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3 Potential Online Threats & How to Protect Yourself against Them

by Olufisayo
Online Threats

The internet and the ability to connect digitally is a remarkable feat. It allows us to communicate, shop, get an education and go to work without having to leave our homes. Unfortunately, the prevalent need and use for the internet coincides with a growing risk of being a cybercrime target.

Online threats are trending upward at an alarming rate, with a 69.4 percent increase in complaints of suspected internet crimes from 2019 to 2020. And, while there’s no guarantee that you can avoid being a target, identifying potential online threats and understanding how to protect yourself will significantly improve your ability to remain unscathed.

Here is how to identify and protect yourself from the three most common online threats.

Password Cracking

What Is It

Password cracking is a common form of an online threat where the goal is to gain access to either financial data, personal information or extort users by obtaining their passwords. Think of your password as a key to opening the door into an account you own. When someone gets your password, they’re able to walk through that door with ease and access highly sensitive personal information.

Password cracking is typically done through two methods. The first is by gaining access to your password with malicious software that tracks your keystrokes, known as keylogging. The second is known as a brute-force attack, which is more akin to kicking your profile’s “door” down. This is achieved by using a password generator that can implement trillions of character combinations.

How to Protect Yourself

Adopting a complex password that uses mixed cases, numbers, letters, symbols and a minimum of eight characters significantly decreases the chances of a brute-force attack. Two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are excellent ways to add a further layer of security. Whether keylogging or attempting to password crack in other ways, it is unlikely a hacker can access your mobile device, code generator, or thumbprint verification to access an account.

Phishing, Vishing, Smishing, and Pharming

What Is It

While it’s not always the most damaging form of hacking, it’s easily the most commonly used. Phishing, and its more specific derivatives, are a type of online attack where cybercriminals impersonate trusted organizations or colleagues through e-mails, text messages, or advertisements with the intent of stealing or collecting sensitive information. Some key indicators that a message might be a phishing scam are:

  • Spelling mistakes and poor grammar
  • Unusual (or awkward) greetings or terms
  • Discrepancies in an e-mail address and the alleged organization
  • Questionable links or attachments
  • Requesting sensitive information (payment details or login credentials)
  • Presenting offers that are too good to be true in exchange for sensitive information (or money)
  • Demand urgent action with the threat of negative consequences
  • Fishy formatting and logos

 How to Protect Yourself

Remain diligent for the signs of phishing e-mails, and be wary of sharing personal details digitally.

Man-in-the-Middle Attack

What Is It

Like many cybercrimes, man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks rely on a combination of phishing, spoofing and hoaxing. The result is an unsolicited third-party (or person) not only eavesdropping on your conversation but potentially altering it and gathering sensitive information as well.

How to Protect Yourself

Changing your router’s default username, password and implementing 2FA or MFA is a great start. However, the best protection method from a man-in-the-middle attack is implementing a third-party service that provides encryption for devices and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to ensure that the servers you send data to are trusted.

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Protect Yourself and Remain Diligent

Protecting yourself from online threats is imperative in our ever-growing digital world. An inconspicuous slip-up can allow a cybercriminal to cause terror by obtaining your personal information and accessing your finances. Be sure to look out for these common online threats.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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