iStock_000012767009XSmallCyber criminals have developed an arsenal of weapons that they can use to gain access to your computers and your personal information. Working with an internet security firm is the best way to keep your business network free of infestation and data theft. But knowing the most common hacker tricks can help you to educate your employees on how to spot suspicious behavior.

They make it personal. In the old days, it was often easy to identify emails with malicious intent. Remember all of those misspelled, poorly punctuated messages from Nigerian princes, asking for help hiding their money? Nowadays hackers have developed much more clever ways to inspire your trust, such as calling you by name or even mentioning your work or personal details.

Tip: Make sure your employees never open email attachments from unverified sources, or give out sensitive information, even if it seems like the person knows them.

They impersonate your bank, your credit card company, your favorite retailers, and so on. Hackers are pretty clever about creating emails that appear “real”. Then they email their victims from the “customer service department” of trusted companies, and lure them into giving away personal information.

Tip: Remind employees that no company, even those closely affiliated with yours, will ask for sensitive information over email. When in doubt, they should check with you before replying.

They’re patient. If you picture hackers spending hours in front of their computers, frantically trying to guess your password, your idea of cyber crime is outdated. Nowadays hackers use programs that rapidly try one password combination after another, for days or weeks on end, until it guesses the correct one. Meanwhile they are sleeping, showering, shopping, and basically getting on with their lives.

Tip: Use longer, more complex passwords. Don’t use names or common words, but rather random characters. Make sure to include upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and even symbols in your passwords.

They create innocent-looking websites. You might think you’re visiting a perfectly safe website, but it is sending attacks to your computer in the background.

Tip: Restrict employee web browsing in the workplace, make sure to keep your browsers updated, and install firewalls to prevent attacks on your network.

They post tempting videos and other content on social media. Hackers often create “shocking” content that is shared widely across social media. But when viewers click on the links, they’re prompted to download something or take a survey before they can view the content.

Tip: Adjust your network settings so that social media is blocked, and employees won’t be able to fall victim to these scams – at least not from work computers.