The Different Tactics Hackers Use to Gain Access to Your Computer

We’d all like to think that hackers are spending weeks on end planning their every move to attack a business but the truth of it is nowhere near as exciting. Although this could happen to a big target, for most people it’s a lot more boring and they get ‘accidentally’ caught in the net as hackers looking to make a quick buck send out malware or ransomware hoping someone will fall into the trap.

That doesn’t mean the effects aren’t any less devastating!

So, to make sure you can protect yourself, let’s look at the various different tactics that hackers deploy to try and steal your business’ data.

1. Relying on Human Error

We’re sorry to say that lack of education in businesses and human error by employees account for a large portion of breaches in our experience. For example, employees attempting to access internal systems from unsafe locations, using personal (infected) devices on the network, or clicking malicious links in an email. Hackers cast their net far and wide, and the likelihood is someone will click something and open the door. And that’s all they need. 

Hackers also pray on the lack of oversight from business owners on their employees. According to Keeper Securities’ State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (SMB) report from 2017, 59% of small businesses do not have insight into the types of passwords employees use. This means that although the company is liable for a breach, they aren’t enforcing or even aware of the security standards of the passwords in use. 

2. Phishing

Usually in form of an email that is spoofed to look like it’s coming from another sender, like your bank, or ISP. It will urge you to act immediately or you might lose your account, money, or face infractions. 48% of hacks on companies last year found that phishing or social engineering were the result.

Here are the warning signs you need to look out for in a phishing email

12 Warning Signs Of A Phishing Email

3. Public/Free Wi-Fi

Public computers and Wi-Fi networks are notorious for being plagued with malicious software that “sniffs” for data packets while you are using them. You risk losing your account data as soon as you type in your password. 

4. Phone Calls

Surprisingly these still work! Hackers have been known to ring you claiming to be your bank or an organisation you’re affiliated with and ask you to confirm details over the phone. For example, banking pins or passwords as well as talking to you about family data or information, like your mother’s maiden name to get the ‘security question’ answers or take a stab at your password. If you feel a phone call is suspicious, never hand over your data, simply tell them now isn’t a good time and hang up.

5. Weak Passwords

Lazy, generic and consequently weak passwords are the easiest way for hackers to get access to your accounts. Many small business owners admitted that, while they still have password strength policies, 68% do not enforce them. A generic or commonly used password like 12345, makes it easy for hackers to gain access to your email or computer.

Check out our article below on protecting your password from hackers:

How To Protect Your Email Password From Hackers

6. An Out-of-Date OS

While nobody likes how long OS updates take, they exist for a reason: to address flaws within the code that can potentially be exploited. Without regular updates, you enable easy access to hackers who are aware of the weak points.

7. Infected Attachments

It’s not just the links you should be wary of in an email. Masked to look like images or documents, they often carry viruses, malware, or spyware, like a keylogger that will install to your device and record your every keystroke to get your passwords that way.

8. Dodgy Devices

Be wary of those free devices being handed out to you as “freebies” in many cases, hackers can load malware or keystroke loggers on them so that when they are entered onto the computer they immediately infect it.

9. Pineapples – Spoofed Wi-Fi Points

A Wi-Fi pineapple is a fake Wi-Fi access point that has been purely set up to steal your data but it masks as public Wi-Fi. From the hacker’s point of view, they have multiple programs and software running to gain access but to the unsuspecting user, they just jump on as usual and voila, instant access to your data.

10. Unsuspecting Accessories

Your new smart lock, phone controlled thermostat, camera that is enabled to a network, card reader or any other online accessory all have access to your network. Hackers can use these as easy points of entry if they aren’t protected correctly to access your network and get to your data that way!

Unfortunately, we’ve only just scratched the surface of how hackers can access your data and your files, and this is why we are firm advocators for using file protection as part of your cyber security strategy. That way, hackers can’t access the data from your files once you’ve been breached, therefore protecting the data stored within them.

To get automatic file and email encryption for small businesses using Microsoft’s Azure Information Protection, click the image below to get half off our course on udemy:

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