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The Most Common Ways To Get Hacked

Statistics suggest that over 80 % of U.S. firms have been hacked at some point. Criminals attempt to steal information, shut down their systems, and extort ransom payments from them in return for lost data.

Surprisingly, many firms still don’t take basic measures to protect their networks.

The following article describes the most common ways businesses get hacked so you don’t get caught out. Here’s a rundown:

Weak Passwords

Hackers maintain databases of likely passwords they can deploy at a moment’s notice to bypass your defences. Sophisticated criminal teams can also sometimes guess passwords from other online properties, including social media.

You can prevent weak passwords by:

  • Insisting passwords are over 16 characters
  • Getting colleagues to include letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Enabling various forms of two-factor authentication


Malware intrusion is another common way for businesses to get hacked. Maintaining malicious software on your network provides criminals with an access point they can use to attack you at any moment. Malware can sit dormant and unnoticed for months before suddenly activating to capture passwords and other sensitive information. Some criminals use it to damage websites, ransom companies, or steal valuable data.

You can prevent malware attacks from affecting your organisation by:

  • Regularly running anti-virus scans on your network
  • Downloading the latest security patches for your software as soon as they become available
  • Preventing unauthorised installation of any software on your network


Phishing is also a common way to get hacked. Criminals exploit human vulnerabilities to access sensitive data, often posing as someone the victim trusts.

For example, emailing the victim and telling them they need to reset their password is a common phishing strategy. The unsuspecting individual enters their email and password into a bogus form, providing hackers with the information they need to infiltrate critical systems.

Phishing can also take other forms, but it is usually a con job where the criminal poses as someone trustworthy, like HR or the IRS. As such, it can be hard to stamp out without a holistic strategy.

Even so, there are plenty of tactics you can try, including:

  • Banning employees from providing any sensitive information over email or the telephone
  • Installing email filtering software that removes any unknown email addresses
  • Providing training on how to recognize and respond to phishing attempts

Zero-Day Exploits

Zero-day exploits are another common way for businesses to suffer security breaches. These occur immediately after a patch release, update, or new piece of software before it goes through public testing. Criminals take advantage of vulnerabilities in these unused systems before fixes become available, often causing extensive disruption.

Zero-day exploits are hard to predict and can occur across various attack surfaces. For example, some hackers use browsers to gain remote code execution, letting them gain control of the user’s computer. Others use memory corruption vulnerabilities or unpatched software.

You can protect against zero-day exploits by:

  • Ensuring all software is up to date and adequately patched
  • Sandbox suspicious files and applications
  • Continuously monitor for vulnerabilities using scans and penetration testing