4 Common Cybersecurity Attacks Everyone Should Know and Avoid

4 Common Cybersecurity Attacks Everyone Should Know and Avoid


It is essential to start by emphasizing that cybersecurity attacks include attacks on phones, computers, laptops, tablets, watches, and all other electronic devices that connect to the internet to function. Users should understand that in today’s world, where everything is connected to the internet because technology has become a mainstay in all our activities, understanding basic notions of cybersecurity is necessary.

 This clarification is necessary because people often associate cybersecurity, cyber threats and hacking with big companies. Most often, people would think they are too small, insignificant or poor to be a target of cyber criminals like hackers. This perception is wrong because a mobile contains emails, contacts, bank accounts, mobile money accounts and personal data. Also, hackers can use one person’s vulnerabilities to reach others. 

Therefore, everyone must become conscious and aware of their cyber environments. This blogpost addresses the widespread cybersecurity threats and attacks that ordinary citizens must be mindful of because they happen daily. In the previous blog post, I shared tips on password management and protection. In this post, I will share tips on avoiding common cybersecurity attacks. Businesses should also note these tips are relevant in protecting their businesses from common cybersecurity attacks.

Phishing Attacks: Don’t Take the Bait

Phishing attacks are the most common, widespread, and deceptive cyber threats that most people face. They usually come in emails, text messages and social media posts. Hackers and scammers design these messages to appear legitimate, honest and promise a benefit. They use these promises to entice a user’s appetite to follow a shared link. 

Phishing attacks generally contain a link to a website or attachments to download. It is essential to carefully review a sender’s email, especially when you need to take a second step, like going to another website or downloading an attachment. These links or attachments generally contain viruses or other forms of malicious stuff that can poison your device or steal the information contained in it. 

Emails like the one below should strike you and remember they mostly come with links directing you to a different website. Luckily google flags suspicious emails. 

If you suspect a link is poisonous, test it in Virus Total. According to Microsoft, “Virus Total is an online service that analyzes suspicious files and [websites] to detect types of malware and malicious content using antivirus engines and website scanners.” Virus Scanner has proven to be successful in preventing people from falling for common cybersecurity attacks.

Recently, I received the message below on a Whatsapp Group and ran the website in Virus total. See the results:

Ransomware: Your Data Held Hostage

In ransomware cybersecurity attacks, the attacks use malicious software like viruses to block your device or your files in the device until you pay a ransom. This process, known as encryption, prevents the owner of the device from accessing files while the hacker has complete control over the electronic device. Like phishing, ransomware cybersecurity attacks occur through opening infected attachments or websites. 

According to Trend Micro, a cybersecurity company specialized in resolving famous cybersecurity attacks, a ransomware attack can takeover “a full-screen image or notification is displayed on an infected system’s screen, which prevents a victim from using their system. This notification also details instructions on how a user can pay the ransom.” 

Users must remain vigilant because these common cybersecurity attacks often come through infected emails, files, text messages, and compromised websites. Trend Micro advises that users should:

  • Avoid opening unverified emails or clicking links embedded in them.
  • Back up essential files in external devices like memory cards, external drives, flash drives, or in the cloud like google drive, dropbox etc.
  • Regularly update software, programs, and applications to protect them from the latest vulnerabilities.
  • Create a security culture and learn more about ransomware’s most common cybersecurity attack vectors.

Most importantly, avoid clicking emails, attachments, websites, and adverts like the one shown in the image below. 

Regularly backup your important data and keep your software updated to minimize the impact of a potential attack. Vigilance in avoiding suspicious email attachments and links is crucial.

Develop the habit of using an antivirus and other malware protections. There are many of them with free versions that can keep you safe. 

When I tried opening the same link mentioned above directly on my phone, my antivirus software gave the following recommendation: 

This list follows no specific order and is for your information only, not recommendations. 

According to Webroot, “Modern antivirus solutions are capable of: Detecting, blocking, and removing viruses, malware, and ransomware. Preventing identity theft and block phishing and fraud. Warning about dangerous websites and links before you click.”

It is important to note that the antiviruses listed above both contain free and paid versions. While the paid version contains more features and protects devices and networks better, Wired advises that the free versions will mostly:

  • Detect and remove malware: Any free antivirus app worth using will detect and remove viruses and other malware, keeping you safe from hackers’ favorite tools. Mobile security apps will do the same, removing malware from your iPhone or Android.
  • Prevent new malware: Malware prevention is the other core feature of a reliable antivirus tool, and most will monitor your computer in real-time to block new infections.
  • Help you shop and bank safely: Phishing and its large-scale cousin, pharming, use fake emails and websites to fool you into disclosing sensitive personal information. A strong free security app will feature built-in web shields.
  • Monitor your home network: Some free security apps can detect unrecognized devices on your Wi-Fi network, alerting you to a possible intruder and blocking hackers.
  • Protect important files: Ransomware is arguably today’s leading malware threat. A robust antivirus app prevents ransomware from encrypting important files and photos.

About the paid versions, Wired says they will:

A good premium antivirus tool should:

  • Block webcam hacks: Almost all laptops come equipped with webcams, and if a hacker gets control of yours, they’ll have a window into your personal life. You can detect and block webcam hacking attempts with strong paid antivirus software.
  • Prevent hackers from controlling your computer: Alongside ransomware, remote access attacks are one of today’s most pressing threats. Hackers can create a “backdoor” that lets them control your computer—but a premium antivirus app will keep them locked out.
  • Safely use suspicious apps: Trying out a new app? Many premium tools let you securely run apps in a “sandbox” where they can’t affect the rest of your device.
  • Permanently delete sensitive files: When you toss a file in the Recycle Bin, it’s not really deleted. But some paid antivirus tools will permanently “shred” files so that they can’t ever be found, even by specialized software. If you ever sell or toss your computer, this can ensure your personal data stays safe.
  • Automatically update apps: Outdated apps may contain security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. When a premium security tool automatically updates your other software, you’re guaranteed to always have the most current versions.

While the decision to use a free or paid version depends on the user, I strongly advise buying the paid version. However, if a user cannot afford the paid version, I recommend using the free version and regularly updating it to have the most updated and effective protections. 

Social Engineering Exploits Human Trust

Social engineering is one of the most common cybersecurity attacks that works because it exploits human weakness and trust. This involves impersonating people we know and trust or companies we regularly pay bills to. These hackers and scammers will call on the phone, send an email, text message, or make social media contact or post. Their objective is to extract some very sensitive or vital information or gain access to your financial reserves. 

Internet users must always verify requests and cross-check with contacts before releasing information. When you receive a communication urgently requiring information from you or claiming to be someone, stop that information, and use the person’s best contact you have. This may help you verify the exact identity of the person requesting information. 

 Always verify requests for sensitive information through separate communication channels before sharing any details.

Public and Free Wi-Fi Constitutes Threats

While accessing free Wi-Fi may be good, especially when we cannot afford fast and sustained internet connections, we must know that free Wi-Fi constitutes one of the most common network security vulnerabilities. Internet hackers exploit free Wi-Fi to hack into connected devices and commit any of the above-named common cybersecurity attacks. 

Everyone connected to public Wi-Fi uses the same password. This makes it easy for hackers to spread whatever malware they want to spread through a network they are connected to. Scammers can also set their hotspots impersonating the user name of the public Wi-Fi, and users can fall prey to their networks. 

The best advice is to avoid using public Wi-Fi, but if you must use it, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection. Kaspersky states, “A VPN connection disguises your data traffic online and protects it from external access. Unencrypted data can be viewed by anyone who has network access and wants to see it. With a VPN, hackers and cyber criminals can’t decipher this data. Secure encryption: To read the data, you need an encryption key.”

 I hope readers will practice the cyber hygiene practices this blog shares to avoid falling prey to scammers and hackers. One method is effectively managing and protecting passwords as discussed in a previous article on this page. 

I would like to read your feedback about your experiences. Kindly consider joining my newsletter to receive more information of this nature. 

Do you have an experience to share? Kindly leave it below. 

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