Top Three Most Common Cybersecurity Threats

In our increasingly interconnected world, the rise of cybersecurity threats grow just as much as our technology evolves. Nowadays, our lives are typically interwoven with digital platforms – from social media and email to digital banking and shopping for essentials. However, with the convenience and accessibility that being online has given us, it has also given criminals access to disrupt and take advantage of others. Whether you’re a tech-savvy individual or a casual internet user, understanding the cyber threats and implementing effective security measures is essential for safeguarding your personal information, financial assets, and digital privacy. Here we have listed 3 common cybersecurity threats you are likely to see in your daily life and how to protect yourself from falling victim to them.

Phishing Attacks

A phishing attack is the most common cybersecurity threat that people are likely to encounter within their daily lives. In one definition by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): “A technique for attempting to acquire sensitive data, such as bank account numbers, through a fraudulent solicitation in email or on a web site, in which the perpetrator masquerades as a legitimate business or reputable person.”

Many people will encounter these as emails, text messages, or phone calls. A common tactic for these cyber hackers to lure their victims in is by trying to verify a false order, looking for payment. Cybercriminals often impersonate trusted entities like banks, government agencies, or well-known companies to lure victims into clicking malicious links or downloading malware-infected attachments.

Protection Tips:
  • Never open any attachments and respond to numbers or emails you do not recognize.
  • Verify the legitimacy of the contact by reaching out to the organization directly with the contact information listed on their websites.
  • Enable spam filters and report any fraudulent or spam messages to your email provider.
  • Multi-factor authentication can help protect your accounts from anyone trying to use your information to gain access to your personal information.

Malware Infections

Malware, including viruses, ransomware, and spyware, poses a significant threat to home users, capable of causing data loss, financial theft, and system damage. Malicious software can infiltrate your devices through various means, such as malicious email attachments, infected websites, or compromised software downloads. Once installed, malware can silently gather sensitive information, encrypt files for ransom, or hijack your device’s resources for illicit activities.

According to McAfee, a reputable anti-virus computer service, a common way you can get malware onto your device is by downloading infected files from the internet, mainly from malicious websites. “Malicious code can be hidden in all kinds of files, including videos, pictures, and software. When you open these files on your PC, the malware can infect your system and cause damage,” the organization explains.

Protection Tips:
  • Keep your devices up to date with latest security patches.
  • Install reputable anti-virus software to detect and defend your device against malicious attacks.
  • Exercise caution when downloading anything from the internet.
  • Regularly back-up your information to mitigate the impact of potential infection.

Weak Passwords/Credential Hacking

Weak or reused passwords make it easy for cybercriminals to compromise your accounts through brute-force attacks or credential stuffing.

Brute Force Attacks: A method of attack by attempting multiple combinations of numeric or alphanumeric passwords.

Credential Stuffing: Inputting stolen usernames and passwords, obtained from previous data breaches, into the login pages of various online platforms to gain unauthorized access to user accounts.

Hackers can also steal login credentials through data breaches and phishing scams, gaining unauthorized access to your email, social media, or financial accounts. Once in control, attackers can exploit your accounts for financial gain, identity theft, or further phishing attempts targeting your contacts.

Protection Tips:
  • Use strong, unique passwords.
  • Do not reuse your passwords.
  • Use multi-factor authentication to protect your accounts.

Protecting your digital haven from cybersecurity threats requires a proactive approach and a combination of technical safeguards and user awareness. By staying informed about common threats, implementing best practices for online security, and maintaining a vigilant mindset, you can mitigate the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks and enjoy a safer and more secure online experience from the comfort of your home. Interested in working within cybersecurity? American National University has the programs made for you to succeed in a career made to defeat cyber hackers. To learn more, go to an.edu.

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