Common Cybersecurity Issues with Communication Applications

Communication applications often are often targeted to initiate or facilitate cyber attacks.

Communication applications are being used widely in business contexts. Cyber-attacks that infiltrate organizations through this channel can wreak havoc on a business, as well as affect the individuals. While consulting and working with cyber security companies is the recommended strategy, there are ways to prevent cybersecurity incidents with current resources.

 

Read on to learn about common cybersecurity issues with communication applications, as well as the methods one can utilise to mitigate these threats.

 

Phishing

Phishing is usually carried out by a perpetrator who poses as a trustworthy entity, prompting users to provide confidential and important information. This includes sensitive data such as passwords and credit card details.

 

This is usually done via email or instant messaging. The phisher will send a link that directs users to a hoax website that is identical to the legitimate site.

 

Phishing can cause extensive reputational damage for corporations. Existing users or customers would likely lose trust in the brand, potentially affecting the company’s market share.

 

One way to avoid falling victim to phishing is to hover your mouse over the hyperlink sent and ensure that the URL is a legitimate one. Critical thinking is crucial as well, hence careful observation of the site is required. When in doubt, clarify with relevant co-workers or the cybersecurity team, if available.

 

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack

As the name suggests, the hacker intercepts the communication between a trusted client and the network server, by inserting himself “in the middle”. This attack can occur in any form of online communication, including social media and email. The hacker aims to retrieve important information through devices as well as eavesdrop on private conversations. Through eavesdropping, the hacker can obtain personal information, credit card details and more.

 

The best countermeasure for such forms of eavesdropping is data encryption, which prevents attackers from accessing confidential data even after a successful MitM attack.

 

Password Attack

Nearly all communication applications require passwords to gain access. Some users set their passwords as things related to them. For example, their birth dates, names or phone numbers. This can make it easy for hackers to conduct a brute-force attack.

 

There are three types of password attacks.

 

Brute Force Attack

This attack is a trial and error attempt. The hacker would try various combinations of passwords to break into an account or website. Though time-consuming, the brute force attack is regarded as a precise method.

 

Dictionary Attack

A dictionary attack is a form of brute force attack. It tests all words in a dictionary, hence the name. Unlike the brute force attack, where a large amount of keyspace is searched orderly, dictionary attacks only target the ones that are likely to succeed.

 

Dictionary attacks owe their success to users who tend to use short and common passwords that are easy to guess. Therefore, one way to stop a dictionary attack is to use longer and more complex passwords.

 

Limiting the number of login attempts will work as well. This deters and locks out a user after a specified number of failed attempts in entering the login credentials.

 

Key Logger Attack

A keylogger is a program or software that can intercept and record a user’s keystrokes without the user’s knowledge. This means that everything the user has typed is being recorded. This includes passwords and login IDs.

 

Some ways for a user to protect himself / herself from falling victim to a key logger attack are avoiding pirated or suspicious freeware, regularly changing passwords, and using an up-to-date web browser.

 

While cyberattacks are common, organizations and their users can exercise measures to prevent cybersecurity incidents. The most common cybersecurity issues with communication applications can usually be dealt with by implementing proper identity and access (IAM) management practices. Organisations that focus on customer engagement can also seek IAM solutions that focus on reducing friction within the customer experience, through various features, one of which is adaptive authentication.