In the past years, cyberattacks became more frequent, especially as employees started to work from home when security wasn’t as enforced as in the workplace. Therefore, businesses were affected, and people reported periodic phishing attempts on smartphones. You may be wondering how they’re still happening if technology is constantly developing? Well, hackers always find new ways to get into network systems, and it’s a constant struggle for companies to keep their data safe.
In the UK, the health, education and finance industries were the most affected by data breaches in the past years. Phishing is still the most used method of stealing data, followed by unauthorised access and ransomware. But even if most companies use specialised data protection methods, accidents still occur, so how can regular people protect their data? Read along and find what are the most common attacks and what to do in such situations.
My data was stolen. What can I do?
A cyberattack occurs when a hacker uses a computer (or more) to invade the privacy of another computer or network. Since it may harm someone’s security and financial health, it is considered a cybercrime, and the penalties vary.
Luckily, most platforms announce users when someone has entered their accounts, but if you suspect that someone else is using them or you notice you’re missing money from the credit card, here are some steps you should take:
- Change your passwords to something more secure. Don’t use the same password twice, and don’t forget to add numbers and letters to your password.
- Check the two-factor authentication box. Most online services offer this option because it’s a secure way to protect your account. With this feature, you’ll be required to enter the additional level of authentication to access your account that hackers cannot guess.
- Contact your credit card authority and freeze your credit to ensure that hackers can’t open a new account under your name.
- Pursue a data breach compensation claim. Sometimes, companies fail to protect your data, which they should’ve, which is called a data breach, meaning that they were at fault, and you can sue them if you’ve suffered damages. Filing a compensation claim in the UK can be easily done, and you can win the process if you’re able to prove that you’ve suffered financial or psychological damages as a result of the breach.
What are the most known cyberattacks?
Malware includes various attacks, such as spyware, viruses and worms. It can get into computers by using a vulnerability to breach a network when users click on a malicious link or email attachment that usually instals dangerous software into the computer’s system. Through this cyberattack, hackers can deny access to the critical components of the network, obtain sensitive information and make the system inoperable.
One of the latest forms of malware occurred in China, where attackers created false documents that appeared to be from the United Nations with real information and set up websites for non-existent organisations, claiming to fund charity groups.
Similar to malware, phishing is using fraudulent emails disguised as coming from reliable sources so users don’t suspect anything when clicking the links. But they can also take place on social networks through direct messages. When getting access to your device, the hacking program can install malicious scripts or extract data, like financial info.
Some common phishing practices include a tax refund scam, which can trick you into thinking there’s a refund due soon, so make sure you’re checking thoroughly into your documents before giving your bank account details.
The DOS (Denial-of-Service) attack works by flooding systems, servers or networks with traffic to overload bandwidth. As a result, the system is unable to process and fulfil legitimate requests.
A recent report stated that DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial-of-Service) rose by 46% since last year. This subclass of DoS involves multiple connected online devices that aim to make websites and servers unavailable to legitimate users. It can reach the target's security perimeter even if they’re not used for stealing information.
Password attacks are the most widespread cyberattacks because they’re easy to perform. This might happen because people don’t choose more secure and complicated passwords. After all, they’re not aware of the dangers of a data breach. A common method of password attack is called the “dictionary attack,” where the attacker uses a list of common words to attempt to gain access to computers and networks.
Tips on how to protect your data
It’s challenging to keep your data safe in a world where every company asks for it so that you can use its services. But if you’re careful and implement some safe practices, you might avoid unpleasant incidents. So, what can you do in general to protect your information?
- Backup your data. If you choose cloud software, for example, you can ensure that your data is in a safe place, and you’re not risking losing it, as it’s backed up automatically.
- Get to know which are the signs of a malicious email. There are some obvious signs you can’t ignore, like poor grammar or urgent requests to do something (like paying an amount of money). When they’re more challenging to recognise, take some time to analyse the emails. If it’s from one of your trusted companies, you could give them a call and ask about that email.
- Install antivirus software on your devices. Most antivirus services are free or have accessible prices, but if you hold important information, it would be best to make this investment.
- Don’t leave laptops or phones unattended. You’ll never know who might want to steal something from you, so to avoid such issues, it’s best to have passwords on all your devices and never leave them unattended.
In conclusion, you can be safe online if you’re not falling into traps and keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest technology breaches. It’s good to know what to expect, and it will keep you away from browsing unknown websites.