You can’t think about using computers without thinking about the possibility of getting hacked. Part of that is the fact that it’s seemingly mentioned in every 1990s movie plot, but if you want to get down to the real issue, it’s because it happens way too often. People get hacked all the time, and in most cases, it’s highly preventable. While a personal hacking is devastating, a business hacking can be just as dangerous: the loss of data, the loss of business, the loss of trust, can bring a person’s entire livelihood to ruin if a hacking event is effective enough in its goals.
How Hacking Happens
Getting hacked is an issue that occurs in myriad ways, from clicking malicious advertisements (malvertisements) to entering sensitive information on a public network. But while some of these happen occasionally and to relatively few, other hacking events are exceedingly common and can create serious repercussions in each case. The following three are the most common ways that businesses get hacked.
It really is one of the most common issues for cybersecurity in all kinds of businesses, and even personal users: allowing your passwords to be leaked, using weak passwords, or even reused ones, can create a significantly higher chance of being hacked.
There are numerous ways that a password can become compromised. For example, while it should be common sense to most of us now in the digital age, many people still ignore the directive that we should be choosing strong passwords. Many people will instead choose their favorite sports team, a birthday, a pet name, or a combination of similar guessable elements that will make it easier for an outsider with existing information on you to make their way into your most sensitive accounts.
Bank accounts, shopping sites, and email are all guarded by passwords, and it’s imperative that these are kept safe. One important step to keeping them safe is by using ones that aren’t weak in the first place. Another piece of common sense that seems to get ignored all too often, leading to compromised passwords, is the advice to avoid reusing passwords on various sites. The reason for this is that if one password, or just one account, gets hacked, then your password is immediately compromised for every existing account that it protects.
There are other ways passwords can get leaked, including malware attacks and accessing sensitive information on public networks. Whatever the case, this compromising element is a huge factor in businesses finding themselves in sticky situations.
You’ve all heard about the social engineers that, in the early years of PC usage, would send emails claiming to be foreign royalty in dire need of some help. There are other variations, too, but no matter what the email claimed, it always asked for your personal information (usually bank account information in particular) in order to receive that help, and to later “pay you back”.
This is phishing, and while this example is one early version of the practice, phishing has become increasingly widespread and sophisticated, with social engineers pretending to be big companies, legal pursuants, and other authorities or believable figures that can convince a user or a business to give up their sensitive information. There may even be a link offered in the email you’re sent, which when clicked, opens you up to all sorts of hacking opportunities.
Phishing is not just present in emails anymore, nor is it limited to blind mass targeting. Instead, phishers have found ways of learning more about you to make their attempts more personal (a practice known as spear phishing) or even to use other media for phishing, like SMS (smishing) or voice calls (vishing). It may sound silly when you look at the names, but phishing is an incredibly effective means of harming people and businesses alike, and it’s a simple but common way that business users get their identities stolen. This makes it an easy way for hackers to gain access to your business, your personal life, and more.
The Infamous “Drive-By”
On the rise in popularity, if you can call it that, is the drive-by download, a methodology wherein a hacker targets a popular site with a vulnerability, turning it into a vector for malicious downloads that will attack whatever visitor to the site there may be. The drive-by is hard to bypass in many cases, because the site (though compromised) is reputable and doesn’t cause immediate concern when compared with other sites with security certificates. A hacker targeting a specific business may gain knowledge of what sites that business’s users regularly visit, and in doing so will find that site a perfect landing strip for its devious download.
How To Avoid Getting Hacked
What you come across in your day-to-day is numerous opportunities for a hacker to take a whack at your system, at your endpoints, and at your business. While some of these are easily preventable with common sense (like avoiding password leakage), other avenues of attack are more likely to succeed.
In any event, you can use a protection platform to keep yourself safe, even in the event that one of these attacks does succeed in breaching your defenses. The use of an XDR (Extended Detection and Response) platform is one such way, as these are designed to not only seek out the attackers, but to act on their detection and to protect your assets in the meantime.
Whatever you do, though, remember: many of these attacks are preventable in the first place, but not everything is guaranteed. It’s best to have a contingency plan in the case that something gets through, and in doing so, you’ll give yourself a better chance at protecting your livelihood.