Cybersecurity is becoming a very trendy topic. A day doesn’t pass by without hearing news of another cyberattack. What are these cyberattacks? Who are carrying them out? How to recognize if you’re a target of cyberstalking? These are just some of the questions that rush through the heads of many concerned people.
The good old “Know thy enemy” applies to this scenario as well. In order to take the necessary steps to secure and protect themselves, both people and businesses need to know what they are up against. This is why we have put together a list of the most common online threats you should know about.
When it comes to online crimes, cyberstalking is probably the most vicious among them all. Cyberstalking is online stalking. And it is quite similar to regular stalking. All the technology that people use to communicate and connect can fire back right in their face and make them victims of cyberstalking.
It refers to all actions that are used to intimidate, harass or frighten a person or group through the internet. Cyberstalking comes in various forms:
- Sending malware to a victim
- Identify theft
- Data destruction
- False accusations
- Posting derogatory statements about the victim on social networks and forums
- Monitoring online activity
- Disclosing the victim’s physical location
To minimize the chances of becoming victims of cyberstalking, people should use strong passwords, limit other people’s access to their smartphones and laptops, use privacy settings on social media platforms, and turn off location services on their devices.
Internet of Things offers convenient solutions to help users streamline their everyday activities. These range from smart refrigerators and plates, to smart TVs and light bulbs. All these devices have a few things in common – they run on software and are connected to the internet. Hackers can exploit the bugs of these devices to take control of them, hack into a home network, or steal sensitive data.
The best protection from IoT hacks is to keep firmware updated to the latest version on all of their devices, and use strong passwords on dedicated apps.
Man in the Middle Attacks
A “Man in the middle” attack is a very common cyberattack these days. They happen when a hacker manages to infiltrate the victim’s traffic. Instead of directly going to a target location and back to the user, the entire traffic goes through the hacker’s hands. By intercepting all of the victim’s communications, hackers can get hold of sensitive data and do with it as they please. Most common MITM attacks are IP, DNS, and HTTPS spoofing, SSL and email hijacking, stealing web browser cookies, and WiFi eavesdropping.
The best way to get protection from MITM attacks is to use and update antivirus software across all devices.
Phishing is a popular type of online fraud. A phishing attack is initiated by a hacker who poses as another entity (a bank, credit card company, ISP). The victims receive a fake SMS or an email, or a message on one of the apps, that asks them to log into their account with an excuse related to an information update or some other lie.
People can prevent phishing by being mindful of who contacts them. Be careful when opening links sent to you in an email. It is always better to manually enter the link in the browser. Staying on the sites that offer HTTPS protocol also minimizes the risk of phishing attacks.
Ransomware is the most aggressive type of malware. Once it infects a computer, it can either encrypt all the data and restrict the user’s access to it, or lock down the entire computer altogether. The victim is then asked to pay a ransom to get the data back.
Since it is usually delivered via email or sketchy websites, the best protection is to stop clicking the links in suspicious emails. You should also only visit verified and trustworthy websites.
Malicious Online Ads
Some malicious online ads are not intentionally designed to harm users’ computers. Instead, they are poorly designed and developed, thus putting way more stress than they should on the users’ hardware. The consequence is a system that runs very slow. On the other hand, these ads usually come from websites crawling with malware.
This problem can be easily bypassed with a good ad blocker browser plugin. Users can still see ads on trustworthy websites by adding exceptions in the plugin’s settings menu.These are the most common online threats that lurk on the internet. Getting familiar with them can help people learn how to protect themselves. Since cybercriminals are restless and new threats emerge every day, the best practice is to update your OS, software, and antivirus regularly.