Cyber security is becoming a major threat to individuals and corporations all over the world, especially during the post COVID era. Ever since the world went into lockdown, most of personal and business activities are being conducted online. This means that all your sensitive information is present on the internet, at the risk of being hacked or tampered with. Therefore, the risk of cyber-attacks has increased immensely over the last couple of years.
Cyber-attacks are attempts to steal, expose or destroy personal data through unauthorized access to an entity’s computer system. In 2021, the global cost of damages caused by cyber-attacks was around $6 trillion. This cost has been estimated to rise to $10.5 trillion in 2025 globally (source).
As part of an ongoing series, this article will discuss different causes of cyber-attacks that result in people falling prey to online malicious agendas. Make sure to read till the end to learn how to protect yourself from these cyber-attacks.
Cyber Attacks – What are its causes?
Lack of Cyber Security Training
Lack of cyber security training at an individual and corporate level is an important cause of cyber-attacks nowadays. Most people fall victim to cyber-attacks primarily because they are unaware of the tactics used by cybercriminals to hack into their computers. Through proper training, corporations can guide their employees on how to avoid these online attacks and potentially save millions of dollars as a result.
Cybercriminals use Phishing to trick you into giving up information or taking a specific action. The term ‘Phishing’ was originally used to describe email attacks that would steal your online username and passwords. However, the term has evolved over time and now refers to almost any message-based attack. These attacks begin with a cybercriminal sending a message pretending to be someone you know, such as a friend, your bank or a well-known store.
These messages entice you into taking an action, such as clicking on a malicious link, opening an infected attachment, or responding to a scam. Cybercriminals craft these convincing emails and send them to millions of people around the world. Similarly, cybercriminals are not limited to just emails. They use other methods such as instant messaging or social media posts as well. According to Statista, 54% of all cyber ransom attacks occur as a result of phishing (2).
What is spear phishing?
The concept of spear phishing is the same as phishing, except that instead of sending random emails to millions of potential victims, cyber attackers send targeted messages to a very few select individuals. With spear phishing, the cyber attackers research their intended targets by reading the intended victims’ LinkedIn or Facebook accounts, or any messages they posted on public blogs or forums. Based on this research, the attackers then create a highly customized email that appears relevant to the intended targets. This way, the individuals are far more likely to fall victim. Former White House Chief of Staff Mr. John Podesta has fallen victim to spear-phishing as well, which resulted in the infamous Clinton email scandal (3). An interesting thing to note is that Podesta consulted with his IT department before responding to the malicious email. This highlights the lack of training with regard to cyber security.
Weak Password / Access management
Weak passwords also play a major role in any hack. A weak password does not always depend on the length of the password, but also its complexity. Sometimes, the passwords are extremely easy to guess. People generally prefer to set their name, phone number, or something really generic as their password. This makes it extremely easy for hackers to gain access using brute force attacks etc. (4).
How to protect yourself from cyber-attacks?
There are a few methods that can be used to prevent cyber-attacks.
- Using a VPN
A VPN can be used to establish a secure connection between you and your internet. It can help protect your computer from external attacks. There are countless VPNs available at extremely cheap price. However, make sure to do extensive research before choosing the right VPN for your needs.
- Two Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is another method of preventing cyber-attacks. This can be used by corporations as well as individuals. For example, you can use a password as well as biometrics or voice verification in order to access your online data.
- Staff Trainings
It is extremely important to train your staff to ensure that cybercriminals do not access your data through your employees. The staff should be able to distinguish spam emails and verify links before opening them. Moreover, they should also ensure that they do not share any sensitive information with suspicious email addresses.
Still have questions about how to protect yourself from Cyber-attacks? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Make sure to head over to our YouTube Channel and find readily available information about this topic. As an ongoing series, there’s a lot of content related to the importance of Cyber-security headed your way, so stay tuned for that!
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