5 Cyber Security Threats to be Aware of in 2017

This year is coming to a close and we should prepare to protect ourselves from the innovative and imminent cyber threats of 2017. Being aware will keep you ahead of the game and ensure you’re secure and protected against all the latest threats. Learn more about some of the biggest cyber threats to look out for in the upcoming year.


1. Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware has been a tremendous threat to users all over the globe, but they have only been getting more sophisticated and troublesome over time. Hackers can gain access to your computer, encrypt your files and demand a payment in return for your files back.

Traditional ransomware will evolve less in targeting individual users and computers, but it will be capable of infecting hundreds of machines at a time, similar to what recently happened to the Municipal Transport Agency in San Francisco where 2000 systems were locked with ransomwar. It will also evolve in a direction similar to what recently happened with Popcorn Time where users are urged to infect two other users instead of being infected themselves. There’s a good change that these tactics will become more advanced and widespread in the upcoming year.

How to stay safe?

Be sure to back up your files with a high-quality back-up solution to protect your personal information. This is a great precaution to ensure that your files are safe and accessible to you – for free – no matter what happens. Exercise extreme caution when opening up email attachments or clicking on links sent from emails. Use a VPN to have a secured connection if you’re ever using public wifi and be sure to install antivirus and firewall software and ensure it’s updated.


2. IoT and DDoS Hacks

As more devices are becoming internet enabled and accessible, the security measures meant to protect these devices aren’t keeping up. The Internet of Things is meant to bring household devices together to communicate with us and each other. By default, these devices are open and available to the internet and are protected with default passwords. Hackers are increasing their attention to new ways of leveraging IoT devices for malicious purposes. These devices bring a vulnerability to the network they are connected to, making it easy for hackers to take advantage of them.

IoT devices are utilized for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) to flood a targeted website by an overwhelming amount of requests from millions of connected machines, exactly like the Mirai Botnet this October. Smart devices use open public ports so that they can be accessible away from home. Hackers establish a large database of these open ports to form a botnet, a large amount of exploitable ports they can infect with malware. Then, these devices are used to transmit small amounts of data to aid in a DDoS attack.

How to stay safe?

Change the default username and passwords through the appliance’s hub either on a webpage, a smartphone app or through the manufacturer’s website. This step is necessary to secure your routers, printers, web cameras, DVRs, and all connected smart appliances. Check for firmware updates to ensure there aren’t security patches that leave you vulnerable.

If you aren’t sure if you’re at risk, it might be a good idea to reboot your machine since malware in IoT devices are only located in the device’s temporary memory. In order for hackers to carry out a massive DDoS attack, they would be required to infect and re-infect new devices every day if they were rebooted.


3. Hack Attacks

Hackers look for various ways to break into a network, and usually they can accomplish this by exploiting unpatched software security holes. The goal of their hack is to commit identity theft by stealing sensitive personal information and using it pretending to be you. Hackers are breaking into networks, which give them access to this information without means of phishing or through ransomware attacks.

How to stay safe?

Ensure that your applications and operating software are regularly updated with the latest security patches. This will ensure you’re fully protected from a hack attack.


4. Phishing Attacks

The number of phishing attacks are on the rise, as they have been for the past few years. Emails disguised as banking or work emails prove the most effective at tricking people into thinking they are legitimate. These emails then link to a webpage that looks legitimate but is actually fraudulent and will request credit card and bank account information, as well as other sensitive personal details. These websites are created to spread malware and to gain access to your personal information. Learn more about how you can spot a phishing attempt and how to protect yourself from identity theft.

How to stay safe?

Be very cautious when clicking on attachments or links from an email, always look at the URL spelling to ensure there aren’t any typos and be very wary about inputting personal and financial details online. It will be very helpful to have an effective antivirus solution that includes anti-phishing protection to ensure you’re safe from phishing attempts as a robust second line of defense.


5. Typosquatting

Nearing the end of 2016, we noticed a lot of fake news articles making their way around the internet, inspiring a new way for hackers to distribute malware and attempt to steal your information. Cyber criminals are now making fake websites that are intended to look exactly like the real one, by securing URLs that have a slight typo from their legitimate counterparts. After you type in the URL, the website is designed to look exactly like the original, so you wouldn’t even think you made an error inputting the web address.

They do this in the hopes that you would input your credentials, believing that you’re providing this information to a site that you can trust. In some cases, these websites distribute malware while also being a phishing scam, hoping to steal your personal and financial information.

How to Stay Safe?

Double check when you enter a URL that there are not any typos in the web address. It is advisable to make bookmarks on your computer with the legitimate websites and this will help to ensure that you’re accessing the real website every time. Ensure you’ve installed antivirus software and an anti-phishing solution to ensure you won’t be a victim of typosquatting.


Now that you are aware of the cyber risks that face 2017, you can be on high alert to make sure you won’t be vulnerable to identity theft or hackers.

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