Beware of Malware: How To Protect Yourself From Cyber Crime
Modern advances in the realm of computer technology make our lives easier, exchange of information faster, and our daily tasks more efficient. However, like all powerful tools, advanced technology in the wrong hands can easily be turned against us. Any crime committed over the Internet is called a cyber crime. These types of attacks on our privacy are becoming increasingly more common, posing a greater danger to individuals and companies every year. Listed below are some of the most common types of cyber attacks:
- Social engineering – In this tactic, hackers manipulate users into performing certain actions that will provide the hacker with private information. For instance, you might not even realize the amount of supposedly private information that can be found in your social media accounts. From your date of birth to the name of your first pet to your mother’s maiden name, cyber criminals can use the information you make publicly available on social media to blaze through standard security questions. This way hackers can reset passwords and gain access to your bank accounts or work emails, gaining access to all kinds of private online accounts.
- Spearphishing – This technique uses emails to get access to confidential data from a specific company or organization. These emails appear to come from a trusted sources, such as your company’s IT professional. Perpetrators might find a website that a company or an individual commonly uses and send an email, complete with available details to feign authenticity. This email appears to come from someone who might reasonably request this information and asks the victim to log into a fake page using their username and password or to click on a link that downloads malicious programs or spyware. Tricking even a single employee can be enough for an attacker to use social engineering techniques described above to gain further access to private data.
- Whaling – Hackers can fish for a larger catch by targeting upper management of a firm to trick them into giving away private information. This kind of cyber attack can give hackers access to trade secrets, corporate networks, hard drives, and financial information of the company, as well as their clients. In 2008 an infamous whaling attack targeted 20,000 CEOs by sending out an official-looking email that appeared to be a federal subpoena. About 2,000 of these CEOs fell for the trap, clicking on a link that would supposedly allow them to see the subpoena. Instead, the link downloaded spyware that allowed the hackers to launch further attacks against those companies.
- Microphishing – This kind of attack is tailored specifically to an individual within a company. The hacker might learn their email habits, copy their email signature, even use abbreviations or nicknames this person commonly uses. Hackers commonly apply this technique to wire transfers, asking the employee to transfer funds to an incorrect account.
These methods represent only a fraction of all the devious techniques hackers can use to mine for private information. Some common red flags include emails that require a download or website visit to view an official document, the sender’s address is similar but not identical to a familiar one, the email refers to a legal proceeding that you’ve never heard of, and so on. Overall, beware of any suspicious emails or links, because when it comes to cyber security, it’s better to stray on the safe side. 
 American Land Title Association. “Title Agent Snuffs Out Fraudulent Email Attempting to Obtain Funds.” February 2, 2016. http://blog.alta.org/2016/02/alta-member-snuffs-out-fraudulent-email-to-obtain-funds-a-title-agents-diligence-in-washington-successfully-prevented-a.html