The Ways That Hackers Target Your Employees
There are many ways hackers target your employees. Here are the most common—and most terrifying.
Hacking has become one of the biggest issues in commerce—and if you count what happened in the 2016 election, politics as well. Hackers have repeatedly been the cause of millions, if not billions, of dollars in loss year after year.
Hackers are such a big problem, the best black hat hackers in the world are often major subjects of government interest in the world of espionage. It's a scary thought, and just practicing safety on the internet is not enough to prevent an attack.
Most of the time, hackers will target a company's clientele via phishing or credit card skimmers. Sometimes, they may also go after the business owners in hopes that they can get details not privy to the public.
Believe it or not, many hackers are now beginning to look at key employees when they want to cause a security breach. As a business owner, you should be worried, if not downright scared.
Wondering how hackers target your employees? This article will tell you the most common ways that it's done and what makes these techniques so terrifying.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways that hackers target your employees is via phishing—also known as sending official-looking emails demanding them to give information to them. Though it's one of the oldest tricks in the book, a carefully designed email can easily fool a more unobservant employee.
The best fix is to remind employees to look at the address and to call up a supervisor if they get an email that just doesn't really seem quite right to them. It could be a phishing email, and a brief confirmation can be what you need to prevent a phishing attack.
Company Website Data as an Open Door
Some hacker target your employees by just going on business sites that offer a lot of information about the employees. They read up on employee names and their departments, then use that information to impersonate them—or otherwise find a way into your company's backend.
It only takes a little knowledge about an employee's email or phone for some hackers to be able to find a way to wreck your business. A data breach isn't that hard to create.
Vishing is very similar to phishing, however, it's rarer and way more insidious. Vishing is a portmanteau of "voice" and "phishing," and the way hackers target your employees through this is by calling them and claiming that there's an emergency at work.
Some may claim that they need the employee in question to let in repairmen to look at the computer systems, while others might instruct the person in question to give vital passwords or even install malware on their corporate computers.
Some vishing hackers will go so far as to spoof the number of the workplace, which in turn makes employees believe that the call is really coming from their boss.
Social Engineering via Social Media
Believe it or not, it doesn't take a lot of information in order for a hacker to get a pretty devastating attack to occur. It often only takes a name and a phone number—and they can easily get that via LinkedIn.
With the hacking form known as social engineering, hackers target your employees by using their people skills to get the information they want. Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter are perfect playing grounds for this.
Once they get into a person's business contact circle, they may use manipulative tactics to get people to give away corporate information—or figure out a way to impersonate that person.
This one can be pretty heartbreaking, but it's true. With some businesses that tend to be high-profile, hackers who want to steal information from the company in question will make a point to pretend to befriend an employee or manager.
They ask questions or get the target drunk or find a way to get some dirty secrets from them. Then, they use that information (often with proof) to blackmail the person into giving them company secrets or cash.
It happens, but it's thankfully rare.
USB Stick-Based Attacks
Perhaps one of the more terrifying ways that hackers target your employees and your company is via a USB stick-based attack. With this kind of attack, a hacker uploads a virus or keylogger onto a USB stick and programs it to auto-install.
They then drop the USB stick on a desk or in a parking lot, and wait for someone to plug it in. Boom! You're hacked.
In a rarer type attack, they will get to the place of business or find a way to distract an employee who just got off work. Then, they distract an employee long enough to jam the USB stick in a computer. Once the program is installed, they quickly remove the USB stick and leave—then let the program do the hacking for them.
If a hacker already knows that your company uses a certain email client, and also knows the emails of your employees, watch out. One of the most common ways hackers target your employees and actually gain access is via a "brute force" attack.
This kind of attack uses software to run through all the different possible passwords an employee uses—until they find one that works. After they gain access, the email account is hijacked and secrets are spilled.
Finding the Disgruntled Employee
A hacker who wants to really run amok may not try to target employees who currently work at the job and seem happy doing their thing. They often will choose to approach a disgruntled employee who was already let go to get the information they want.
Why? Because they would be much more likely to spill the beans willingly—no work required. If the company didn't change passwords or door codes after the employee left, that information is more than enough to cause serious devastation.
Perhaps one of the more surprising ways hackers target employees of major companies is by using malware apps that download onto their cell phones. There are a lot of different ways these apps can work.
For example, some malware apps are basically just Bitcoin theft scams. Others are keyloggers that are capable of sniffing out emails and learning passwords.
Realistically, it only takes one really bad mistake to make it possible for hackers to target your employees via their phones.
You should never think that all hackers target your employees via slick social methods or crazy tech scams. Believe it or not, a lot of the types of attacks used are fairly simple—and this includes stealing mail from your company box.
Things like impersonating an employee then picking up the mail as the mailman delivers it are easy to do. Once they get your company's mail, hackers target your employees and business using that crucial information they read.