Stealth cyber threats and how overconfidence can be your worst ally

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You've probably heard, repeated until exhaustion as if it were a mantra, that common sense is the best antivirus and that no security tool is needed on your computer.

This statement is usually accompanied by a series of tips that are asserted with some condescension that nothing happens if you are a little careful not to browse websites of unreliable content and not to open the first suspicious file that comes attached to the mail.

A few years ago this claim may have made sense and was a sufficient formula to stay relatively safe from cyberattacks, but the threats have been sophisticated enough to become almost undetectable, so common sense is not enough. Also, you will need the help of security tools like those offered by Norton in its service packs to detect what is hidden from you with the naked eye.

From destructive virus to stealth theft
To understand that common sense as an antivirus tool is no longer a decisive value in preventing attacks, we must look back to see how the nature of computer attacks and targets that move cybercriminals to realize that it is not a game and cybercrime already moves more money than drug trafficking.

According to data from the Spanish Observatory of Computer Crimes, in 2019 cybercrime grew exponentially, from the 37,458 cyberattacks that were registered in 2011 to the more than 81,307 cyberattacks in 2017.

All this without having said that, as indicated from this same body, 44% of victims are never aware that it has been attacked until their data have been used in some form of fraud.

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The collective imagination still associates viruses with those files that were downloaded from the browser or copied to the computer from some external drive and announced to hype and cymbal that your computer had been attacked creating some discomfort and even damaging some components or files in the most serious cases.

The mood of cybercriminals in those years was more geared towards achieving a certain reputation with their gestation than gaining real economic benefit.

However, the target of the current attacks is just the opposite. Today's cyber attacks seek to get hold of the most useful data, so the longer it stays invisible to the user, the more options to get hold of their bank details, mail passwords, online store credentials, etc.

This makes the entire attack process much more sophisticated and stealthy. So much so that the user can be browsing the portal of a newspaper, an online store, or the page of an absolutely reliable brand, and suffer an attack from his browser without even downloading anything to his computer.

The motives that move cybercriminals have also changed. It is now limited to mere economic interest. Even if you think your data doesn't matter to anyone, many stakeholders are willing to pay fortunes for it, so cybercriminals will do their best to get as much private data as possible.

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Shielding yourself into the claim that with common sense is enough, perhaps it was true a few years ago, but at a time when even cybercriminals use artificial intelligence, moving in a safe environment without the help of security software is complicated even for the most expert eyes. It is true that even having security software installed on your computer, no one is 100% safe from cybercrime, but not having that help greatly increases the risk of being an easy target.

Malware, phishing, and ransomware are the main threats
Just as the motivations of cybercriminals have changed, so have their attack methods to become more efficient and stealthy.

Viruses and adware that led to the top spots in the number of attacks have now been relieved by all kinds of malware and Trojans that camouflage themselves behind reliable applications or web to attack users in the form of phishing attacks to get hold of their data or ransomware to hijack their files.

Does that mean common sense is useless in protecting users? Not at all. In fact, user caution remains a valuable element in computer security, but it has become the weakest link in the chain and it becomes necessary to have security software like the one offered by Norton 360.

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This software takes care, for example, of reading the code to detect potentially harmful scripts hidden between the code of a legitimate and trusted website or application.

This code is not visible by the user and has been injected by cybercriminals without the knowledge of its owner, so nothing will alert the user to the risk. The mission of the security software is to accompany the user during their navigation to detect and block those invisible threats that will take advantage of the minimum risk to sneak into your computer and start monitoring it without raising suspicions.

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