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The 101 on Cyber Threats And How To Avoid Them

October 29, 2016

Cybersecurity is the burning issue of our age. As our lives migrate online and with more and more data on cloud servers, it’s really not surprising that cybercrime has become an incredibly lucrative profession. However, where there are security issues, there are ways to address them.

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Nitty Gritty Tips For The Average User

Since the days of Kevin Mitnick, most hacking has been performed via social engineering attacks. Find a gullible person and trick them into revealing their information. The same principle applies now.

Clicking on links or attachments in e-mails that seem to be sent by your bank or by a person you don’t know is a sure way to give a hacker a backdoor access into your system.

It goes without saying, but do NOT use your birthday as your password, it’s one of the easiest things to crack, especially if hackers have done their homework and did proper social engineering research (see above). Use complex and different passwords. If you use the same password for multiple services, then you risk being completely compromised when one of them gets cracked or figured out. Password manager software is an excellent alternative to having to remember a lot of complicated passwords.

Two-factor authentication is another safeguard implemented by various companies. By adding another step to the login procedure (such as an app or SMS notification), you all but eliminate the chance of a security breach.

Another common sense tip is antivirus software. Any is better than none, and minimally slowing down your system by running an antivirus in the background is a small price to pay for peace of mind. So, if you can’t afford paid options, at least install free versions. That’s usually enough to greatly increase your personal system security.

Always keep your software up to date. Mandatory and automated updates may be annoying, but they can save you a lot of grief when it comes to security vulnerabilities. A lot of updates contain vulnerability fixes that you will need if you want your system to remain secure.

Lastly, you can’t lose what you don’t have. So, be careful about the kind of information you store on your computer and what you share online.

Advanced Tips For The Corporate Level

As pretty much every business has an online component, at least a modicum of attention needs to be paid to potential security threats. Most of the advice given above also applies to businesses, it’s just that potential damage incurred increases with a business’ size.

Establishing a comprehensive corporate cybersecurity policy is a must. It should entail all of the “basic tricks” mentioned above, and the importance of safety should be drilled into your employees. Identify your vulnerabilities and tempting targets and figure out a way to minimize any threats you may face.

shutterstock_313643477If a password management system is unwieldy, you can implement a password change policy. Each employee will be prompted to enter a new password after a set period of time. This will greatly decrease the chance of personal passwords being breached via social engineering attacks.

Make sure to limit access to corporate network to authorized devices only. If the employees are allowed to connect to the company’s cloud servers using their own phones, and those phones get stolen, your entire system may end up compromised. Be prepared for your precautions to fail. Whether through hacker ingenuity, a software loophole or plain human error, always have a plan ready for the eventuality that your cybersecurity plan will be breached. If you detect an attack in its early stage, you might be able to foil it altogether; but only if you have a procedure in place to do so.

Tips For The Big Boys

This is where really impressive toys come into play. With cyberattacks and espionage becoming ever more important, nation-states must take care of their interests, and defense against the same is a pressing matter.

The watchword of the nation-level cyber warfare is cyber deterrence. Launching punitive and disruptive cyber-attacks against political enemies is becoming the norm. With Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and the USA using it to great effect. These attacks are often launched against corporate entities headquartered in the targeted nation, causing economic collateral damage affecting many people.

While most really big companies have tools to deal with these attacks, the increasing frequency and sophistication will almost certainly cause problems further down the road.

Conclusion

No matter what your sphere of life or business is, chances are that cyber threats will affect you. Keeping all computer systems you come into contact with safe and following good security practices is more important than ever.

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