By Nicholas Mallo, Area Manager, American Alliance Security Agency
It’s no longer news; there’s a threat in town, and it is getting deadly as the days go by.
This new threat, mankind has never seen before – it is not restricted by any national borders, it spreads and infects systems with the speed of light, it is ruthless, and in the wrong hands can bring powerful countries crumbling to their knees.
Cyber-attacks have taken the threat to individuals, corporations, and governments to a whole new level where a criminal launches an attack from a remote location to gain access to thousands and in severe cases, millions of computers without being detected.
It’s scary to imagine individuals with malicious intents gaining access to your personal data – think, your bank accounts, emails, addresses, etc. – without permission and what they could do with it.
So, how do you ensure you are safe on the internet and that you're personal details remain just that – personal?
First, get as much information as you can about the different online threats out there; the truth is, you can’t win a war you know nothing about. So, it’s vital you start off by getting up to speed on the common types of cybersecurity threat you’d face.
Some common internet threats used by these hackers include:
Spreading malware like computer viruses, ransomware, worms, and Trojan horses; hacking into accounts; phishing; and DDoS attacks; these attacks are designed to disrupt, destroy, or gain control of a computer system or mine data.
An effective method to protect yourself against these threats, especially threats from malware is becoming thoroughly knowledgeable in how they spread. Emails are often the channels preferred by these cyber-criminals to spread viruses – they often appear as innocuous attachments in an email; once an unsuspecting victim clicks and downloads the file the virus is installed and ready to cause deadly havoc.
So how do you protect yourself against malware attacks?
Aside from reading up on these threats, there are simple actions you can take to ensure your safety online. Never open an email with an attachment from unknown sources; scrap that, don’t open an email from friends, families, colleagues with suspicious looking attachments except in cases where you’ve spoken to them and expecting the email from them.
Trojan horses are cloned versions of programs a potential victim is tricked to install on their computer. Though, not as lethal as a virus, it can still damage or disrupt your computer.
How to protect against Trojan Horses:
Install applications from trusted websites only.
Hacking is unauthorized access to an online account; it’s probably the oldest form of cyber-attack known to man. A hacker usually scans your system for weaknesses which is then exploited to gain access to your computer, acquire personal information, install malware or hijack your device or website.
How to protect against hacking:
Having a robust and mixed password is the first line of defense against hacking. Use capital and small letters, numbers and special characters in your password; also make sure it is up to eight digits. Use different passwords for all your accounts – that way; if a hacker breaches one of the passwords they don’t have access to all your accounts.
Finally, ensure that your software is regularly updated to eliminate any vulnerability that may be present.