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Now that the kiddos are back in school. It’s time for our own little refresher course on the always-evolving subject that should keep us all up at night – Cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, due to today’s ever-changing technology, I doubt there will ever be an absolute state of Cybersecurity unless you’ve gone off the grid completely. But we can take precautions. So, let’s bone up on the basics, and conduct our little Cybersecurity 101.

What should you be afraid of? Plenty. It’s a hacker’s jungle out there. But we’ll stick to the biggies.

THE TOP 5 CYBER THREATS TO AVERT
1.  RANSOMWARE.

Yes, it’s a thing, and one of the fastest-growing cybercrimes out there. This is when some evil entity plants malicious software on your computer that encrypts all your precious files – photos, music, documents, databases– you name it!  Then, those hack-a-dastards hold it all hostage until you buck-up and pay up the ransom.

How does it happen? Often, it’s an innocent, alluring email attachment you or “someone” at your organization (usually a weak link) unknowingly, or stupidly, opens and downloads.  And BOOM! You’re INFECTED. All systems down and the hacker will present a ransom amount to be paid in the form of Bitcoin or the like.

Truth is, some cyber- shysters will send a key for the encrypted files. Too many don’t even bother.

Not-so-fun fact:  ONLY 47% of people who pay the ransom will get their files back.

HERE’S THE SCARY PART!

Data-napper wanna-be’s can actually buy a D.I.Y. ransomware package in the cybercrime online underground. Yes, the cyber-sleazeo mall. Good ones run about $400 and come loaded with all bells-and-whistles a crook would ever want.

Ransomware happens so often that I highly recommend that you create and rehearse a really good sob story to talk your could-be cyberthief out of robbing you blind. For real, one popular ransomware package actually advertises a “let your victim off the hook” feature. It’s called “Mercy”. Isn’t that sweet?

2.  THE DRIVE-BY ATTACK

Why is it called a DRIVE-BY? Because that’s exactly what happens. You can catch a nasty virus just passing through an unsecured Website.  Yep, it’s just that easy.

“WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH THAT VIRUS?”

How would you know if a website is secure?  One rule of thumb is that little padlock ICON to the left web address in the browser bar before the “HTTP.”

If there’s no padlock icon in front of the URL, you’re running the risk of a nasty malware script hitchin’ its wagon to your computer, or turning itself into an IFRAME that redirects you to the attacker’s website to have its way with your hard drive. Here’s the rub. You won’t feel a thing until it TOO LATE. ¡Hasta la virus, sucker!

3.  BOTNET ATTACKS

What’s a BOTNET? Like ZOMBIES, it’s a network or group of devices on the same network that are on a mission to burrow into and take control of our computer’s brains. Before we or even our devices know it, those ZOMBIES have infiltrated and infected our entire networks with malicious code or malware.

Those botnets remind of a really twisted and sadly canceled show called Braindead, where extraterrestrial insects (ants, really) crawl their way into congressmen’ and other politicos’ brains to invade Washington, D.C. BOTNETS ARE NOT FICTION, but they have taken down the big boys–  major retailers, financial institutions, government sites, and more.

4.  SOCIAL ENGINEERING ATTACKS

Ohh, the true con-artists of cyberspace. You may think you can spot this one a mile away, but not the good ones. They are slick.  Masters at their trade and know what makes PEOPLE click.

These conniving social engineers do their homework. They may hook their prey in minutes or groom the big catch for months to gain that victim’s ultimate trust via emails, social media, dating apps, forums, and the like. It might be an irresistible offer or a seductive video. Convincing words of a trusted individual, or just plain celebrity or political gossip. We’re all human.

One-click and BAM! They’ve slipped a virus into your computer and consequently your network. Crazy malware that can and will dig in deep and go for the big bucks.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT fall for links to free software, adult content (you know what I mean), illegal downloads or screaming deals.

When it comes to authentication codes for banking– NO LESS than 2-factor authentication. But even those can fail. Yep, there are android mobile versions of malware that can even capture some banks’ 2-factor authentication passcodes from your phone.

Bottom line. Don’t be a Social CyberCon Tool!

5.  PHISHING ATTACKS

From little phiddies to giant whales, these attacks come in all shapes and sizes! And if you’ve got access to sensitive data, someone would love for you to take the bait.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

PHORGERIES
Emails that are made to look like they’re from a trusted source or sender. An email could look like a delivery notice for FedEx, a password expiring on your Netflix account, or a storage quota alert. I would hope that you know what I mean.

Do not take the bait! Look for misspellings in the sender’s address as well as in the body of the email. Funky, not quite right graphics are also a dead giveaway.

SPEAR PHISHING
Highly targeted waters. They’re not just casting a big net; those cyber culprits are setting a trap for someone special. Maybe you! They’re apt to bait the hook referencing a conference you’ve attended or a topic they know you’re interested in. Remember, your online presence gives predators a lot of food for fodder.

WHALING ATTACKS
Netting the Big Kahunas– CFOs, CEOs, COOs, CMOs, Government Officials, and the like. These attacks take time, research (AKA stalking) to take down a big one. They want to know who their target trusts, to whom they talk to, what they talk about, where they’ve been, everything they need to know to go after invaluable data (the keys to any kingdom) and MAJOR bucks.  When these high-class, cyber-bottom feeders have enough to go in for the kill, they’ll genially craft the ultimate bait to reel in the grand mark hook, line, and sinker.

This little less only touched 5 of the limitless cyber threats out there. Believe me, the list goes on and on.

ROCK BOTTOM LINE?
Cyber-Insecurity is real. The odds that you’ll suffer are increasing by the nanosecond. You can choose to just take your chances, switch up your passwords every so often,  or really put yourself at ease and talk to a professional at Intivix. Definitely the experts in the daunting world of ever-changing technology.

If you choose the roll the dice, don’t say I didn’t warn ya!