Common Cybersecurity Threats at Work and at Home

Common Cybersecurity Threats at Work and at Home

Whether you’re at home, at work, or working at home, cybersecurity threats are always looming. Cyber attackers are looking for the best way to intrude on you and your personal information. That could be anything from phishing emails, malware, or social engineering attacks. Stay secure in a world that is ripe for cyber criminals to pick can be challenging. Learn about some of the most common cyber threats that could find you no matter is you’re using devices for work or for pleasure.

Phishing Attacks

Every email will inevitably include spam emails. In your personal email, they may appear as confirmation of a delivery for a package you never ordered. Or they can appear as too-good-to-be-true deals from your most trafficked shopping websites. If your friends’ emails have been compromised, you can even receive emails that look like genuine inquiries from someone you speak to regularly.

With your work email, phishing emails can look like information from your IT department or links from coworkers. Many cyber hackers even find ways to imitate your workplace’s email domain so that you are more susceptible to falling for their tricks.

In either case, you should never click on links you do not recognize or interact with emails you do not know. Be weary of any email that asks for your personal information or private data. Utilize email filtering systems built into your email platform to keep these emails at bay. Report any spam you receive to strengthen that filtering system. Make sure when you’re working that you follow all phishing training and follow protocols that are established to keep your information safe.

Malware Infections

Sadly, viruses and infections are not just for the human body. Cyber criminals will use malware to access your information – personal or work related. Much of these are entered into your computer through the aforementioned phishing emails. The links in those emails can lead to the download of trojan software, which is made to mimic actual software, or viruses, worms, or ransomware. All of these can disrupt your systems and access either your personal information or your company’s private data.

In your personal computers, you should always have a verified anti-virus software installed to eliminate your chances of becoming attacked. In your work computer systems, your company should already have anti-virus installed on all devices. Your IT department should also conduct regular scans and stay on top of cyber threats.

Social Engineering

Social Engineering is one of the most common types of ways cyber criminals will try to reach your personal information. Common in phishing emails, social engineering works to attack the victim on a personal level to let their guard down. Scareware is a common one – simply trying to scare someone into downloading software that either has no benefit or malware. Pretexting is where the cyber criminal will impersonate bank officials, police, or people close to you to gain your personal information like your social security number.

The best way to avoid these are to not interact with phone numbers or emails you do not know. Do not trust any links you don’t recognize, or that unknown senders send to you. Do not share your personal information online – even if it’s as simple as filling out a trend or social questionnaire to your friends on Facebook.  Your workplace should give you training to avoid these threats, put restrictions on the types of content you can consume within the workplace, and have policies that protect your private information as well as the company’s.

Password Attacks

Something that should be well-known to every internet user is the uniqueness of your passwords. If you use common passwords or passcodes, hackers will use that vulnerability to access all of your private information. The most common password attacks are:

  • Brute Force – to guess the password by trying all of the different possibilities within the given set of characters.
  • Dictionary Attacks – to guess the password by trying commonly used passwords, like words found in the dictionary.
  • Credential Stuffing – to guess the password by using one password found in a data breach on another application.

The best way to prevent these attacks is to create a unique password for every application. Never use the same password twice. Always use both lower- and upper-case letters, symbols, and numbers to make it harder for cyber criminals to crack. Regularly update your passwords. Use multi-factor authentication in both your home and work life to ensure your accounts are even more secure against cyber threats.

The University of Fairfax has been a leader of cybersecurity education for those students looking to earn a graduate or terminal degree in the field. You can learn from career-experienced professionals to become a leader in cybersecurity. Learn more about cyber threats and how to mitigate them from two Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) blogs on our website – “Concerned About Cyber?” and “Cybersecurity in the Workplace.” To learn more about what cybersecurity programs we offer to professionals looking to move up in their career, go to

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