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A Beginners Guide To Cybersecurity 1

A Beginner’s Guide to Cybersecurity: Types of Attacks, How to Defend, & What to Do When You Encounter One

The average cost of a data breach increased from $4.24 million to $4.35 million over the last year, and businesses are bearing the brunt of it. In the first half of 2022, more than 53 million Americans fell victim to cybercrimes, experiencing extreme data breaches, identity fraud, ransomware attacks, etc. 

The unfortunate truth is that no one can stop 100% of cybersecurity issues. There are way too many unknown exploits and threats out there to warrant absolute protection. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t put in controls and defenses to ensure that your business and personal data remain safe.

Here’s some important info for anyone who’s here to up their cybersecurity game. 

What Are the Main Types of Cyber Attacks?

Phishing Attacks 

This is a social engineering attack that scammers often use to steal user data. They get the victim’s SSNs, credit card numbers, and login credentials and then use decoy emails and text messages disguised as trusted entities or establishments. This is to lure people into clicking a link that installs malicious applications to freeze devices and networks and reveal sensitive information. 

Ransomware Attacks 

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to computer data or threatens to destroy it. Hackers encrypt the system and ask the victim to pay a fee to decrypt the data. And failure to pay in time can result in permanent data loss.

In 2017, a global ransomware attack called “WannaCry Ransomware Attack” affected around 200,000 users across 150 countries and caused a $4 billion loss.

Malware Attacks

This is when cyber criminals send emails that direct the user to a fake website of an authentic brand. The website asks you to download specific software to access the content. This software is malicious, and scammers use it to access files on your device and monitor your activity. This often results in data loss and breaches. 

Brute Force Attacks 

Hackers use a combination of passwords, hidden web pages, and encryption keys to guess your password to force their way into your accounts. That’s why the method is called Brute Force Attack. 

How Can You Defend Against Cyber Attacks?

Get The Necessary Training

The most common way for cyber criminals to enter the system is through users or employees. An untrained and inexperienced person will open fraudulent links and fall into this trap. Make sure you and your team:

  • Check the links before clicking them 
  • Verify the sender’s email address 
  • Use common sense and don’t give your login info to anyone
  • Immediately contact authorities to report scammers

Update Your Software and Apps

Outdated applications and software can be vulnerable to hackers who use the latest tech to enter the host device. Use a patch management system to keep all computer software and applications up-to-date, and check for updates regularly.

Secure Your Devices 

IoT, or the Internet of Things, are devices interconnected to a single network (for example, Wi-Fi, LAN, and Servers). Any vulnerable device connected to the network can pave the way for hackers and cyber criminals. The best practice is to use end-point security software to protect networks and deceives against malicious threats and cyber attacks.

Use Firewall And Security Software 

Firewalls and security software are the most effective methods to avoid scams, phishing, and malicious attacks. They can detect threats and prevent malicious actors from entering your system. Make sure you get the right type of security software for your devices, systems, and networks.

Backup Your Data 

Data loss is the most common problem in the aftermath of cyber attacks that can hurt people and organizations. Try backing-up data frequently to avoid serious losses. Moreover, keep your backup data secure and encrypt sources to protect them from data breaches. 

Use Strong Passwords 

Strong passwords consist of at least 12 characters, including numbers, lower case, upper case letters, and symbols. Devices that do not have passwords should not be connected to public networks.

You could also set up multi-factor authentication for devices and applications. If a hacker successfully bypasses the password, the second line of defense will require authentication directly from the host.

What Should You Do After a Cyber Attack?

The worst has happened, and a hacker has successfully breached your defenses. Client’s files are inaccessible, confidential data is encrypted, there’s malware on your network, and there are demands for money. 

Do the following immediately:

  • Isolate the affected endpoints, servers, and devices. You do not want the infection to spread.
  • Call in IT security professionals to remediate the security breach. 
  • Notify the authorities starting with your local police department, and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
  • Inform employees and customers if any personally identifiable data has been breached so they can ensure their own safety. Also, periodically inform them of your response and recovery activities
  • Get a 3rd party audit once things have settled down to determine the source of the security lapse.
  • Tighten your security using suitable software, hardware, protocols, and training solutions. Layer these with endpoint protection, firewalls, anti-virus, and other defenses mentioned earlier
  • Don’t forget to inform your cybersecurity insurance provider

Pro Tip: Invest in Cyber Security Insurance 

Cyber security insurance or cyber liability insurance reduces the financial risk for businesses. 

Cyber attacks leave businesses in heavy financial loss, data breaches, and lawsuits. The insurance provides coverage for the 3rd party data loss (SSN, login credentials, or credit card numbers) and also covers direct losses to the company. 

The policy can also cover various cyber attacks and legal costs resulting from lawsuits. So if you have cyber insurance, you can get the help you need to:

  • Stop the attack before it does unsurmountable damage
  • Afford the costs of responding to a data breach
  • Investigate the cause of the attack
  • Restore systems and recover data
  • Inform customers & other stakeholders  
  • Deal with reputational damage
  • Pay fines 
  • Overcome the aftermath of cyber extortion

In Conclusion

You never know where cyber criminals will strike next. So, it is better to be safe than sorry. The cybersecurity practices detailed above are a small fraction of the safeguards available for businesses, organizations, and people. 

Put them to good use and protect yourself against cyber attacks.

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