As our digital world evolves each year, cyber attacks get more and more sophisticated. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified that trend. As our reliance on the internet for work and recreation skyrocketed, so did the frequency of cyber attacks

Cyber attacks can be costly, damaging to a company’s reputation, and can even cause businesses to shut down entirely. It’s important to know what to look out for so you can proactively protect your business. 

Here are some common cyber attacks to keep in mind in 2022.

PHISHING

In 2020, phishing was the most common internet crime reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Phishing, a social engineering attack that aims to steal personal information, is expected to continue to be a common cyber attack this year.

Phishing attacks often come in the form of an email or text that appears to be from a legitimate business. Phishing messages may prompt you to update, verify, or otherwise reveal your personal information like passwords or credit card information. 

Sometimes the messages start with strange wording like “dear employee” or are too generic or poorly written to seem trustworthy. Other phishing attempts are harder to identify as phony. Emails that claim to be from legitimate business may only have one letter slightly off in the email address, something that’s hard to notice at first glance. 

Phishing attacks can result in financial losses if employees are fooled into transferring funds to hackers or revealing credit card information. The cost of phishing attacks has been rising in recent years, with phishing attacks costing businesses around $1,500 per employee. 

DISTRIBUTED DENIAL OF SERVICE

Distributed denial of service attacks continue to be a significant threat and have been on the rise during the pandemic. There were more than 10 million attacks in 2020, which is 1.6 million more than 2019.

Distributed denial of service attacks attempt to crash a web server or online system by overwhelming it with data that is sent from many individual computers all at once. This method makes it hard to find the true source of the attack. Since these attacks can deny consumers access to a website, they can result in a loss of business. 

MALWARE

Malware refers to any malicious software that gains unauthorized access to systems to collect private information or cause damage in some way. Viruses, ransomware, and spyware fall under the umbrella of malware. 

Malware can get on a device in a lot of ways, like by downloading infected files, clicking unsafe email attachments, or installing unfamiliar apps. Even visiting a legitimate website can lead to malware through malvertising, which spreads malware via infected advertisements. 

Some signs of having malware are getting incessant popup ads, your browser being continuously redirected, or your device slowing down. Repairing a device that has been infected with malware involves shutting off internet access to the device and running anti-virus scans. Working through that process disrupts the workday and decreases employee productivity. 

RANSOMWARE

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that involves encrypting files on a computer and holding them hostage until the victim pays a fee. Ransomware preys on the fear people feel when they don’t want their data to be withheld,  or worse, released widely. 

Some companies or individuals end up paying the fee to get their information back, but that’s not the right thing to do. It only encourages the attackers, so don’t pay the fee even if it seems like the only option. Keep in mind that even if you pay, you aren’t guaranteed to get your information back and are more likely to be targeted again.  

Not paying the fee could mean losing your entire business, so it’s important to take proactive steps. Multi-factor authentication and regularly backing data up are some ways to mitigate the damage of a ransomware attack. 

DATA BREACHES

In 2021, the number of data breaches outpaced 2020, so it wouldn’t be surprising if 2022 saw another surge. 

Data breaches happen when a cyber criminal accesses, steals, and exposes information without authorization. Small businesses are often targeted for these cyber attacks. 

Data breaches not only result in stolen passwords, credit card information, social security numbers, email addresses, or other personal information they damage a company’s reputation. It can be hard to build back credibility with consumers, particularly for businesses that haven’t had much time to get established.  Plus, the financial losses can be difficult or impossible to recover from.

BE PROACTIVE AND PREVENT ATTACKS 

One of the best ways to prevent cyber attacks is to train employees on what to look for and what steps to take if they are being targeted for a cyber attack. Prioritize backing data up regularly, have employees and customers routinely change passwords, keep software updated, and have a plan for how your business will respond if you are the victim of one of these common attacks. 

Even though cyber attacks becoming more advanced can be worrisome, so does cyber security. At Cornerstone Technologies, we’re passionate about helping you prevent cyber attacks. We work on day-to-day security so you can focus on growing your business with peace of mind. Contact us today to find out how we can help keep your data and network safe!