3 common causes of cyber attacks that show we’re making things too easy for today’s cyber criminals

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We are CybSafe. We’re a British cyber security and data analytics company.

March 2, 2017

While causes of cyber attacks vary, some are remarkably widespread. These 3 causes show how easy some criminals have it.

Do you lock your front door when leaving the house unattended?

There are criminals out there hoping you don’t. These people make a living out of lax security measures.

They study their targets. They learn their routines. They break into houses without the use of force.

Such people are the reason ordinary people lock their front doors when leaving their homes.

So let’s talk about what happens when those same ordinary people boot up a laptop.

Causes of cyber attacks

You already know what we’re getting at here.

In the physical world, we take steps to protect ourselves from becoming the victims of crime. But it seems that in the digital world, even the most basic of precautions seems to fly out the window – which is what causes cyber attacks.

Thanks to lax online security, causes of cyber attacks include things like:

  • Social media channels publicising personal details… which can allow cyber criminals to steal identities.
  • Unsecured wifi networks allow criminals to intercept confidential log-in details from connected computers. Unsecured wifi remains one of the most prominent causes of cyber attacks.
  • Insecure passwords. In 2017, “123456” was the most common password in use. While insecure passwords themselves may not necessarily cause cyber attacks, they certainly don’t help to prevent them.

If the above causes of cyber attacks show us anything, it’s that people still aren’t doing enough to protect themselves online.

Cyber crime is creeping up and the criminals are becoming more intelligent. So why is it we see the same causes of cyber attacks over and over again?

Terrorists or swimming pools. Which one scares you more?

To answer that, it’s worth considering the average human’s ability to calculate risk – which usually falls somewhere between ‘poor’ and ‘terrible’. Think about the case of the swimming pool and the terrorist.

As social psychologists routinely point out, swimming pools are of far greater risk to us than all extreme terrorist groups combined – yet even those who can’t swim are seldom frightened of pools.

Quirks such as the above make it extremely difficult for humans to calculate risk. And when we’re unable to calculate risk, something known as the normalcy bias tricks us into thinking the future will be just like the present.

In other words, we’re unable to calculate the risk of cyber attack so we conclude that such a risk probably doesn’t exist. And the same predictable causes of cyber attacks continue, despite being easy to negate.

The cyber crime risk increases daily

Unfortunately the risk of cyber attack is very much real. And, in fact, it’s a risk that’s growing every day.

Speculation still remains over the extent to which hackers gained access to Democratic National Committee emails in the run up to the 2016 US election. Equally as headline-grabbing, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands accused of making life a little too easy for would-be hackers when arguably someone in her position should have known better…

If we’re to stand any chance of overcoming common causes of cyber attacks, we’re going to need to begin protecting ourselves online. Ordinary people need to know the risks – as well as the basic preventative measures everyone should take.

Overcoming common causes of cyber attacks

This fundamental cyber security information certainly exists. But it undoubtedly needs to become better-known.

Good advice is currently tucked away online. It needs to be made more accessible in a way that is digestible, attractive and engaging.

An intelligent approach to cyber security awareness is being increasingly demanded by commercial regulators. The fact is, it needs to become standard (the norm if you will) for more commercial enterprises. These same expectations should also extend to their supply chains.

Cyber security awareness is often only covered briefly during corporate training seminars, maybe as part of a vanilla e-learning compliance programme, if lucky. In reality, it needs to become a useful part of everyday organisational culture. It also needs to be something that reaches us and is relevant in our homes as well as in our places of work.

The risk of becoming a victim of cyber crime – of having criminals potentially empty personal bank accounts or use sensitive information to fuel high-stakes blackmail campaigns – is becoming greater every day.

And, sadly, as things stand our front doors aren’t just unlocked. They’re unlocked and wide open with welcome mats rolled out.

It’s time we take responsibility and do more about it.

Have you tried a free demo of CybSafe? We can help you take responsibility for your cyber security.