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4 common cyber threats: Keeping yourself safe from online threats

Jon Berry, Head of IT at Astute, emphasises the importance of equipping staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to recognise and combat cyber threats effectively in his blog “4 common cyber threats”.

Cybersecurity remains a pressing concern for businesses across the UK, as the landscape of digital threats continues to evolve.

The advent of remote work arrangements, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has further heightened vulnerabilities, making it imperative for organisations to bolster their defences against cyber-attacks.

A notable incident in 2021 underscored the severity of the issue when the UK-based umbrella firm and payroll provider Giant Umbrella experienced a significant data breach, resulting in payment delays across multiple employment sectors.

This breach serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle against cyber threats and the need for proactive measures to safeguard sensitive information.

Training plays a pivotal role in enhancing cybersecurity awareness among employees, empowering them to identify potential risks and take appropriate action before an attack occurs.

Astute has implemented a comprehensive cyber security training program for all staff members, comprising training modules and simulated phishing attacks.

By arming employees with up-to-date knowledge and fostering a culture of vigilance, organisations can mitigate the likelihood of falling victim to cyber-attacks.

Jon identifies 4 common cyber threats and offers insights into how businesses can combat them effectively:

  1. Phishing
    Phishing attacks involve the fraudulent practice of sending emails disguised as reputable entities to deceive individuals into divulging personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers.
    To mitigate this threat, individuals should exercise caution and scrutinise suspicious emails for signs of fraudulence.
    Key indicators include unexpected urgency, spelling errors, and discrepancies in email addresses.
    Verifying the authenticity of emails before responding or clicking on links can help prevent falling prey to phishing scams.
  2. Vishing
    Vishing, a variant of phishing, entails fraudulent phone calls or voicemails impersonating legitimate organisations to extract sensitive information from individuals.
    Unlike phishing emails, vishing calls can be more challenging to detect.
    To mitigate this threat, individuals should exercise caution when receiving unsolicited calls requesting personal information.
    Verifying the caller’s identity by contacting the relevant organisation directly can help confirm the legitimacy of the request and prevent falling victim to vishing scams.
  3. Smishing
    Another one of the 4 common cyber threats is Smishing, similar to vishing, involves fraudulent text messages sent to individuals with the aim of eliciting personal information or directing them to malicious websites.
    Individuals should remain vigilant when receiving unexpected text messages, especially those purporting to be from financial institutions or service providers.
    Suspicious messages should be scrutinized for inconsistencies, such as unfamiliar phone numbers or misspellings, and reported to the relevant authorities to prevent potential fraud.
  4. Pharming
    Pharming attacks involve redirecting internet users to counterfeit websites designed to mimic legitimate ones, with the intention of stealing personal information.
    To mitigate this threat, individuals should verify website addresses for authenticity and ensure that they are accessing legitimate sites.
    Keeping software and antivirus programs updated can also help safeguard against pharming attacks by detecting and blocking malicious websites.

In addition to these 4 common cyber threats, businesses should remain vigilant against malicious software or malware, including viruses, spyware, ransomware, worms, and Trojans.

Continuous training, coupled with the use of robust cybersecurity measures and up-to-date software, is essential for protecting sensitive information and safeguarding against evolving cyber threats.

As businesses strive to navigate the complex landscape of cybersecurity, proactive measures such as employee training, robust security protocols, and ongoing vigilance are paramount.

By fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness and investing in proactive defence strategies, organisations can mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks and safeguard their assets against emerging threats.

About the author

Joining Astute in 2019, Jon is a staple member of our business.

Jon’s vast knowledge of IT within the recruitment sector has enabled the business to grow from strength to strength, creating a streamlined, efficient and cyber safe company which everyone is able to benefit from.

If you enjoyed Jon’s blog “4 common cyber threats” you can connect with him on LinkedIn.