We are living in a world of ones and zeros and today’s thief is typically well-versed with IT solutions and this invisible activity is very difficult to stop, as hackers constantly come up with new ways to access computers and networks. If you run a business, cyber-security is not something you can afford to ignore; we only hear about the major hacks, but that doesn’t mean cyber-crime isn’t happening at a lower level, indeed it is.
Here are some of the ways a hacker could steal your data.
- Phishing –This involves replicating an email or website and a link is sent to a user, requesting they visit the site and give personal information; the email and the website look real enough and very often, the user gives them the information and doesn’t give it another thought. The hacker now has your passwords, as they have access to the remote server that hosts the site, which is slightly different to the real website, a single character change in the URL is one way to tell it is not real. A typical scenario would be when a person receives an email from their bank informing them that their credit card has been deactivated in error and they ask you to click on the link and give your card number in order to reactivate. The email looks genuine, so does the website, so it is easy to understand why so many fall prey to phishing. As soon as they have access to your account, it is cleaned out and that’s the last thing you need. You would probably have the money returned thanks to insurance, but that might take a few months.
- Network hacking – This is another level from stealing passwords and would require a lot of knowledge; major breaches might involve the theft of millions of users’ financial data, or an attack to steal critical business data. If you have the best network security in Southern California, you won’t need to concern yourself with data breaches, which could be considered a disaster for any organization. This type of hacker sends out exploratory bots that trawl the web looking for unprotected networks and there are plenty; when they find a back door, your data is copied and you would never know there had been an intrusion.
- Email attachments – If you should receive an email from a person you don’t know, never click on any attachments, as malware is ready to infect your device when you click on the .exe file that triggers the process. The malware could be simply malicious and wipes the drive clean, or it could get access to your webcam or keyboard, logging all activity and sending it to the hacker, there are many types of virus, which is created to carry out specific tasks that may or may not involve data theft.
- Getting access to your device – If a hacker can get 5 minutes alone with your device, they can send data to their own secure server and you would never know; they could also infect the device with malware. Don’t leave your business laptop sitting open when in a large office, as it is inviting for a hacker.
- Malware – Broadly speaking, malware is code that is written with a specific goal in mind, which might be to track web use, steal personal data, copy folders and even to destroy the drive. How does malware get into your computer? Downloading pirated software and movies is one way malware can gain access to your data and you should never click on unknown links. The Trojan is a clever way to set up a back door for remote operation and your antivirus program should pick up Trojans and block them, notifying you of the quarantine.
- Spyware – As the name suggests, spyware looks at your keyboard activity, web cam use and even records your mic when making Zoom calls. Spyware is often bundled up in a dubious pirated software package, which you should avoid installing for obvious reasons.
- Mobile apps – You cannot guarantee that every mobile app on Playstore is free of malicious code, indeed, you should only download mobile apps from trusted developers. Advertising malware is found on some free mobile apps, so take care and it is possible to scan the download before installation, which is advised with lesser-known apps. Here are a few tips if you are planning a large IT project in 2022.
- Smishing – Much like phishing, except the hacker uses a phone call or an SMS to try to get you to reveal certain personal information. This is relatively new and we may see a rise in use in the next few years.
- Using unsecured Wi-Fi –Let’s say you are at the airport and you log into the coffee shop’s free Wi-Fi and complete a banking transaction; what you don’t know is the hackers are sitting nearby using the same Wi-Fi network and they can easily get the data they need to commit cyber-crime. By design, free Wi-Fi can instantly be accessed and that means hackers can come and use the service and steal data from other users on the same network.
- Creating password files – Never create a document with the word password in it, as this would be spotted by any malware scanning your computer. Many people save their passwords in a Word document, just don’t name it passwords.
As you can see, there are many ways that a hacker can steal your data and if you don’t want to become another cyber-crime statistic, you should engage the services of an IT support company who will ensure that your business data is always secure. They work silently in the background, monitoring client networks, using state of the art cyber-security software and should there ever be a hacking attempt, the IT experts can trace the origin of the attack and you can let the authorities know.