6 Ways Hackers Gain Access to Sensitive Data
Data security is one of the most important responsibilities of any business owner. Whether you are a mom-and-pop business down the street or a Fortune 500-level corporation, focusing on data security is essential. Protecting your company from not only data loss but also from the financial and legal implications that can come because of an attack is critical for long-term success. Most people think of science fiction movies with hackers gaining access by breaking into server farms, but the reality is a little less sexy and a little more subtle.
It’s important to understand how hackers can get in so that you as a business owner can create a better plan to protect your sensitive data. Here are six ways hackers can gain access to your systems.
Using the Same Passwords
If you use the same password on all accounts, and a hacker finds that password, they can access all your accounts. The first thing to avoid is using the same password on all sites—this includes email and social media. If someone gets into one account, it’s easy for them to try the same username and password combination on other websites that you use.
Hackers Crack Easy Passwords
Never reuse old passwords or choose something easy for hackers to guess like “123456789,” “qwerty” or “password.” Never save your passwords in any way that isn’t encrypted with two-factor authentication. Even if you do end up choosing an easy-to-guess password, a hacker won’t know how to access it because they don’t have the key needed to decrypt it.
Hackers go Phishing
When hackers want to leverage lateral movement through your computer systems, they will often employ a phishing tactic. Phishing is a type of social engineering, where hackers send emails from fake addresses that look like a trusted contact or service and ask for information. These phishing emails often look like they are from a trusted source, such as your bank or a company you have done business with before. They may even create dummy websites that spoof the original to trick unsuspecting users into putting their passwords and other sensitive information on them. Once the hacker has one password, they can deploy other malware to gain more access to the information they want the most.
They Look for Holes in Software
Hackers take advantage of unpatched software by introducing malware that can gain access to sensitive data. Malware is a type of software that runs on your computer in order to take control of the system and perform tasks without your knowledge. It can be installed in a variety of ways, but most often via email attachments or applications downloaded from the Internet. Malware affects both individuals and organizations, although it’s more common among consumers than businesses.
The malware allows hackers to gain access to sensitive data by controlling your device remotely, allowing them to steal passwords, intercept messages or spread viruses without you knowing it’s happening.
Sophisticated Hackers Use Brute Force
A brute force attack is when a hacker uses an automated tool to guess multiple passwords at a time until they find one that works.The hacker can use this method because many people choose easy-to-remember passwords, like their name or birthday. Hackers also know that people tend to use the same password for multiple accounts, so if you have any security questions set up on your account the hacker could access other information by guessing those answers too. That’s why it’s so important to be careful about the kinds of information you share online, especially on social media.
Hackers Impersonate Officials
In a social engineering attack, hackers impersonate someone in authority to get sensitive information or access to IT systems. They may call the victim’s work phone and tell the receptionist that they need to speak with “Bob.” The receptionist gives out Bob’s cell number because she assumes it must be urgent if he’s being called at work by his first name.
Another type of social engineering attack involves emailing an employee who has access to sensitive data, posing as someone from IT support. The email asks for the employee’s username and password so that IT can fix a problem with their computer, but when they enter them into what appears to be a legitimate login page, it actually logs them into a fake website where their credentials are stolen by hackers.
Keeping your company safe from data loss and hackers means understanding how hackers operate. When you know what to look for, you can educate your staff, create security protocols, and ensure you leverage the right tools to keep your systems safe.