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How to Protect Yourself From a Cyber Attack

BY Phillip Tuckwiller

No criminal activity has been on the rise faster and as unpredictable as cyber attacks. On average, a cyber attack happens every 39 seconds in the United States and affects one in three Americans. Cyber attacks target your personal data, network and finances. Whether you’re a CEO of a large corporate office, a small business owner, or someone browsing their mobile device in a coffee shop, no one is safe.

Thankfully, you can protect yourself. Firewalls and personal security software for your computer can protect everything you store on your personal device. If you’re going online or connecting to your business network, SimpleWAN has you covered.

But first, do you understand what a cyber attack is?

What are Cyber Attacks

At its core, a cyber attack is launched online using one or more computers to assault a single computer or a network. It is illegal and can result in the malicious disablement of computers, stolen data, or turn the breached computer into a launchpad for future attacks.

Cyber attacks are diverse in their priority and execution. They can be malware, phishing, ransomware, denial of service and more.

Let’s break them all down.

Malware

You’re probably familiar with the term malware, but did you know malware is shorthand for malicious software? They’re intrusive and designed to damage or destroy computers and computer systems.

Malware comes in many forms: viruses, worms, trojan viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware and fileless malware.

A virus lays dormant until the user opens the contaminated file. Once active, it will disrupt your system’s ability to operate, which can cause significant operational and data loss.

Worms are designed to spread and replicate to any device on a network. They do not need to attach themselves to a host program like a virus does.They severely impact your computer’s ability to operate.

A Trojan virus is exactly like a Trojan Horse. It disguises itself as a useful software to trick the user into downloading it. Once it is on your device, it can gain access to sensitive data, modify, block or delete data and significantly impact your computer’s performance. Trojans are not designed to replicate.

Spyware is designed to steal your data. If you have spyware on your computer, it runs the background and sends reports to the remote user (the cybercriminal). An example of this type of software is a keylogger, which reveals passwords to the remote user.

Adware is not always dangerous. It is designed to curate advertisements that are specific to you. In some cases, adware can lead the user to dangerous websites, it contain Trojan viruses and spyware, and can slow down your system.

Ransomware holds your network hostage. The cybercriminal will encrypt part of your system or network and demand financial compensation to let you regain access. It is a common phishing scam that is typically downloaded through a dangerous link sent from a seemingly reputable source.

Fileless malware lies in your computer’s memory and not files on your harddrive. It is harder to detect and vanishes if the victim’s computer is rebooted.

Phishing

One of the more common types of malware, phishing is a fraudulent communication generated by the cybercriminal and sent to you. The communication, typically done through email, always appears to be from a reputable source and will have an attachment or a link, which carries the malware.

Man-In-The-Middle attacks (MitM)

MitM is eavesdropping. A cybercriminal can be on an unsecured wifi network, such as at a local coffee shop, and has the ability to insert themselves between your computer and your connection to the wifi. They act as the man-in-the-middle to install software or steal data from your computer.

Denial of Service

Denial of Service, or Distributed Denial of Service (DdoS) attacks flood your system, servers or networks to exhaust resources and bandwidth. In short, they deny you service. Systems that are DdoSed are often affected by a Trojan first.

Structured Query Language (SQL)

An SQL is where a cybercriminal inserts a malicious code into a server. The code forces the server to reveal private information to the attacker.

DNS Tunneling

Domain Name System tunneling uses your system’s DNS protocol to communicate with non-DNS traffic over port 53. It is not always malicious, but attackers can disguise their outbound traffic as DNS. When malicious, a DNS request can steal data and command and control callbacks to the compromised computer.

Who Is At Risk For A Cyber Attack?

In short, everyone is at risk. Cisco explains that cyber crimes have increased every year and that 53% of cyber crimes resulted in damages of $500,000 or more.

Businesses software supply chains are often targeted, which can cause a massive distribution of the virus. This is typically done by infecting one of the software’s building blocks. One instance of this compromised more than 200 online university stores in the United States.

Individuals are generally targeted through phishing, MitM attacks, through the Cloud and through their mobile devices. If you’re not protected on all of your devices and networks, your data is at risk of being stolen, which can cost you thousands in ransomware or in identity theft.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Start by getting your computer a reputable security software and firewall and look into a system that secures your network at home and for your business.

SimpleWAN addresses all cyber crimes and the root of the problem — the hoovering of data — by monitoring business traffic and identifying anomalous patterns that match known malicious content, and cuts off those channels. While it does not solve the problem if your computer or network is compromised, it significantly reduces the chance of being compromised in the future.

A firewall through SimpleWAN separates the internet from your home network and blocks threats from entering your device. Personal firewalls can help prevent viruses, DdoS attacks, hacking and worms. SimpleWAN’s Firewall also help protect your identity and personal information.

You can take steps to be a safe internet user too. Choose preventive methods over protective methods. Remember, having a security software and firewall does not mean your computer can’t be compromised. Never click on links or open attachments from sources you do not know. If you’re ever unsure, ask the person who sent it or ask around your office before you open it.

Keep up with trends in technologies. Cyber attacks adapt and update with security trends, so be sure you’re staying up-to-date with your security and staying informed with the latest cyber attack trends. If you want to it happening in real time, check out SimpleWAN’s cyberattack map.

Check out SimpleWAN’s tips on how to protect yourself from a cyber attack for a more in-depth analysis on how to protect yourself online.

If you’re interested in protecting both your personal computer and your network, schedule a SimpleWAN demo today.