Cyber security threats are a constant concern for individuals and businesses alike. With the increasing reliance on technology in our daily lives, it’s crucial to stay informed about the latest threats and take steps to protect yourself and your organization. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 5 cyber security threats to watch out for and provide some tips on how to stay safe.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a payment in exchange for the decryption key. Ransomware attacks can be devastating, causing significant disruptions to businesses and individuals alike. In 2019, the city of Baltimore was hit with a ransomware attack that affected the city’s government systems and services, including its 911 emergency system.
To protect against ransomware, it’s important to regularly back up your important files and to avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.
Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals attempt to trick individuals into giving them sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. This is often done by creating fake websites or emails that look legitimate, with the goal of convincing people to enter their personal information.
One common example of phishing is the creation of a fake login page for a popular website, such as a bank or social media platform. The page will look nearly identical to the real thing, with the same logos and layout. However, the URL will be slightly different, or the page may be hosted on a completely different domain.
When a person tries to log in to the fake page, their information is captured by the criminals, who can then use it to gain access to the person’s accounts. This can lead to financial loss, identity theft, and other forms of damage.
Another common example of phishing is the use of fake emails that appear to be from legitimate organizations. These emails will often include urgent language, such as warnings about a problem with the person’s account or the need to verify their information.
The email will include a link to a fake website, where the person is prompted to enter their sensitive information.
To protect yourself from phishing scams, it’s important to be cautious when providing personal information online. Be sure to check the URL of any website you’re on, and make sure it matches the organization it’s supposed to be from. Don’t click on links in emails unless you’re sure they’re legitimate, and be wary of any email that includes urgent language or requests personal information.
Additionally, consider using a reputable security tool that can help protect you from phishing attacks. These tools can often identify fake websites and emails, and block them before they reach you.
To protect against phishing attacks, it’s important to be cautious when providing personal information online and to verify the legitimacy of any website or email before entering sensitive information.
Malware is a broad term that refers to any software that is designed to harm or exploit a computer system. This can include viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malicious programs. Malware can be installed on a victim’s computer without their knowledge, often through malicious websites or email attachments.
To protect against malware, it’s important to use a reputable antivirus program and to avoid visiting suspicious websites or opening email attachments from unknown sources.
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are a type of cyber attack in which the attacker attempts to make a particular website or online service unavailable to its intended users by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. This is often accomplished through the use of botnets, networks of computers that have been compromised by malware and are controlled by the attacker without the knowledge of their owners.
One common example of a DoS attack is the “distributed” DoS (DDoS) attack, in which the attacker uses a botnet to send a large amount of traffic to the target website or service from multiple sources, effectively overwhelming its servers and preventing legitimate users from accessing the site. In February of 2018, for example, a major DDoS attack targeted the website of the popular security blogger Brian Krebs, sending over 600 gigabits of traffic per second and knocking his site offline for several days.
Another type of DoS attack is the “application-layer” DoS attack, which targets a specific aspect of a website or online service, such as its login form or search functionality. This type of attack is often more difficult to detect and defend against, as it can mimic legitimate traffic and may not cause the same level of network congestion as a DDoS attack.
Regardless of the specific type of DoS attack, the ultimate goal is the same: to disrupt the availability of a particular website or online service. This can have serious consequences, such as lost revenue for e-commerce sites, damage to a company’s reputation, and even loss of life in the case of critical services such as hospitals.
A botnet is a network of compromised computers or Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are under the control of a hacker. These devices are often infected with malware that allows the hacker to remotely control them and use them to launch coordinated attacks on various targets.
DDoS attacks: Botnets are often used to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, in which the compromised devices are used to flood a target server or website with traffic, overwhelming it and rendering it inaccessible to legitimate users. For example, in 2016, the Mirai botnet was used to launch a massive DDoS attack on the Krebs on Security website, resulting in a peak traffic of 620 Gbps.
Spamming: Another common use of botnets is to send out large volumes of spam emails, often for the purpose of phishing or spreading malware. For example, the Storm botnet was responsible for sending out billions of spam emails, many of which contained malicious links or attachments.
Cryptojacking: Botnets can also be used to secretly mine cryptocurrency on the infected devices, without the knowledge or consent of the users. For instance, the Smominru botnet infected over half a million Windows machines and was used to mine Monero cryptocurrency, resulting in over $2.3 million in illicit profits.
Keep your devices and software up to date: Regularly updating your devices and software helps to fix vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers to gain control of your devices.
Use strong and unique passwords: Using strong, unique passwords for your online accounts makes it difficult for hackers to guess or crack them and gain access to your devices.
Install and maintain security software: Installing and regularly updating security software such as antivirus, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems helps to protect your devices from malware and other threats.