Protection Against Cyber Attacks

“Here’s something to think about. It is reported that roughly 80 million to 90 million cyber-attacks occur each year, which breaks down to about 400 new attacks every single minute. The sad part of that statistic? Over 70% of these recurring attacks go unnoticed!” People don’t quite understand the risks that come along with using a computer in their daily lives. There are a lot of people that do use security measures to safely browse the internet, download files from the internet, etc. Although many people are safe, there are the few that do not use any precautions or countermeasures and inevitably fall into a trap and end up losing personal information, money, or worst case even their identity. It is important to know what Cyber Security is in a general perspective, the different kinds of attacks that are out there, and the best ways to secure yourself as well as others from the risks they encounter daily when using computers.

To elaborate on the meaning of Cyber Security, It is in broad terms the security of the cyberspace. Cyberspace and its underlying infrastructure are vulnerable to a wide range of risk stemming from both physical & cyber threats and hazards. Cyberspace is particularly difficult to secure due to a number of factions including the ability for malicious operators to operate anywhere in the world. What exactly is a cyber-attack? A cyber-attack is a “deliberate exploitation of computer systems, technology-dependent enterprises or networks.” Cyber-attacks use malicious code to change the code, resulting in disruptive actions that may compromise information and allow for a crime to begin. This oftentimes happens when a person will be downloading what looks to be an anti-virus program to get rid of a virus or malware he/she thinks they may have because their computer is very slow. Once that program is running it may allow for all the data on the computer to be compromised. Once that data is compromised it will allow for a crime to be committed and it turns into a cyber-attack.

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To go into more detail about a cyber-attack, there are many, many different types of cyber attacks. One of the most common cyber-attacks is malware, which can be explained as “malicious code that has a malicious intent” which is often used to destroy something or used to steal personal information such as a person’s credit card information or social security number. Another type of attack is a virus, which is “used to make a PC sick” which then hides within the computer file system. They can replicate themselves by attaching to other programs and or files. They’re usually used to slow down computers to the point of no recovery and the user can no longer use the computer properly anymore. Spyware is another type of attack and is used to “spy on its victim”. These types of attacks usually hide, as a spy would do in real life. They can log a victim’s actions, and are capable of recording keystrokes, which means they can see passwords that the victim types into the computer through the keyboard. Similar to a virus, is a worm. It “replicates itself” but unlike a virus “doesn’t need to attach to a file and or program.” Worms can live by themselves and can replicate across different computers or networks, such as a school network, computer to computer. On the other hand, there are password attacks focused on a different goal, to gain access to a secured system such as a database or admin account. The first method and most commonly used is a brute-force. This method is used to crack a password. Brute force “is using all possible combos of letters, numbers, and symbols to enter a correct password.” Another type of password attack is a dictionary attack, which is when an attacker “uses a dictionary to crack a password.” The most essentials words in the dictionary are used to guess the password of a user’s account. The last type of attack is to deny the service someone is using or currently owns. It is most commonly known as a DOS attack, or a “denial of service” attack. This is a special form of attack to “interrupt a network service” which is able to be achieved by sending high volumes of packets, or traffic through the target until slowed down or stopped completely. There are much more that are not listed, but these are the most commonly known and used types of attacks used by cyber criminals.

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Additionally, everyone should know how to protect themselves from the different types of attacks listed above and know how to be safe when using computers in their everyday lives. People should not “click unknown links in their emails”, if it were to be legit you should be able to go to a website that it came from and verify that it is legit. Another safety tip includes “not downloading attachments” in emails received from retailers. Typically retailers do not include attachments, and if there is any doubt that it is not real you should call the company first. A big safety tip is “Do not give out personal information over phone or computer.” Social Engineering is a process used to trick people into doing something they would not normally do such as updating their password on a website or giving a ‘security professional’ their passwords to make sure they’re account is not in harm’s way. Some basic safety guidelines are as follows: Set secure passwords, keep everything up to date, pay close attentions to URL’s, be suspicious of any clickable links, and verify everything possible. Now for the more technical part, this would include having a great antivirus program. “Antivirus programs usually well take care of virus quickly and efficiently.” Although people can get antivirus programs, there are new virus’s made daily and are not updated within the system instantly which are defined as “rogue viruses which even the best scanners can’t find them.” A rogue virus is defined as “an infection where it displays itself on the PC screen, pretending to be a virus cleaner, registry cleaner, or hard drive optimization tool.” They can scare you into purchasing something to remove “fake viruses” or say “your computer is in poor condition.”

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