Common Cyber Threats You Should Be Aware Of

Graphic done in blues and blacks that shows a lock in the middle of a computer circuit board.

Although cyber attacks are not new, the methods of employing them continue to evolve. Here the most common cyber threats you should be aware of, to protect your personal information and organizational data.

Spear-phishing

An example of a spear-phishing email asking for copies of employee paystubs

We should be deleting emails from unknown senders or that have suspicious links or attachments. Now, we must be even more cautious as spear-phishing is a recent trend that is continuing to be seen across all industries. 

Spear-phishing is when you receive a fraudulent email that appears to be from one of your contacts, and it tries to get you to reveal confidential information. 

Fraudsters are most successful with spear phishing when three key elements are included in their message:

  • The message is from a source that is trusted and known.
  • There is information within the message that supports its validity. This could include a name or phone number.
  • The request that the individual makes must seem logical.

Unfortunately, due to the appearance of a trusted source and the logic behind the message request, people fall victim to these crimes often. In December 2019, even the Royal Canadian Mint fell for a spear-phishing scam and almost forked over an employee’s paycheque to fraudsters, according to a breach report obtained by CBC through access to information.

As a best practice, don’t respond or click on any attachments from emails that you don’t know the sender. It is important that you limit what personal information you are giving out on the web and through emails.

 

Cloud migration holes

Graphic of a cloud connected to multiple devices including laptops, computers, iPads and iPhones

Many organizations use cloud technology to increase their overall efficiency and security. Cyber attackers know that often there are gaps in the implementation of cloud technology, and are finding ways to take advantage of this.

To avoid being a target to cyber attackers when implementing your cloud technology, make sure you properly estimate your time frame and budgets. Underestimating these puts you at greater risk of making mistakes and leaving vulnerable gaps throughout your integration process. Next, take steps when moving everything on to the cloud. Determine what applications should go first and do things one step at a time. Lastly, don’t slack on cloud security. Having inadequate security policies is one of the fastest ways your organization can fall prey to a cyber attack.

You can also implement cloud technology in partnership with a trusted expert with the prerequisite skills. Take the time to find someone who will do it right the first time.

 

Vulnerabilities in IoT devices

Round Google Home Alexa speaker on a wooden bookshelf

Another one of the most common cyber threats that slips under our radar involves our beloved and various smart devices. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are any nonstandard computing device that can connect wirelessly to a network and transmit data. Examples include smart devices like TVs, speakers and appliances, and even “smart home” devices that can adjust temperatures or lighting levels.

One important security challenge with IoT devices is that users do not update them regularly. Often the device is secure when sold to the consumer, but if it is not updated it becomes prone to hackers. Early computer systems had similar problems, and this was somewhat resolved through automatic updates. Other challenges faced due to the security of IoT devices include the use of default passwords, ransomware attacks and data privacy.

 

Ransomware

A locked computer on a desk, with a hacker exchanging the key to the computer for money from the owner

Ransomware is a malicious software attack. It threatens to publish victim’s data or blocks access to data unless the ransom is paid. The cost of downtime and repairs due to a ransomware attack can have a large impact on an organization. It was found that some industries such as healthcare providers, legal firms and educational institutions are more prone to ransomware attacks, but no industry is off limits. 

To stay protected, be sure that you have a strong backup and recovery plan in place. This way if something happens you can restore your data quickly and reduce downtime. You should also keep all of your software up to date.

Working with an IT provider is beneficial as we monitor your systems to ensure things are up-to-date and running smoothly. In the event of a crisis, an IT provider can improve response times to get your organization up and running again in no time.

 

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