When it comes to IT and cyber security, the risks faced by companies today can be vast and varied. Many businesses are unaware of what these risks are, how they may affect them and how to combat them. Understanding common cyber security risks can help you effectively protect your business from them and mitigate the damage should an attack occur. In this guide, we’ll show you some of the most common cyber security risks facing companies today, what they look like, and how to protect yourself from them. Let’s get started!
What are the most common cyber security risks
- Risks from your computer
- Risks while using public WiFi
- Risks while using social media
- Risks with mobile devices
- Protecting yourself online
Risks from your computer
You should always use reliable, updated antivirus software. Some programs will scan for viruses automatically; others require you to scan at regular intervals. Regardless of which route you take, it’s important to check your computer for viruses on a regular basis. Additionally, if you share a computer with someone else in your household, make sure that person is also using proper antivirus software.
If you work with sensitive information, like banking or credit card information, there are additional steps you can take to protect yourself. For example, make sure that your computer’s login screen is protected by a password. You can also use software that locks files after a specific period of inactivity to prevent others from accessing your information if your computer is lost or stolen.
The best way to protect yourself against an attack is to limit what you click on when browsing online. Attackers may try to trick you into clicking on links that appear safe and harmless, but actually lead to malicious websites designed for financial gain or identity theft.
Risks while using public WiFi
Public Wi-Fi networks, like any open network, can be risky. While you’re on a public WiFi network that you don’t know or trust, your data could potentially be monitored and captured by other users on that same network. You may also want to consider some added protection while using public Wi-Fi networks such as accessing sites via HTTPS instead of HTTP and performing basic malware scans on your computer before connecting to unknown or untrusted networks. The potential for identity theft is real; use caution when surfing online on public networks.
Identity theft isn’t limited to public networks. If you’re using a hotspot on your phone, laptop, or another device, someone nearby may be able to intercept the information you’re sending over that network and access your personal data and accounts. In addition, public networks don’t offer encryption by default, so if you connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi network without encryption turned on in your settings, you run a risk of allowing strangers to read or even change anything sent over that connection.
Set up a virtual private network (VPN): When using any open Wi-Fi network—whether at home or a public hotspot—you want to make sure that your data is encrypted and can’t be easily intercepted by anyone nearby.
Risks while using social media
We’re all on social media, so there’s no getting around that. But where you connect, and how you connect to others can increase your risk of getting hacked. The same is true of how you share data. Make sure that you keep your account information private and password-protected at all times. It’s also important to make sure that your computer is up-to-date with patches and software updates before logging in to your accounts. You should also use only secure networks when accessing social media or conducting financial transactions online.
One of the biggest social media dangers is connecting with strangers. This can easily lead to links being shared, personal data being harvested and malware and viruses being sent your way.
For an added layer of protection, you can also install a virtual private network (VPN) on your computer or mobile device before using public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server so that only you have access to it. That means that even if a hacker finds their way into a network they won’t be able to access any sensitive information you send while connected.
Risks with mobile devices
According to a survey by Capgemini and Ponemon Institute, 12% of respondents acknowledged a data breach at their company as a result of lost or stolen mobile devices. Employees need to be aware that they are not just in danger of losing sensitive information from computers – but their smartphones and tablets as well. Mobile devices, which typically store much more personal information than computers, should be encrypted with a password so no one can access it without permission. You should also consider installing spyware-detection software on your employees’ mobile devices. If any sort of unauthorized activity is detected, you can get an alert immediately and take action to prevent further damage.
Employees should also be required to remove their SIM cards and disable mobile data if a device is lost or stolen. This makes it harder for anyone else to access confidential company information, even if they have your phone. If someone has your device, all they’ll see is a picture of a cartoon sheep when they try to unlock it. By using two-factor authentication, you can ensure that only authorized users can access your network and data storage devices in case of unauthorized use or theft. As well as making employees aware of how easy it is for hackers to steal mobile devices and access sensitive company information, you should train them on how to protect their devices from being hacked by malicious software.
Protecting yourself online
Cyber threats come in all shapes and sizes, but we can use some general principles to help protect ourselves. Of course, no one knows for sure what will happen or when (don’t worry—you won’t be responsible for stopping every single threat), but generally speaking, you can use some basic principles to protect yourself online. First and foremost, avoid downloading files from untrusted sources: there’s no need to subject your computer to a virus just so you can take home a cute new screensaver. If you aren’t sure where a file came from, don’t open it—there are plenty of safe places on the internet where you can download music and movies without worrying about becoming part of someone else’s botnet.