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How To Avoid The Most Common Online Threats

In 2016, two-thirds of large businesses based in the UK were hit by a cyber breach or attack. Unfortunately, this figure is only rising with more and more cybercriminals turning their attention towards corporations.

Written by Courtney Farrow

June 2018

Don't get caught out by these common online threats.

As June is #ScamAwarenessMonth, we thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the most common online threats that both individuals and businesses face.

Hotspot imposters.

How could this affect me?

If you – or your members of staff – regularly work away from the office, whilst on your morning commute or in local coffee shops, you could be caught out by fraudulent or intercepted public WiFi.

How does this scam work?

Whilst public WiFi is super handy for working on-the-go, hotspots can be a hotbed for cybercrime. Some criminals set up fake networks and – when you unwittingly connect to it – they steal all sorts of sensitive data.

Meanwhile, public connections are rarely private or fortified with quality security features, so even if you are logging into a legitimate source, hackers can easily intercept your data.

How can I protect myself?

Avoid being stung by staying savvy and questioning everything. Ask the employees of cafe or station to confirm you’ve got the right network. In the meantime, consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN); this nifty technology scrambles the traffic between your device and the VPN server, protecting your work session from prying eyes.

A simple way to steer clear of hotspot imposters is to not public WiFi altogether or at least never log into critical accounts, such as your bank or social media channels.

We actually wrote a whole blog post on the dangers of public WiFi here.

Phishing scams.

How could this affect me?

As emails are an everyday necessity for modern businesses, phishing attempts have become an increasingly prevalent problem for organisations and their staff members.

How does this scam work?

Phishing is the practice of sending a fraudulent email from what appears to be a legitimate source. Posing as suppliers, banks and Government departments (HMRC), criminals usually ask the recipient to urgently reveal personal information, such as passwords, bank account numbers and credit card details.

How can I protect myself?

It’s impossible to completely protect yourself from a phishing scam. Mistakes happen. However, we’d recommend that you train your team on how to spot these pesky – yet costly – scam emails. Tackling phishing is mainly down to using common sense and being cautious of what you click and share.

There are also a few other measures you can put in place to help shield yourself from these threats, such as investing in high-quality antivirus and firewalls.

Find out more about how businesses can guard themselves against phishing here.

Ransomware.

How could this affect me?

Businesses and organisations store a lot of data, whether this is details about clients, suppliers or customers. And cybercriminals know this all too well. Ransomware is rapidly becoming a serious issue for companies of all sizes, so if you’ve not got a system or process in place, it’s wise to start thinking about one.

How does this scam work?

Ransomware is a piece of software that can be downloaded or installed onto a device, encrypting and ‘stealing’ the data. The user is then asked to pay a sum of money – a ransom – in exchange for the return of the information.

Not only is losing the money detrimental to companies but from 2018, UK businesses are also liable to pay a fine of up to €20 million (or 4% of their annual turnover) if they suffer a data breach. You must also inform any individual whose data has been compromised.

How can I protect myself?

Again, educating yourself and your employees is a great first step.

On top of this, you should be making use of a robust antivirus software, which should have safeguards against ransomware. Another key detail people often overlook is to keep your software and technology up to date. Good brands of antivirus refresh their virus definitions as new threats are continuously emerging.

As ransomware usually revolves around blackmailing you for access to your data, ensure you have a strong backup and disaster recovery system in place.


We know that there’s a lot to take in when it comes to online threats, so if you do need to talk with a member of our team, please don’t hesitate to give us a buzz.

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