For the most part cyber security has brought about the advancement of technology through sharing of vast troves of information. It is now possible to connect to a person on the other side of the world through the press of a button and interact with them in real-time (Thanks Skype!)
But in the same way that technology has brought about many changes into our lives (most of them positive) not everything has been good. With so many critical information whether it’s of a personal nature or State secrets it’s not a surprise that pernicious characters have tried to take advantage of the numerous vulnerabilities that exist on major websites.
Back when the movie; The Net came out, it seemed impossible that an individual’s life could be thrown into such chaos by the simple hacking of their personal information online. However, we’ve come a long way since 1995.
When the Ashley Madison hack happened in mid- 2015, it ruined the lives of many people. From reality TV stars to ordinary Joe’s who had dreamt on cheating on their spouse. We all wish that Ashley Madison was a one-time thing; that it wouldn’t happen again. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Hacking of personal information online has become a way of life in this digital age. It only makes sense for us to understand some of the most common online security threats and what we can do to prevent them if not mitigate them.
Malware is the collective name that is given to an eclectic variety of cyber threats and includes worms, viruses and Trojans. The basic definition of malware is code that is malicious in nature and that typically destroys something stored on the computer or created to steal information.
There are a number of ways that malware can be introduced into your system. The most common are:
- Operating system vulnerabilities
- Software downloads
- Email attachments
Depending on the nature of your interaction with your computer, you should avoid clicking on links that are found in emails that come from unknown senders. This also applies to downloading attachments from spam. By deploying reliable firewalls you’re able to prevent the transfer of large files as they might contain malware. Ensure that your OS (Operating System) has the most recent security updates. These security updates are released on a frequent basis in order to patch any vulnerabilities that might exist in the system.
Denial Of Service Attacks (DoS)
This kind of attack is usually very complex. Hackers will send heavy traffic to a site. In doing so they’ll be making a ton of connection requests hence overloading the system. This means that the site effectively shuts down as it no longer can cope. A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack refers to the attackers using more than one computer to send the requests. Sometimes, the owners of the computers being used for this type of attack don’t even realize that their computers are being used by an external entity.
One way of protecting yourself from this kind of attack is by monitoring your data flow in order to identify unusual spikes in traffic. Sometimes a DoS attack can be executed by unplugging your website’s server from the internet. So, you need to be vigilant in protecting both the software end of your computer as well as the hardware.
This refers to someone breaking into a cache of protected information by cracking into your info. One popular method used in cracking passwords is the brute force method. Using this method involves inputting different passwords in the hope of guessing the right one. It could be done either manually or it could be automated.
It is recommended that you use strong passwords to safeguard your account and prevent from becoming a victim. The strongest passwords are alphanumeric and combine the use of both upper case and lower case characters. Another recommendation is that you change your passwords at regular intervals. Many websites already have this protocol in place. The website will automatically compel you to change your password after a certain amount of time has passed.
Phishing refers to when an innocent individual is duped into clicking a link that seems to be from a legitimate sender, usually a financial institution. The link directs to a dummy site that is designed to look like the real one and asks for login information which the unknowing party gives up.
If you come across an email that requires you give highly confidential information, it is recommended that you verify the email independently. You can make a phone call to the institution in question to verify if indeed they sent you the email. DON’T use the number that has been given in the email itself as it might be part of the con.
Over the many years we’ve been in operation, Florida Vocational Institute has built a solid reputation in the technology space. We are regular contributors to developer blogs.