Everything you need to know about cyberattacks, and the cybersecurity gadgets to protect you

When we think of the word "attack" we don't typically tend to think about electronics and technology. But we live in a time where it's pretty much a guarantee that you will be affected by a cyberattack. In fact, it's estimated that nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft—and that number is from 2018. But what exactly is a cyberattack? And what can you do to protect yourself from one?

Everything you need to know about cyberattacks, and the cybersecurity gadgets to protect you

Before we delve into anything, it’s important to know exactly what the definition of a cyberattack is—and to know what it’s not. Merriam-Webster defines a cyberattack as “an attempt to gain illegal access to a computer or computer system for the purpose of causing damage or harm.” So, this basically means that people are gaining access to computer systems to steal, use, and manipulate information. Yup, that’s a pretty broad definition, but there’s a pretty broad range of things that qualify as cyberattacks, and a broad range of ways it can affect you. We’re going to get more specific, so don’t worry. Because before you can choose the cybersecurity gadgets to best suit your needs, you need to know why you need them.

These things are not cyberattacks

While the definition states “damage or harm”, it’s important to specify that we aren’t talking about emotional harm. It might feel like it at times, but that awful guy spamming your Twitter with rude comments or pictures isn’t a cyberattack. And though it is a form of an attack, cyberbullying isn’t a cyberattack either. The goal in these things isn’t to get information from you, gain access to a network, etc. Some people just suck, and they’re mean, and all the meditation in the world won’t make them better, more enlightened people.

There are also debates happening regarding issues like Facebook and fake news articles. That’s a lot to cover in this post, though, so we’ll let you read this article on the threat of fake news articles. As technology evolves, so do the ways in which people can use it to harm. And since everyone has a smartphone in their hand, it makes it easier for people to spread false news faster.

What are some examples of cyberattacks?

There are seven main types of cyberattacks. These are the ones you are most likely to see mentioned in news articles and hear people talk about.

Malware Cyberattacks

Malware is short for “malicious software”. You’ve likely heard people talk about “trojans”, “worms”, and “viruses”. And you’ve probably seen headlines about cyberattacks on big companies regarding them. Basically, this is something that reproduces and spreads. So, if one person in the office opens an email with the virus in it, it sends it to everyone else in that person’s contact lists, and so on.

You’ve probably seen this mentioned in terms of an attack that renders all of a company’s computers unusable until IT comes in and fixes everything. Sometimes these attacks gain the hacker root access to a system. And sometimes people have no reason for doing it other than the giggles they’ll get.

Phishing Cyberattacks

Phishing is when criminals work to dupe people into giving them their information. We’ve all received emails from a prince somewhere telling us he has a billion dollars for us if he can use our bank account. Or there’s the email that looks like it’s from PayPal asking you to verify your social security number. Or the pop-up that says there is a virus on your computer and you need to give this company remote access to your computer to fix it. Most times, it’s obvious it’s a fake, but even the most-savvy internet user does a double-take at some of them. Rest assured, there are companies trying to solve this.

Denial of Service Cyberattacks

This type of attack is when the attacker stops people from using an online service properly. Let’s say that Chad over there got upset because a credit card company wouldn’t issue him a card so he could buy a new Peloton. He might set something up to send a ton of traffic to their website to render it unusable, therefore keeping legitimate customers from accessing it.

Man in the Middle Cyberattacks

A man in the middle attack is when hackers manage to put themselves secretly between the user and whatever web service they’re trying to access. One of the most common ones are fake Wi-Fi networks. So, if you’re in Starbucks to work for the day, and you see “Starbucks_Public”, you might get on it thinking that it’s the business’s account. What you might not know is that it’s a person who has set up an account to look like it’s Starbucks to trick you into using it. Once you log in, you’ve given the attacker the ability to see everything on your computer—passwords, banking information, the whole shebang.

Cryptojacking Cyberattacks

This is when people get someone else computer to create cryptocurrency for them—you’ve probably heard of this as “mining”. They do it by installing malware on someone’s computer. Or they will run it in a JavaScript in someone’s browser. (If you’re looking for some of the best cryptocurrency gadgets, you should check this out.)

SQL Injection Cyberattacks

SQL injection lets an attacker exploit a vulnerability to take control of someone’s database. CSO says it best: “Many databases are designed to obey commands written in the Structured Query Language (SQL), and many websites that take information from users send that data to SQL databases. In a SQL injection attack, a hacker will, for instance, write some SQL commands into a web form that’s asking for name and address information; if the web site and database aren’t programmed correctly, the database might try to execute those commands.”

Zero-day Exploits Cyberattacks

This is the term for when there are “holes” in software that haven’t been fixed yet. But once the company releases a patch to fix the vulnerability, the window for hackers to exploit it shrinks more and more each time someone puts the patch on their company. Basically, they have until day zero to do whatever they can, day zero being the day that everyone has downloaded the patch.

How cyberattacks affect you and life on a large scale

So, now you know what cyberattacks are, and we’ve given you some examples in the descriptions as to how they affect you. But let’s go a bit deeper. Because cyberattacks are one of the biggest threats we face right now.

We rely on the internet. Society relies on the internet. It’s in practically every aspect of our lives. WE even use it to make new friends. And while that’s great, it makes us vulnerable. Think of how much information you keep on your laptop, and how much information other companies keep about you on their networks. Back in the day? People had to work to get your information. You kept it in your head or written down on a piece of paper you hid in the back of your desk drawer. You didn’t need a million passwords for everything.

Now? Well, now is a whole ‘nother story. Think about some of the recent data breaches, which are cyberattacks. Target. Equifax. Yahoo. The perpetrators weren’t after Target’s information: they were after yours. Your credit and debit card numbers.

And think about when these companies are attacked, and it costs them money to fix it. Do you think they’re eating the cost? Or are they raising the prices to recoup it? Some cyberattacks have been so costly for companies that the perpetrators are on the FBI’s most-wanted list. Like Park Jin Hyok. He orchestrated the Sony Pictures attack.

Rather than spending money to see upcoming Sony movies in the theater, people were downloading and watching them in their own home theaters. He also orchestrated a series of attacks around the world against banks where he attempted to get $1 billion dollars.

Cyberattacks are not just about your money

One of the biggest cyberattack issues in the news for the past few years is election tampering. In the US, the 2020 elections are a concern. And in other countries, election tampering has been used to elect corrupt officials.

And think about the more minute parts of daily life. What about when someone steals your Netflix account information? That’s not just about people watching shows on your account. They’re able to change your subscription information, costing you more money. (Okay, so that one’s about your money.)

Cyberattacks can release loads of private information to the public. Did you take some artful nudes in the past that you want to keep, but you don’t want everyone to see because you’re a preschool teacher now? Well, now the world knows. People have lost jobs due to private information being released during cyberattacks. (Crap, that tied back to money too. Money really does make the world go ’round, doesn’t it?)

Protect yourself from cyberattacks

There is so much more we could cover about cyberattacks, but we’ve given you a lot to digest—and terrify you. Never fear, there are ways you can protect yourself. Sure, you can’t control what other people and companies do, but there are steps you can take.

Some of the steps are basic, and some require a little maintenance. But they’re doable and cheap, if not free.

  1. Use strong passwords. It seems pretty basic, but you’d be surprised just how many people still take the easy way out.
  2. Keep your software updated. The updates happen for a reason. Yes, it’s a pain to have to do it sometimes, but would you rather take a few minutes (or longer…) to protect yourself with that update, or let it go and get infected by a virus?
  3. Use some sort of antivirus software on your computer. Chances are, you’ve heard of Internet Security Suites like Norton.
  4. Strengthen your home network. Use a VPN. Many people thing they are difficult to set up and that you need to be an IT guru, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of plug-and-play options on the market.
  5. Don’t leave your social media wide open. It seems simple, but the amount of people who have their information on social media is astounding.
  6. Don’t participate in online memes/games that are designed to phish for your personal information. Things that ask for your first pet’s name, your mother’s maiden name, the street you grew up on… These are all designed to get answers to common security questions. They might seem fun and innocent, but they aren’t. If you want to play a game, play one of these instead.
  7. If you have kids, make sure they know some internet safety basics about what information isn’t okay to give out.
  8. Scrutinize which Wi-Fi you connect to in public. Working from Starbucks? Staying at a hotel? Ask them which specific network is theirs.
  9. And most importantly, you need to report it if you’re a cyberattack victim. Authorities can’t stop perpetrators if they don’t know about them.

Use these internet protection devices to keep yourself safe from cyberattacks

We’ve covered a lot, but the good thing is, we have suggestions for you.

Google Titan Security Key Kit Computer Lock adds protection

The devices included in the Google Titan Security Key Kit Computer Lock provide an extra level of data protection. This set includes a USB security key, Bluetooth security key, USB-C to USB-A adapter, and micro USB to USB-A cable. The USB device acts as a computer key, while the Bluetooth one works with iOS and Android devices. Each Titan product is a small device that fits right on your keychain, making it an easy everyday carry item.

Blockchain Router Decentralized Internet Device makes you anonymous

With the Blockchain Router Decentralized Internet Device, you can get the online privacy you deserve. In fact, it provides a way for you to use the decentralized web with privacy, security, and anonymity. With all the same features that a modern SOHO router has, this secure internet router gives you even more. You don’t need to share your data with corporations. And you don’t need to compromise your privacy so the government can learn about you. This compact internet privacy gadget fits in your palm and works anywhere in the world. All you have to do is connect to it over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or VPN.

Stronghodl Cryptocurrency Storage keeps your keyphrases secure

If you can’t remember all your top-secret recovery phrases on your own, use the Stronghodl Cryptocurrency Storage to keep them safe. This secure, analog product is not only safe from prying eyes, but it’s also safe from the elements. In fact, Stronghodl is fireproof, waterproof, and shockproof. Virtually any disaster you encounter, this durable cryptocurrency storage device will withstand it. So you’ll always have access to your cryptocurrency wallet.

Mudi 4G LTE Privacy Router is great for internet security while you’re traveling

Typical wireless routers leave your information vulnerable to hackers, but the Mudi 4G LTE Privacy Router keeps your data secure. This cryptography device protects your data whether you’re a business person or a backpacker. If you’re traveling for work or working while traveling, this 4G LTE router helps you use the internet anonymously through the Tor service. This encrypts your data and bounces it around randomly. Plus, this device provides wide VPN compatibility with access to more than 25 providers. Finally, Mudi offers encrypted DNS with Cloudflare DNS over TLS to provide a fast and secure performance that prevents hijacking.

Winston Online Privacy Device protects your information

Prevent big tech, advertisers, data brokers, hackers, or even the government from accessing your data with the Winston Online Privacy Device. This hardware filter installs between your modem and router to protect your information online, all without monthly VPN fees. Installing in just 60 seconds, this plug-and-play device will keep your information safe. It works with any connected device, giving you total peace of mind. It hides your geolocation, encrypts your DNS, and even scrambles your traffic with other Winston users.

Vektor Advanced Wi-Fi Network Security Device stops hackers

Block hackers and snoopers with the Vektor Advanced Wi-Fi Network Security Device. Featuring an all-in-one design, the Vektor offers protection from hackers and malware with an advanced smart firewall and intrusion detection system. Blocking ads and web tracking, its built-in VPN router allows you to extend VPN protection to devices like your smart TV that cannot run VPN software. Vektor protects your smart devices from hackers and detects malware infections weeks or even months before traditional antivirus programs and firewalls.

HELLO 2 Encrypted Video Communication Device lets you video chat securely

Easily communicate via audio and video with the HELLO 2 Encrypted Video Communication Device. The TV companion turns any TV into a powerful communication tool for screen sharing, video conferencing, digital whiteboarding, and more. Likewise, you can use HELLO 2 for gaming, live broadcasting, and TV streaming. Furthermore, HELLO 2 protects your privacy thanks to the two integrated hack-proof controls as well as end-to-end encryption. The HELLO Solaborate Messenger platform provides tight integration across mobile/PC platforms and devices for seamless collaboration. Finally, HELLO 2 supports popular video conferencing platforms including Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger and many more.

IOEX BOX BlockChain VPN Device has a private cloud

Internet security is important. Especially in this digital age where we keep everything online. You need a way to keep your information safe, and the IOEX BOX BlockChain VPN Device gives you this. The IOEX BOX is a decentralization platform that combines blockchain with VPN service, and it does this without any of the hidden fees or monthly costs. It’s easy to use, and this plug-and-play internet security device provides you with a secure internet connection and a private personal cloud. And you’ll have no bandwidth limit.

Norton Core Threat Intelligence Router comes from a known name

Keep your home secure with the Norton Core Threat Intelligence Router. This product comes from Symantec, the leader in antivirus software. Putting this technology in a physical device will save your systems from digital threats. In addition to keeping your computer safe, this device extends its security into your smart home devices. It can protect everything from your smart lights to your smart locks and smart thermostat. Finally, the Core Threat Intelligence Router uses data encryption, secure DNS, and even automatically updates its security. All of this works to thwart risks and threats from the online world. Amazingly, if one device is infected, the Norton Core can stop the malware from spreading.

The moral of the story here? Be smart to keep yourself safe. It seems like a lot of information to digest and it can be overwhelming to think about. Some easy things to start with are to keep a note on your calendar and change your passwords regularly, and to keep something for a VPN at home. Just those two things can make a huge difference in your cybersecurity. If a cyberattack happens to a large company, there’s not anything you can do about it, but if you pay close attention at home you can derail other would-be cyberattackers. Do you have anything you’re using at home already? Or do you have any other tips or tricks for people?


Tera has worked in the publishing industry since 2004 and considers the written word her first love. When she's not writing or editing, she's usually traveling, knitting, or binge-watching Netflix.
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