Common Cyber Attacks And How To Protect Yourself From Them

If your data isn't secure, nothing else you do with your data matters. Cybersecurity and preparedness is the foundation of any use of data, so learn these tips to protect yourself from common cyber attacks.
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Cybercrime, particularly in the financial sector, not only cost the world economy $2.7 billion in 2018, but it also is one of the most feared threats to national security in the United States, with more than 164 million personal records getting exposed in 2019, alone. 

The list of different types of cyber attacks grows as rapidly as other parts of the technology and ecommerce sectors, and with constant evolution there is no set way to protect against them today that you can ensure will still be a good way to do so in a few months. With that, the most important part of protecting yourself and your business from cyberattacks is by staying current with trends and threats in in the ever-evolving cybercrime space. 

Here are 4 types of attacks currently having significant impacts on cybercrime rates, and ways to protect yourself against them. Many are not new, per se, but have evolved beyond the countermeasures created to prevent them. 

Trojan Malware

Named after the famous horse that was disguised as a gift and contained a belly full of soldiers, Trojan Malware attacks are often hidden programs that are hiding within a program that seems much more legitimate. Though trojan attacks don’t generally cause as much immediate harm as straightforward malware attacks, they do so by design to remain under the radar so they can make a given device easier to access for future attacks. 

Updates in modern security software will scan for these “weak spots” created by trojan viruses, but in order to completely avoid them, you just have to be very selective when making sure any new software you install on your device is secure and from a legitimate source. 

Phishing

Though not a new type of attack, phishing is still a very common way for cybercriminals to access information. Luckily, the protection from these attacks lies in common sense and self-preservation. Most phishing attacks start with emails that try to entice users to click on a link or attachment that is ultimately infected with malware that can infiltrate a given person’s personal computer and stored information to be used for purchases or identity theft. 

Spear phishing is a more targeted approach, and is generally more difficult to recognize as something malicious. The safest bet is to not open any attachments from emails that aren’t from a 100% trusted source. If you’re in question, at all, contact the sender via another means and confirm that all attachments are safe and intended for you. 

Ransomware

Ransomware is pretty aptly named, as it is a type of cyberattack that aims to find information it can “hold ransom” over the user until the user agrees to pay to retrieve their stolen information. It was also the second most common malware attack style in 2019.

Generally, these attacks are focused on large businesses, but it’s not completely uncommon for them to target individuals. Even if the ransom is small, there is never a guarantee that the information stolen hasn’t been duplicated, so protection against it is a much better scenario that having to be reactive. 

Just as with the other two attacks mentioned, the most common way ransomware attacks find success is through links in emails. In addition to safe practices, frequent updates of your software are paramount, as ransomware is a new and quickly evolving issue. 

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM)

Another well-named attack, MitM attacks aim to jump between two people during a financial transaction, or sharing of personal information and aim to steal said information. These kinds of attacks are most common on public wi-fi, so avoiding those kinds of transactions in public places (when possible) is the best way to defend against them. However, they can also occur through devices that you may have thought were using secure data, but wound up connecting to a public network, so ensuring your phone does not have “autoconnect” to any public networks is also a good move.

Self-Preservation and Repetition

The common theme in this article has been self-care and avoiding attachments from unsafe senders. The secondary theme has been frequently updating software, as well as personal knowledge regarding new trends in cybercrime. By continuing these two practices, you can rest-assured that your information is secure.

Ryan Ayers
Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.