Viruses and malicious software both top the list of common computer threats in the 21st century, but we can’t lose focus of one of the more traditional dangers: hacking.
A criminal art form that once required hours of scanning computer code and immense knowledge of networking infrastructure is now accessible to nearly anyone with a few hours of spare time and an Internet connection — and companies and consumers are paying the price.
But some systems make better targets than others. Many consumers and businesses even make it easier for a hack to occur — and they don’t even realize it.
- Reusing Your Password Among Different Websites
We spend a lot of time choosing our online passwords. As sites require passwords of increasing length and complexity, most of our focus goes into selecting a phrase we can easily remember, yet is still secure enough to meet modern security demands.
But this causes us to overlook another common problem — reusing the same password across different websites.
If a hacker gains access to one site, they’ll easily have access to the email address you used to sign up and your password — and you can bet they’ll plug this information into other login portals and sites, too.
- Falling for Online Scams or Fake Emails
Online scams and fake emails are everywhere on the modern Internet. It’s hard enough for a tech-savvy IT expert to avoid falling victim to one of these ploys — and the odds are even worse for someone who is new to the online world.
Although there isn’t one strategy you can rely on to avoid scams or malicious email, a little bit of common sense goes a long way. As a rule of thumb, if something sounds too good to be true, you’re best off avoiding it altogether.
- Being Careless With Your Data
Those who are careless with their data also make prime targets for next-gen hackers. It doesn’t matter if it’s your personal data, insight into your business or details on other consumers — hackers and identity thieves want that information.
Not only can they potentially sell that information on the dark web, but the ramifications of that stolen data could cost you additional money.
- Ignoring Two-Factor Authentication
If you’re familiar with cloud computing, you’ve probably heard the term “two-factor authentication.” Simply put, users who log in to a site using two-factor authentication, or 2FA, must pass two different avenues of verification to gain access to the account. The two factors typically consist of a standard password login and an accompanying secret code generated via text message or email.
Since 2FA requires access to a completely separate account or device, it’s exponentially safer than standalone password protection. Many cloud providers already use 2FA, and some experts predict a significant rise in its usage in the future.
- Failing to Back up Your Data
Those who fail to back up their data on a regular basis are also highly susceptible to hacks and other online threats. A hacker might not even be aware that you don’t have a backup — the brunt of the damage could occur without the intruder even realizing it.
Users who back up their data will find it much easier to recover from an attack after it occurs. According to recent stats, approximately 60 percent of companies that lose their data will cease operations within six months following an incident — this could be catastrophic if you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner.
- Hosting Confidential or Sensitive Data
This one applies to businesses and organizations more than consumers, but computer systems that house confidential or sensitive data, like classified information or personal details on customers and shoppers, are a huge target for today’s hackers. The issue of corporate espionage is a real threat that even drew the attention of former FBI director James Comey.
Besides online cyber-spies, many hackers just get a thrill from wreaking havoc wherever possible. Others might be seeking revenge. There are numerous reasons a hacker or criminal might want to gain access to such information, and it’s up to today’s IT experts to cover all their bases and protect all fronts.
Avoiding Hackers and Other Online Threats
Today’s online landscape is a scary and downright dangerous place. Between identity theft, online harassment and large-scale data breaches, there are hazards to businesses and consumers alike.
Although we can’t protect ourselves from every single threat out there, there are plenty of steps we can take to avoid online threats and minimize our risks of encountering a modern-day computer hacker.