Software is an integral part of private and commercial life; There is no way around it. You need software to do your taxes, book a flight or browse the internet. Software has made our lives much easier in so many ways. However, as we become more reliant on software we also become more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
This article will explore 15 different ways that software can end up becoming a cybersecurity threat. By understanding these risks, you can take steps to protect yourself and your business.
Lack of Security Features
Many popular software programs either lack basic security features or the features that are present lose functionality, leaving users vulnerable to attack. For example, Adobe Reader and Microsoft Word have both been found to have security vulnerabilities. If you use these programs, make sure you keep them up to date with the latest security patches.
If you are worried about having to deal with downtime while installing new software updates, you can always schedule them for a time when you know you won’t be using your computer. This way, you can be sure that your software is always up-to-date and secure.
Poor Password Security
One of the most common ways users’ accounts get hacked is through the use of weak or easily guessed passwords. If you use a program that requires a password, make sure to use a strong one that would be difficult for someone to guess.
Additionally, if you use the same password for multiple accounts, an attacker only needs to figure out that one password to gain access to all of your accounts. This is why it’s important to use different passwords for different services. If you can’t remember all of your different passwords, you can use a password manager to help you keep track of them.
Consider using both a password manager—to take advantage of the more robust security these applications typically have—as well as a password randomizer, which will generate long, random passwords for you. Many password managers include a randomizer feature.
Phishing attacks can impact any type of software program. In a phishing attack, an attacker will try to trick you into giving them your password or other sensitive information by masquerading as a legitimate website or program. Be very careful about any emails or messages you receive that ask for personal information, and never click on links in these messages unless you’re absolutely sure they’re legitimate.
Phishing that takes place through software programs can also happen through messaging programs, like Skype or Facebook Messenger, or through email programs, like Gmail. Be sure to be keen about any links or attachments you receive through these programmes, as well.
Keyloggers are malicious programs that are installed on your computer without your knowledge. Once they’re installed, they can track every keystroke you make, which means they can easily steal passwords and other sensitive information. Keyloggers can be installed through email attachments, malicious websites or even infected USB drives.
To protect yourself from keyloggers, never install software from untrustworthy sources. Be very careful about what emails you open and what websites you visit. If you do get a keylogger on your computer, make sure to run a malware scan as soon as possible to remove it.
Drive-by downloads are another type of malicious software that can be installed on your computer without your knowledge. These types of programs are usually downloaded when you visit a malicious website or click on a malicious link. Once they’re installed, they can do things like steal your passwords or track your web browsing.
To protect yourself from drive-by downloads, be careful about what websites you visit and what links you click on. If you think you may have downloaded a malicious program, run a malware scan as soon as possible.
Malware is malicious software that can infect your computer without you even knowing about it and, once it’s there, it can do things like steal your passwords or data or give an attacker remote access to your machine. From there, attackers can potentially access your organization’s IT infrastructure. Be very careful about what email attachments you open and what websites you visit, as these are two of the most common ways malware can end up on your computer.
The software you use can also be used to introduce ransomware into your system. A malicious actor could create a fake version of a popular software program and distribute it online. When users download and install the fake software, they unknowingly grant the attacker access to their system. Or, an attacker could exploit vulnerabilities in software programs to gain access to a user’s system. Once inside, the attacker could install ransomware and encrypt the user’s files.
Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
If you use public Wi-Fi networks to connect to the internet, you may be putting yourself and your organization at risk. These networks are often unsecured, which means that anyone else on the network can snoop on your traffic and see what you’re doing. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, make sure to connect to a secure VPN first so that your traffic is encrypted and private.
Social engineering is a type of attack where an attacker tries to trick you into doing something that will give them access to your account or data. For example, they may pretend to be a customer support agent for a program you use and ask you for your password so they can “fix” an issue with your account.
Or, they may send you an email that looks like it’s from a trusted source but actually contains a malicious link. Be very careful about any communications you receive, even if they appear to be from a legitimate source.
Unsafe Browser Extensions
If you use a web browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, you may have installed some extensions to add additional features or functionality. But some of these extensions can actually introduce security risks. For example, an extension might have access to all of the websites you visit and the data you enter into them. Be very selective about which extensions you install, and only install ones from trusted sources.
If you have a WordPress website, be careful about which plugins you install. Some plugins can introduce security risks, for example, by giving attackers access to your website or database. Install only trusted plugins, and make sure to keep them up-to-date. Also, while browsing new plugins, it is important that you ensure you are downloading and installing plugins that are regularly updated. Take a look at the last time the software was updated before deciding to install it.
Adware is a type of software that displays advertising on your computer, often in the form of pop-up ads. While not all adware is malicious, some forms of it can track your online activities and even collect sensitive information like your passwords or credit card numbers. Be careful about what programs you install, and always read the EULA before agreeing to anything.
Google Docs is a popular cloud-based word processing application that is part of Google Workspace. While it’s generally safe to use, there have been some reports of malicious actors using it to spread malware or launch phishing attacks. If you use Google Docs, be sure to only open documents from trusted sources and never click on any links in a document unless you’re absolutely sure they’re safe.
Third-Party App Stores
If you use an Android device, you may be tempted to download apps from a third-party app store instead of the official Google Play store. While there are some legitimate app stores out there, many of them are full of malware and other malicious programs. It’s always best to stick to the official app store for your device to avoid these risks.
One of the most important things you can do to keep your computer safe is to make sure all of your software is updated to the latest version. Software developers regularly release updates that patch security vulnerabilities, so it’s important to install these updates as soon as they’re available. You can typically set your software to update automatically or you can check for updates manually on a regular basis.
Commanding For Loops
Commanding for loops is a type of attack where an attacker takes control of your computer by sending malicious commands through the command-line interface. This can happen if you accidentally download and run a malicious program or if you visit a website that has been compromised by an attacker. To protect yourself from this type of attack, be careful about the programs you download and run and only visit websites that you trust.
Software, in its myriad forms, is crucial to running both our businesses and enhancing our personal lives. There is almost no way to avoid using several, if not dozens, of different programs on a daily basis. But as we’ve seen, even the most innocuous-seeming software can pose a serious security risk if it’s not used properly. But understanding the attack vectors ahead of time can help protect yourself and your organization from these risks and keep your data safe.