many forms.

4 Common Cyber Threats

  • Ransomware is a type of malware that involves an attacker locking the victim’s computer system files — typically through encryption — and demanding a payment to decrypt and unlock them.
  • Malware is any file or program used to harm a computer user, such as worms, computer viruses, Trojan horses and spyware.
  • Social engineering is an attack that relies on human interaction to trick users into breaking security procedures in order to gain sensitive information that is typically protected.
  • Phishing is a form of fraud where fraudulent emails are sent that resemble emails from reputable sources; however, the intention of these emails is to steal sensitive data, such as credit card or login information.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Against Malicious Cyber Attacks

Businesses and individuals can benefit from taking these 5 steps to prevent cyber attacks.

1. Set Secure Passwords
The keys to our digital world are passwords, which should be closely protected. Many times, that’s all a cybercriminal needs to gain access to your account. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers making sure they are at least 8 characters long. The more symbols and characters the more difficult to guess. Use Two-Factor Authentication whenever possible. Change your passwords often!

2. Learn How To Spot and Avoid Malware
You hear that term everywhere, however, it can mean so many different things. Malware is more of an umbrella term used for any kind of malicious software on the Internet. Malware that is malicious in nature aims to steal data from your machine, cause data corruption or will allow an attacker to take over the user’s computer. Email is one of the main infection methods. Be wary of unexpected emails, especially if they contain links and/or attachments. The best protection against this threat is to be proactive in your own cyber defense. Keep your operating system and other software updated. Remember to back up your system regularly in case you must rollback after an attack.

computer hacker wearing white mask and holding laptop

Setting strong passwords and keeping your data private helps prevent malicious attacks from hackers.

3. Get Mobile Protection
There are just as many threats on mobile devices as there are with computers. With the popularity of smartphones and tablets on the rise, they are becoming more of a target to cybercriminals. Since we’re starting to use our smaller devices as we would a desktop or laptop computer, more of our personal data is stored on these devices and thieves are taking notice. Set strong passwords, use Two-Factor Authentication whenever possible and set your screens to lock after 2 min. Be sure to turn on “Find My iPhone or iPad” in case your device is lost or stolen. Remember to back up your device regularly.

4. Care About Privacy
If this isn’t an issue for you, it should be. A lot of people take the stance of “I don’t do anything wrong, therefore I have nothing to hide.” However, that is not true. You have everything to hide. So many apps, websites and services we use online today host a lot of data about their users, which is a goldmine for a cyber criminal. Closely monitor your bank accounts, credit reports and any other financial accounts you may have. Change your passwords often!

5. Avoid Online Scams
Scammers are the bottom of the barrel of Internet criminals. Online scams require very few technical skills to execute, yet so many people fall prey to them. You can find online scams everywhere today, from social media platforms to our private email accounts. Be skeptical, be suspicious, always check the link before clicking. In addition, you should never download anything without researching it first. Even friends and relatives can be hacked and send out malicious attachments or emails, not knowing they were hacked. Pay special attention where you enter your credentials on the internet. Only enter them on sites you know and trust.

As technology becomes more and more deeply integrated into our lives, we become more and more dependent on it. But this dependence makes us vulnerable if technology fails. In today’s world, it’s important that technology is available, protected and secure. If not, we will suffer consequences in our daily lives.

Is Your Business Protected, If You Experience a Cyber Loss?

In the age of wireless communications, conducting business electronically is the norm. Could your business withstand not having cyber liability coverage for potentially damaging cyber losses such as computer virus transmission, disclosure of personal information, or other serious breaches? Contact a Healy Group Commercial Insurance & Risk Management advisor today to learn more about cyber liability protection for your business.

About the Author

Jenny Nijak, Director of Information Technology and Administrative Associate

Jenny Nijak has over 30 years in Information Technology. She enjoys assisting Healy Group with its information technology needs as well as implementing processes to protect the organization from cyber threats.