Some cyberthreats get all the publicity.
So, it’s great that Wired recently published an article about seven lesser-known cybersecurity threats that everyone should know about; true, they may not be as “newsworthy” as ransomware attacks and data breaches, but they can do serious damage to your data and privacy nonetheless.
Here is a summary of the list:
1. USB Sticks
USBs appear to be innocuous, but can carry major threats. Once you plug one into your USB drive, it can start causing damage as soon as you open a file on the USB.
Experiments show that users really do sometimes plug in USB drives they find on the ground. An experiment run in 2016 by Google, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Michigan placed 297 USB drives around the Urbana-Champaign campus and found that 48 per cent of the USBs were plugged into a computer – some within minutes of being placed.
Always be careful when connecting a USB drive to your computer if you’re not absolutely sure where it came from. The best way to protect your computer from USB-caused damage is to keep your computer’s operating system up to date and have security tools installed and updated. You can also run a virus scan on the USB drive before clicking on any files in it.
2. Zombie Accounts
Zombie accounts are apps and online accounts that you previously signed up for but may no longer use or even forgot you ever had. You should take the time to properly shut down these accounts rather than just uninstalling them from your devices. If you don’t, these apps or accounts could experience a data breach that includes your information.
3. Untrusted Browser Extensions
Before you add a browser extension, you should vet it by reviewing the developer’s background, its permissions requested, and online reviews to make sure you can trust it and that you actually need it. The wrong browser-extension downloaded can end up exploiting your data, installing extra software, and inundating you with pop-up advertising. Remember that allowing a browser extension provides the extension’s developers with the ability to see everything you’re doing online.
4. Bogus Online Quizzes
Some online quizzes seem like harmless fun – “Who’s my inner celebrity?”, “Where do I find a soulmate?”, “Which one is my spirit animal?” – but often these quizzes ask for and exploit personal data, such as your high school, pet’s name, address, and lots of other information. Hackers can use this information to impersonate you.
A segment by Jimmy Kimmel Live, called “What is your Password?”, demonstrates how easy it is get someone’s password by using their personal information. So, before you take the next online quiz, don’t answer any questions that a hacker can use to impersonate you or crack your password.
5. Leaky Photo Uploads
Think twice before posting certain photos to your social-media channels. If a photo can provide personal information – the place you live or work – you may want to rethink posting it. Social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, automatically strip out location data saved with photos but some, such as Google Photos, can keep this information embedded in the file after it’s been shared. If this information stays with the photo, it’s easier for thieves to run an identity-theft scam to get past security questions on your account.
6. Smart-Home Snooping
With homes getting smarter, it’s easier for hackers to open your locked doors and view your security- camera footage. When you buy smart-home devices, ensure they are well-established brands with a strong hardware track record. Also, keep your software on your smart-home device and router up to date, and change the default password with two-factor authentication.
7. Malicious Charging Cables
There are now fake lightning cables that look like the real thing, but give hackers remote access to your device when they’re plugged in. The user plugs in the cable, agrees to the “trust this computer” request, and that’s that. Best advice: only use cables that come with your devices or you know are from reputable sources.
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An IT provider understands how to secure your systems when you are vulnerable; knowing these things is key to protecting you and your organization’s bottom line. If you have questions about your organization’s security, we can help. Contact Michael Anderson.
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