As We Rely on Technologies to Supplement Our Lives, We Open Doors to CyberSecurity Breaches
By the time you take your lunch break, you've probably opened yourself up to 20 information security risks. Social media accounts, vehicle technologies, automatic bill pay, email, mobile apps – all of these components open the door to potential sensitive information leaks, but that doesn't mean we should live our lives in fear. Rather, continue to live freely, but with a few constraints in place to protect ourselves from those dastardly web-based outlaws.
To help enhance your data protection regimen, we offer our cyber security predictions & findings!
1) Ransomware Is On the Rise
Ransomware is undercover malware that buries itself deep into your computer or smartphone. Behind the scenes, it sets up shop &, when the time is right, it puts your machine on lock down. Your device remains useless until you pay a “ransom” for your sensitive information. Instead of threatening to cut off fingers, it threatens your livelihood. If you don't pay up, they will release your data to other hackers.
Many top-of-the-line firewalls & anti-virus programs protect against common ransomware attacks, but hackers are getting smarter – & so are their viruses. Back in 2017, these programs are becoming “vaccine-resistant,” meaning they're constantly learning ways around the most common defenses. To help combat ransomware & to boost your protection, be mindful of what you click. Don't download .ext files & other installers unless you are absolutely positive they have come from a trusted manufacturer. There are a variety of other protective measures you can take, but more on that later.
2) Hackers Are Trying to “Break the Bank”
In the instant gratification era, folks are willing to do a lot on their smartphones. Order a pizza? Sure. Use a GPS to travel across the country? Of course. Take out a loan? Believe it or not, yes. American financial institutions have gone from “text banking” to “mobile banking” to make the lives of their clients even easier. However, with convenience comes vulnerability & app developers, now more than ever, have to reduce risk points. Put yourself in the mind of a hacker. Why bother going through an Amazon account if you can go straight to the bank?
Common vulnerabilities in banking apps include:
- A lack of valid SSL certificate
- Data transfer operations that initiate non-encrypted actions
- Restricted resources can be accessed by “Jailbroken” devices.
While these points may go way over the average consumer's head, hackers know exactly what they mean. To help decrease your risk, minimize the amount of financial management applications you have on your phone. Ensure that your passwords are strong. Log off each time you use the program. Most importantly, keep an eye out on your bank accounts & monitor for any suspicious activity.
3) Cybersecurity & Social Media
When the average consumer gets a brand new iPhone, one of the first things they do is download the Facebook app - & it's not just because they absolutely need to post that picture of their breakfast or tell all of their friends about their new device. No, we do this because Facebook has injected itself into so many of our other applications. This single point of entry becomes the center of all of our activity because we log in through Facebook & give it permissions, thus opening up a gaping hole of vulnerability should your account get hacked. How easy is it to hack someone's account? As easy as knowing their phone number & email address.
Twitter is, perhaps, even easier to hack for pros. Phishing links & scams are running rampant, forcing users to become increasingly more mindful of what they're clicking. Be wary of uncharacteristic posts from friends & let them know that their account may have been compromised. Spot a “fishy” link or post? Report it to Twitter. Even if you're wrong, it's worth being diligent.
4) IT Terrorism: Using DdoS Attacks to Demonstrate Power
What happens when 5 o' clock rolls around & everyone hits the highway all at once? A painful traffic jam that will have you cursing your fellow carpool companion. Imagine if, instead of destinations, we had popular websites &, instead of cars, we had individual IP addresses trying to get to the same place. When a website goes down, this is one of the cases – too much traffic at a single time. The server can't handle that many requests. The roads can't handle the cars. Now, imagine if someone had the capabilities to incite a traffic jam on a 1,000 times larger scale at any given time. This is what we call a Ddos attack.
In previous years, the US saw a few massive Ddos attacks which shut down websites like Etsy, Twitter & Spotify for hours at a time. Other than inciting panic, hackers try to inject malicious code amidst the chaos. Going back to the traffic jam analogy, it would be like having looters completely clean your car out while you were busy getting to your destination by an emergency vehicle.
Why do hackers perform these attacks? Not only to grab sensitive data among the mass confusion, but to simply prove that they can. Having the ability to incite hysteria in your back pocket is one heck of a leverage tactic.
5) Prevention, Not Reaction, is the Key to Information Protection
When it comes to protecting your sensitive data, you have to be proactive. Defense strategy consists of more than just making sure you don't click phishing links on Twitter. Here are some of our top suggestions:
- Avoid open Wi-Fi connections when managing or sending sensitive data
- Don't store sensitive information on the cloud unless it has met extremely granular compliance requirements
- Keep 'em separated – don't link every account through Facebook; use your secure Gmail account (it's not as easy, but it is safer)
- Password protect EVERYTHING, including your password storage application
- Change up your passwords once every three months
- Don't send passwords via email or text message
- Update all security, anti-virus & operating devices as soon as updates become available
In need of more information regarding defense against data hackers? Get in touch with us today! IQSG has got your back.