Although everyday life is becoming noticeably more digitalized, cybersecurity is still not being given the attention it needs. As a result, the likelihood of falling victim to a targeted attack on the Internet is increasing year on year. Accord...
Although everyday life is becoming noticeably more digitalized, cybersecurity is still not being given the attention it needs. As a result, the likelihood of falling victim to a targeted attack on the Internet is increasing year on year. According to the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the number of offenses reported in Germany rose by nearly eight percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.
That figure also reflects the trend being observed internationally: PCs, smartphones, digital infrastructures, and company software are being increasingly targeted by criminals. The perpetrators are getting more and more professional. At the same time, the cybersecurity of private individuals and companies is often not completely watertight.
Internet security: cybercrime in the narrow and broad sense of the word
Cybercrime can be separated into two subdomains from a criminal law perspective. Narrowly speaking, cybercrime refers to offenses that are exclusively committed digitally and within digital structures. These are aimed at the Internet or other data networks, IT systems, or their data – for example DDoS attacks, hacking, and data manipulation/destruction.
Offenses that also happen in the analog world, but are committed digitally, are regarded as web crime in a broader sense. They include crimes such as drug trafficking, intimidation, and fraud.
Cybersecurity offers protection against the most common attacks on the Internet
Besides cybercrime, there are two more phenomena that need to be protected against: cyberattacks and cyberterrorism. Both are characterized by the fact that they are usually politically motivated. Nonetheless, the methods applied are similar. The potential victims of cyberattacks are states, banks, associations, and companies, but private individuals may also be targeted. The issue of cybersecurity is without a doubt relevant to the whole of society.
Cybersecurity as protection against malware
One of the most common ways to gain unauthorized access to the IT systems, PCs, or smartphones of others is through the use of malicious software, or “malware” for short. This software is inadvertently downloaded and automatically installed from emails, SMS messages, or other channels. Cybersecurity offers protection against a vast array of malware attacks:
Computer viruses are probably the most well-known form of malware and often wreak devastating damage on affected systems.
Secretly installed spyware provides attackers with data on the victims’ activities. For example, it allows them to spy on passwords and other sensitive data.
Trojans disguise themselves as trustworthy programs, meaning that victims often intentionally install them.
Botnets are networks of computers that infect or attack other PCs, usually without the knowledge of their owners, thus giving them the power to sabotage entire websites.
Ransomware blocks the data of infected systems. Such attacks are often a means of extortion, with attackers demanding a ransom payment to decrypt the data. However, that usually doesn’t happen, even if the ransom is paid.
Advertisements that are intentionally or unintentionally also used to distribute malware are known as adware.
Phishing as a form of web crime
Phishing is now a very widespread form of cybercrime. In this case, victims are asked to disclose certain data on falsified websites or in fake emails. This is usually a way for perpetrators to fraudulently obtain passwords or credit card numbers.
SQL injection: attacks on databases
SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is a code to communicate with databases. These injected SQL commands make it possible to access encrypted databases, for example. They can then be modified, copied, or destroyed.
Web crime via “man-in-the-middle attacks”
With this type of hacking, attackers often tap open, unsecured Wi-Fi networks. They position themselves between the user’s system and the Internet resource being used. Once the victim has connected to the Wi-Fi, the person in the middle can perform further actions undetected. MITM attacks are frequently targeted at companies by secretly infiltrating their networks.
Effective cybersecurity: how can you protect yourself against attacks on the Internet?
#1 Generally, it’s important to keep your software and operating system up to date. Regular updates promptly fix security vulnerabilities and make it harder for criminals to attack.
#2 Dedicated software programs ensure reliable end-to-end cybersecurity and provide protection against a wide range of attacks, including viruses, malware, ransomware, and adware.
#3 Never click on files attached in emails from unknown senders. The same applies to links in such emails. By not clicking on them, you will prevent your computer, smartphone, or other end device from being infected with malware via one of the most common gateways.
#4 Avoid public and unsecured Wi-Fi networks so that you don’t expose yourself to MITM attacks.
#5 Create secure passwords: attackers often have it far too easy because their potential victims are completely unaware of how easy their passwords are to crack in some cases. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) can additionally prevent your communication from being tapped.
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