Advancements in technology are constantly evolving, and no matter the device we use, there are apps and software that keep information secure. However, as anti-virus software progresses and is designed to tackle the most up-to-date threats, threats are also changing and evolving. You can guarantee that, ‘it will never happen to me’ is the first mistake when it comes to attitudes around system attacks. It happens, and the threat of your computer being at risk is a very real one. This article looks at some of the most common cyber threats to PC users, and why you should always keep your anti-virus software up to date.
What is a cyber threat, anyway? Well, a cyber threat is any online virus or corrupt software that would leave your computer vulnerable to third party activity, such as accessing your emails and social media accounts, to personal information such as your address and contact details, bank account details and online banking apps and passwords. It is anti-virus software that can help keep your system protected from these threats, and alert you as to when you may need to take further action.
So, what are the types of threats that fall under the category of a cyber attack? Let’s look at some of the most common:
DoS or DDoS (denial of service / distributed denial of service) attacks: This one is particularly difficult for businesses, as it allows the attacker to overwhelm systems that are in place so that service requests cannot be responded to. Not only does this halt or disrupt business processes and put vulnerable information at risk, it can allow rival businesses to step in and poach new and existing business. In simple terms, with a DoS attack, the hacker floods a particular system so that legitimate users of the service or system are denied access. It can be incredibly detrimental to businesses who use online services and those who work from home.
MitM (Man in the middle) attacks:
This attack is as it sounds – a secret ‘middle man’ between two forms of online communication. For example, the hacker could use software to pose as a trusted site or communications application. Where, for example, the PC user assumes that they are communications directly with a trusted source, they are actually communication with the hacker, who can then access and/or change and manipulate the details f the communications for their benefit. This type of attack can leave your personal details vulnerable and can also manipulate your genuine communication into something completely different and unintended, which can also be a very worrying consequence. You can almost think of it as an active form of eavesdropping from a potentially dangerous stranger.
This has to be one of the most common and probably most successful types of attacks. In fact, according to a report by Trend Micro in late 2018, 91% of cyber-attacks begin with a phishing email containing either a downloadable file (containing malware) or a corrupt clickable link) Phishing tricks system users into giving the hacker information that they wouldn’t usually give to an untrusted source. They do it by sending genuine-looking emails, texts or social media messages that lead the user to click a file download and/or input password information, account details and personal information that could leave them vulnerable to scams and financial fraud schemes. But phising attackers are constantly finding new ways to hide themselves, and new avenues through which to reach out to PC users, even by telephone calls that warn you of your PC being at risk. Here is why you have to be extra cautious and extra protected at all times. Your choice of anti-virus software and how often you scan and update your system is crucial.
While having excellent ant-virus on your PC is essential – so is being password smart. Hackers know that most people will opt to use the dame password for multiple accounts as it is easier to remember. Along the same line, they also know that people tend to choose easy to remember passwords. This leaves you and your PC vulnerable. As a few examples, here are some of the most commonly used passwords that are STILL being used today, and are incredibly easy for hackers to guess: querty, 123456, password, 11111, abc123, password1, and the list goes on. Be password smart, and choose a password that makes use of, for example, three random words separated by numbers, or opt for a trusted password management software that will store your passwords safely.
Malware is the shortened term for malicious software. Basically, a malware attack is any virus that is hidden and contained in computer software designed to be downloaded and installed to provide certain services and uses. Hackers take advantage of software downloads and can spread viruses to PCs that install certain programmes. Your best protection against any form of malware is a strong and trusted anti-virus software. This is because the newest and most successful anti-virus software is designed to detect malware before it has the chance to do any damage.
So, as you can see, these are just a few of multiple forms of cyber threats that are very common and still successful for hackers. If you’re a PC user, it is a no-brainer – you need anti-virus software, and you need it to be up to date and trusted at all times.