Column: Protect yourself against cyber intrusions


Commentary by Swan Security Team

Today, cybersecurity is more important than ever.

Cybersecurity criminals are increasingly active, and the risk of your business being compromised by a malicious attack is quite high. Bad actors will typically gain access to your network using a few basic techniques. Let’s look at the most common security attacks happening and how companies can minimize the risk of being hacked.


Phishing attacks can vary, but they almost always involve one’s email inbox.

These phishing emails contain malicious attachments or links that typically trigger the download of a script that assists hackers in gaining access to your environment. It can cause security breaches in your network, which can be easily exploited by malicious actors when they use it to steal valuable information such as employee’s personal information, customer’s information, credit card information, etc.

What is the best way to prevent a phishing attack?

Do not download attachments or follow links from someone you don’t know or from whom you aren’t expecting anything. Typically, malicious actors send these kinds of phishing emails to many people within the organization, so if your colleagues received similar emails, there is a good chance that it is a phishing attack.

Stolen credentials

Many applications and services require authentication through the submission of a pair of credentials. The most common form is an email address and password.

How can one avoid having their credentials stolen?

One important way to protect one’s credentials is to never use your work credentials or work email to log in to any nonwork-related services. Also, try not to use similar or exact passwords elsewhere. Credentials on different services, especially untrustworthy ones, can be easily stolen. This can compromise your business as well if you use the same or similar credentials.

Using multi-factor authentication for your login can help avoid this form of cyberattack. Many great services can help a company implement multi-factor authentication such as requiring approval from smartphones as a second factor in authentication.

Website spoofing

Website Spoofing is the act of creating a fake website or URL address that strongly resembles a real website. This fake website can be used to capture financial information, steal credentials, or simply infect your computer with malware. Fake websites are especially dangerous because scammers excel at making their fake websites look exactly like the websites you trust and visit every day.

Malicious actors often will trick victims to visit their spoofed website in one of two ways. First, they might send links with errors that are very similar to the URL of the trusted site, but with slight differences, such as an extra letter or a letter replaced by another letter or symbol – e.g., versus The second method is to hyperlink words in spam emails to hide fake URLs. If one isn’t careful, clicking on these hyperlinks will take one to a fake site. If one doesn’t look closely at these URLs, he or she might miss one of these characters and just assume that the web address given is the same as the one a trusted company or organization actually uses for their website.

How can one protect oneself from web spoofing?

Learn to recognize fake URLs and avoid clicking on them. If a link is displayed, hover your mouse over it to see the web address so you know where the link leads. Don’t just click on the link. When you view a web address, make sure it has “HTTPS” at the beginning. A URL with “HTTP” is still suspect. You should also look for incorrect or strange characters in the URL.

Phone calls

Scammers sometimes use phone calls to perpetrate their attacks. A user may get a phone call from someone claiming to be a security or IT engineer within the organization. The scammer will then ask the user to download software that will allow them to fix malware detected on the user’s computer. This is known as a social engineering attack.

How can one avoid a social engineering attack?

One step is to introduce the person(s) responsible for cybersecurity to the team. In addition, a team should be notified when security work will occur. If an employee receives a phone call from someone other than known security engineers within the organization for security or IT purposes, they will know that the bad actor is lying and hang up.

By the way, if security engineers need to install software on your device, they usually have ways to do that themselves.

An additional recommendation is to use a VPN connection for the work environment. VPN stands for “virtual private network” — a service that helps you secure your work on the internet. A VPN establishes a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and the internet through a virtual network. It is a great way to stay isolated and make sure that your work is secure and that it is going to be a lot more difficult for a hacker to steal data.

Although VPNs are a good option, users must also remember that using a work VPN connection for other purposes can make your organization’s services vulnerable to security threats. The work VPN connection should never be used for nonwork-related purposes.

One final trick that malicious actors will always use is to add some type of urgency to their requests. Their goal is to try and make you act quickly and without thinking. So, please, stay calm and coolheaded. Think twice. Stay safe.

We hope that this information can help you and your organization be more secure! If you are considering outsourcing your cybersecurity or would like to understand more how that works, Swan Software Solutions in Carmel can help.