Ipswich IT

Cybersecurity: 8 Common Threats

by | Jan 17, 2024 | Blog, Cyber Security

Navigating-the-Cybersecurity-Maze-Online

In the ever-evolving landscape of cyberspace, understanding key cybersecurity terms is paramount for safeguarding personal and organisational digital assets. This blog post aims to demystify several critical terms, shedding light on the tactics cybercriminals employ to compromise security. From well-known threats like phishing and malware to more specific attacks like ransomware, spyware, adware, and denial-of-service attacks (DoS), let’s explore each term and what you can do to protect yourself and your organisation.

Phishing:

Our first cybersecurity term is a common one. Phishing is a deceptive technique where cybercriminals masquerade as trustworthy entities to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information. Typically delivered through emails, messages, or fake websites, phishing attempts to create a false sense of urgency or importance, prompting users to disclose passwords, credit card details, or personal data. Recognising phishing attempts involves scrutinising communication for red flags, such as misspellings, unfamiliar sender addresses, or unsolicited requests for sensitive information.

Phishing Examples (2023): The 12 Worst Attacks of All Time (softwarelab.org)

Smishing:

Most of us have experience of a Smishing attack. Common examples include; fake delivery notifications, fake HMRC notifications and fake notifications from your bank.

As mobile devices become ubiquitous, cybercriminals adapt their tactics. Smishing, a combination of “SMS” and “phishing,” involves phishing attacks conducted through text messages. These messages may contain malicious links or phone numbers, leading users to compromised websites or disclosing personal information. Vigilance is crucial when receiving unsolicited text messages, as verifying the legitimacy of links and refraining from clicking on suspicious content helps mitigate the risk of falling victim to Smishing attacks.

Vishing:

Voice phishing, or vishing, leverages phone calls to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information. Cybercriminals often impersonate legitimate entities, creating urgency to manipulate victims into sharing confidential data. Vigilance is key in identifying vishing attempts, with users advised to verify the caller’s identity before sharing any personal information over the phone. Attackers might claim you owe a large amount of money, your insurance has expired, or your credit card has suspicious activity that needs to be remedied immediately. At this point, a victim is usually told they must provide personal information such as credit card credentials in order to verify their identity before taking action on whatever claim is being made. 

Phone scams – dealing with cold and nuisance calls | Age UK

Malware:

Malware, an umbrella term for malicious software, encompasses various threats designed to harm computer systems or compromise data. Viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, and adware are all forms of malware. Protecting against malware requires a multi-faceted approach, including regularly updating software, utilising robust antivirus solutions, and exercising caution when downloading files or clicking on links.

Ransomware:

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on a victim’s device, rendering them inaccessible. Cybercriminals then demand a ransom, usually in cryptocurrency, for the decryption key. To protect against ransomware, regular data backups, up-to-date antivirus software, and user education on avoiding suspicious links are crucial. Prevention and early detection play pivotal roles in mitigating the impact of ransomware attacks.

Spyware:

Spyware is designed to stealthily observe a user’s activities without their knowledge, often for malicious purposes. It can capture keystrokes, monitor browsing habits, or even activate a device’s camera and microphone. Employing anti-spyware tools, maintaining updated security software, and practicing cautious online behaviour are effective measures against spyware.

Spyware Examples (2023): The 10 Worst Attacks of All Time (softwarelab.org)

Adware:

Adware, short for advertising-supported software, displays unwanted advertisements on a user’s device. While not inherently malicious, adware can compromise user experience and pose security risks. Implementing ad-blocking tools, keeping software updated, and exercising caution when downloading free applications help mitigate adware-related threats.

Denial of Service Attacks (DoS):

Denial of Service attacks aim to disrupt the normal functioning of a network or website by overwhelming it with excessive traffic. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, a more sophisticated form, involve multiple compromised devices acting in concert. Implementing robust network security measures, such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems, helps mitigate the impact of DoS attacks.

Five Most Famous DDoS Attacks and Then Some | A10 Networks

In the dynamic realm of cybersecurity, a proactive approach to understanding and mitigating threats is essential. A combination of education, technology, and user vigilance forms a robust defence against cyber threats. By staying informed and implementing best practices, individuals and organisations can navigate the intricate maze of cybersecurity and fortify their digital resilience against evolving threats.

IT Security Services | Bury St Edmunds IT Services (bse-it.co.uk)

Contact us at info@bse-it.co.uk or 01284 247024 for a free audit and friendly discussion on your business IT needs and how we can help.