Technology is always improving upon itself and introducing new forms. Unfortunately, the same can be said for cybersecurity threats.
With each technological advancement, we learn of new ways for individuals and businesses to fall victim to hackers, scammers and other online trickery. We’ve been keeping an eye on the most common cybersecurity threats over the past year and found that the top three threats in 2022 were phishing, ransomware and cryptojacking.
How to recognize and stay safe from phishing attempts
Whether or not you’ve already dealt with phishing attempts, it is important to understand what it is. Phishing is a fraudulent practice of sending emails or other messages impersonating reputable companies and/or people in order to get individuals to reveal personal information. While phishing attempts may be getting more believable as time passes, there are always a few dead giveaways you can be on the lookout for.
Always check who is sending your emails.
While email designs may look legit, you can always double-check the legitimacy of any online communications by looking at the email address that sent it. If the email address has a seemingly random layout of letters and numbers rather than a professional business layout, odds are the communication is a scam.
If you’re still unsure about the authenticity of the message, run an internet search on the company the email is from and look for a contact email to which you can compare the layout!
Pay attention to the images in the email, if any.
To make their scams seem more professional and realistic, cybercriminals have been including visual elements in their phishing/ scam emails. When you receive a suspicious email, another way to validate its legitimacy is to judge the quality of the images within it. Blurry, pixelated images tend to give away the illegitimacy of an email.
If the email or text message is claiming to be a coworker or an associate, reach out directly to the person they are claiming to be via another form of contact that you know is valid.
A very common phishing attempt as of late has been an email or text claiming to be your boss who needs immediate help with a task. The message will ask for your personal information and/or ask you to purchase some amount of gift cards (iTunes, Google, etc.). The scammer will create a huge sense of urgency with the illusion that the task they need help with is dire in order to prevent you from double-checking the request with the person they are impersonating.
If you happen to receive one of these messages, contact your boss directly (in person at work or over your company’s secure messaging service) and ask them if they actually did send you the message. Remember that no matter how real it may seem, your boss (or whoever the scammer is claiming to be) would most likely reach out to you directly through an official channel.
Review and update user permissions on any SaaS platforms as needed.
An informative article by The Hacker News suggests that to minimize the risk of phishing attempts in your business, you should only give users on your software the minimum access level necessary to execute their job.
Learn more about why user permissions matter, according to Hacker News.
How to protect yourself from ransomware
The second most common cybersecurity threat in 2022 was ransomware. Ransomware is a cyber attack in the form of malware that prevents you from accessing your computer files. Regardless of whether it happens to a business or an individual, this is one of the worst things that can happen on your device(s).
A study by Incrux Technologies discovered the most common causes of ransomware:
- Compromised credentials
- Phishing emails
- Cloud misconfiguration
- Vulnerability in third-party software
- Physical security compromise
- Malicious insider activity
- Accidental data loss/loss of a device
A good chunk of these causes could have been prevented by avoiding the sharing of passwords, creating stronger passwords and/or different ones than you use for everything else and paying closer attention to the authenticity of any email communication received.
If you have fallen victim to ransomware, you should be aware that ransomware will sometimes delete itself after infecting a device. In other cases, it will stay in your system and infect other files and/or devices. Using anti-ransomware or antimalware will help you get rid of your issue, but professional help may be needed. Read more about our services or contact us to learn how we can help.
Misconfiguration of any security device or cloud can be prevented by hiring a trusted and well-trained professional. When it comes to cutting costs at your business, do not run the risk of incorrectly configuring your security devices just to spare a few dollars. Pay for the services that matter and avoid a data breach in the future.
How to recognize and stay safe from cryptojacking
Last but certainly not least, cryptojacking was the third most common cybersecurity threat last year. From 2021 to 2022, there was a whopping 28% increase in cybersecurity attacks, according to SECUREU. The motive behind these attacks is profit. Cybercriminals take control of people’s computers, phones or even servers to mine for cryptocurrency.
However, unlike other malware or cybersecurity threats, cryptojacking was designed in a way to stay hidden from its targets and victims. Hence it may take users and businesses a much longer time to figure out they have been affected.
The most common way to become a victim of cryptojacking is by clicking a link in an email. Just like with phishing attempts, users should attempt to verify the authenticity of any email or form of communication.
To prevent a cryptojacker from entering your data, remember to check the email address the email was sent from, double check the address via the internet, search ongoing cryptojacking schemes online, reach out to the physical person that the email is claiming to be from (if you know them personally from your workplace) and most importantly, don’t click any images or links if you aren’t completely sure the message is safe.
According to Imperva, to know whether or not you have fallen victim to cryptojacking, you should check for the following symptoms:
- Slower speed/performance of your devices
- Sudden crashes on your devices or a quickly draining battery
- Unusually poor performance
If you have any suspicions that you may be dealing with cryptojacking, you should immediately alert the person in charge of your technology department.
Though you never know if or when you’ll become a target of a cybersecurity attack, you can always stay alert and educate yourself. Then you’ll be able to recognize the signs and advise others what to do if someone in your company happens to fall victim to a scheme.
Running a business with multiple employees can make your company more vulnerable to attacks because there are more entry points for cybercriminals to target. Here are a few ways to effectively minimize the chances of a cybersecurity attack, provided by the Global CISO Forum:
- If you see something, say something.
- Educate yourself and other employees.
- Consistently review and update user permissions on all platforms.
- Build stronger, unique passwords for your business devices and platforms.
- Stay vigilant of third parties and their access.
- Detect compromised accounts and/or leaked passwords.
- Monitor users and their behavior.
- Exfiltrate data.
At the end of the day, you should rely on professionals to help you navigate your business’s data privacy and cyber security needs. With MDL’s services, you can rest assured knowing your data is always safe and out of reach from any cyber threats. Not sure which service is right for you? Here at MDL, we offer the following premier services:
- Cloud Computing Services — MDL provides cutting-edge hardware and software technologies to help keep your data secure while you work from anywhere.
- Network and Infrastructure Solutions — We provide individualized network infrastructure to help you meet your business’s needs.
- Managed Services — Kill two birds with one stone! Our managed services allow you to declutter your computer and business while simultaneously increasing your network’s speed and stability.
- Disaster Recovery — We provide budget-friendly cloud storage solutions like off-site backup to keep your data secure, always.
Reach out to us to see if we can help you.