The internet has revolutionized nearly every aspect of modern life. It is nearly impossible to imagine businesses operating without online data. However, the convenience of email, web browsing and text messages also brings serious potential weaknesses.
Hackers are always seeking ways to gain access to personal and company data, and often succeeding. Here are some digital threats to be on the lookout for:
Fake Wi-Fi Networks
Many public places such as libraries, coffee shops and even airports offer free public Wi-Fi. While it’s not a good idea to transmit sensitive data over a public Wi-Fi connection, these access points are generally reasonably safe for browsing the web for news or streaming video. However, in many cases, what appears to be legitimate public Wi-Fi hotspots are actually fake portals designed to steal passwords and other sensitive information.
These fake Wi-Fi networks can be difficult to differentiate from legitimate public hotspots, but there are a few telltale signs. Most legitimate public Wi-Fi spots do not require passwords for access, but they do require agreement with their terms and conditions. By contrast, fake Wi-Fi networks will connect users immediately – but operate sluggishly with lagging that reflects the fraudulent activity taking place behind the scenes.
Trojans, Malware and Spyware
Hackers also gain access to vulnerable computers through Trojans, malware and spyware. Keyloggers are an especially vicious form of infiltration. A keylogger is a program that records every keystroke made on keyboards connected to infected computers. That information is relayed back to the hacker, who then uses it to harvest credit card data, banking records and other sensitive financial and personal information. This type of unauthorized activity can go on for a very long time before victims are even aware they’ve been infected.
Phishing occurs through malicious links embedded in email messages that are designed to look legitimate. Some phishing schemes are obvious fakes, such as claims from a Nigerian prince that the victim has been selected to receive a large sum of money. Others are more sophisticated, like scary messages warning victims that their bank debit cards have been compromised. While most people won’t fall for Nigerian scams, the latter type of email can often appear to be legitimate.
Sometimes hackers gain access to computers by embedding malicious code into legitimate websites. Drive–by downloads gain access to victims’ computers through vulnerabilities and weakness in an operating system or security software that has not been properly updated. Victims pick up malware from infected sites through ordinary surfing and are often unaware that their computers have been infected. Website owners are likewise unaware that their sites have been infected until victims begin complaining.
Protecting Company Data
The hazards from hackers gaining unauthorized access to sensitive company data are indisputable. The only 100 percent guarantee for companies against becoming targeted or infected is to take all of their computers completely offline. That’s neither feasible nor desirable.
Invest in Protection
While commonsense measures can provide some safeguards, they do not provide the level of protection needed to protect your data from sophisticated hackers. It’s prudent to invest in professional protection such as LifeLock with Norton 360 to get a firm defense that is designed to thwart a wide range of online threats. With identity theft protection, device security and VPN, the combination of LifeLock and Norton 360 can help keep your company data safe and quickly identity and remedy any issues if they do occur.
Simple measures such as not clicking on links in suspicious emails, using a VPN to access public Wi-Fi hotspots and software updated can minimize the risk of infection from phishing, malware and spyware. Take the time to educate your staff to prevent them from engaging in unsafe online practices as well. However, for maximum protection of critical company operational, financial or personnel data, it is well worth investing in professional protection.