Cybersecurity threats have evolved over the years. And for business owners to be prepared, it’s important that your protection and knowledge evolve accordingly. In the past, the right technology safeguards, such as firewalls and anti-virus/malware protection were adequate.
But now, hackers have responded by shifting their target from technical vulnerabilities to PEOPLE vulnerabilities. It’s much easier for a hacker to trick you into unknowingly giving up access to your computer and sensitive information. Hackers often utilize our everyday habits and familiar tools for their exploits. Below are 5 of these hidden threats, and how you can protect against them.
1. Portable drives
People often use USB portable drives for storing and transferring files. Hackers know that they are a commonly used technology, so they’ll often load their viruses/malware on a USB portable drive and drop it near the entrance of a building. They’ll even add a label titled “Confidential”, “Company Salary Information”, or other intriguing labels to entice you into picking it up and plugging it into your computer. As soon as you plug it in your computer, the malware is immediately transferred to your computer and spreads to other computers on your network. So, make sure you never plug in drives from unknown sources.
2. Beware of “FREE”
Free apps and free social media services are frequently used to collect and sell your sensitive personal data. Your contacts, pictures, messages, and other very sensitive information are gathered by the app, and — unknown to you — are often uploaded to the provider to be sold to others. Your privacy and personal information is valuable. So, be careful with “free” apps and always look over the privacy policies for the social media websites you use.
3. Don’t use public or free WiFi
While the free WiFi at the coffee shop, airport, or other public location may be convenient, it is also dangerous and best avoided if possible. Hackers can use free WiFi to gain access to your PC and steal information. Instead, try using the tethering option on your cell phone to setup your own private, secure internet connection (be sure to check your cellular data plan usage), or wait until you are back to your office or home to use a private, secured connection.
4. Secure your paper documents
Don’t leave confidential/sensitive documents lying around on your desk unattended. Hackers can walk around an office environment looking for unattended documents they can use to gain access. Before you leave your office, put away and protect those sensitive documents. Implement a “Clean Desk Policy” at your company.
5. Report suspicious activity
If you see an unknown person walking around the office, or your computer system has changed in some way with no notice from your IT team, communicate it to management. Communication is vital to address these issues as you can work with your team to minimize the threat.
Mark Johnson is the Chief Executive at Xtrii. He is an award-winning, global CIO, CTO, CEO and business leader. For more than 30 years he has helped some of the world's best organizations achieve extraordinary success. For more details visit his LinkedIn profile or follow him on Twitter @johnsonme.