As technology has become increasingly involved in our daily lives, cybersecurity is no longer just a tech or business issue, but a real personal concern. Modern society brings the use of technology in all our activities, redefining how we live, work, socialise and how we find and consume information.
One of the less positive aspects of the high use of technology is represented by the increased vulnerability in front of cybercriminals and, implicitly, cyber attacks.
‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ as a Chinese proverb says, is exactly what the modern user is required to do in order to stay protected: to take the first steps in ensuring the security security of personal information, transactions and business. Easy to say and a bit harder to do as it implies understanding the risks, vulnerabilities and how the cybercrime environment works.
Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network. While most cybercrimes are carried out in order to generate profit for the cybercriminals, some cybercrimes are carried out against computers or devices directly to damage or disable them. Others use computers or networks to spread malware, illegal information, images or other materials. Some cybercrimes do both — i.e., target computers to infect them with a computer virus, which is then spread to other machines and, sometimes, entire networks.
A primary effect of cybercrime is financial. Cybercrime can include many different types of profit-driven criminal activity, including ransomware attacks, email and internet fraud, identity fraud, as well as attempts to steal financial accounts, credit cards or other payment card information.
Cybercriminals may target an individual’s private information or corporate data for theft and resale. As many workers settle into remote work routines due to the pandemic, cybercrimes have grown in frequency in 2021, making it especially important to reduce the risks of being hacked.
How to protect yourself against Cybercrime
1. Strong Passwords
We all want passwords that are easy to remember. Hence, we go for birthdays, anniversaries, or significant event dates that are easy to remember. But that’s putting your device and possibly your finances at risk.
Passwords should be of eight characters (including a combination of letters, numbers and symbols).
You can also use a password manager that will assign and store unique, encrypted passwords for different sites for you. You log in to the manager, who then applies a password to the respective website. You don’t need to remember the password since it isn’t stored on the site and a hacker won’t get it.
2. Ensure your software is up-to-date
Cyber frauds are most likely to use exploits or flaws to gain access to your system. Patching those flaws and updating your software will minimize the chances of them being able to gain entry to any personal data or information.
3. Don’t fall for pop-ups
If an email or pop-up window asks you to enter a username or password, don’t do it. Instead, open your browser and visit the site directly. If you are yet not convinced, then contact the company or entity that supposedly got you. Know that well established and serious companies will never ask you for your login information through an email.
4. Secure your internet network with a strong encryption password and a VPN
It stands as a good idea to begin with a robust encryption password and virtual private network. A VPN will encrypt all the traffic other than your devices until it reaches the final destination. If cybercriminals do work to hack your communication line, they won’t intercept anything except encrypted data.
Use a VPN whenever you have a public Wi-Fi network, whether it’s in a library, hotel, airport or café.
5. Manage your social media settings
Ensure that your personal and private information is locked. Keeping your posts in the public is never a good idea. Social engineering cybercriminals can easily get your data, so the less you share, the better.
Revealing personal information like your maiden’s name or pet’s name can expose the answers to common security questions.
6. Protect yourself from identity threats
Identity threats can happen anywhere, whether you are travelling or relaxing at your home.
You should be aware of the increasing number of cyber frauds worldwide. When tricked into giving away personal information due to fraud or deception, emails and messages can lead to potential identity threats or even financial losses.
Thus, it’s crucial to safeguard your data.
7. Educate your children about internet risks
Hasn’t the internet always been a concern for parents?
Teach your children about internet scams and what is the acceptable usage of the internet. Communicate with them and assure them that they can come to you if they face any stalking, bullying or online harassment.
8. Secure your computer and mobile devices
Firewalls are the first line of cyber-defense — activate it. It blocks connections to unknown websites and will keep various viruses and hackers.
Use anti-virus/ malware software. Prevent viruses from infecting your computer by installing and regularly updating antivirus software.
For mobile devices, keep certain things in mind like downloading applications from trusted sources, installing the latest OS updates, keep your applications and operating system current with the latest system updates.
Learn more about the importance of secure devices here
9. Protect your financial details
Remember this: Legitimate banks or companies will never ask for any personal details or ask you to transfer money into an account.
People face fraud who are looking to steal money or personal information by asking people to fill random online forms with their details.
10. Protect your data
Critical and sensitive files like tax returns and financial records need to be protected — use encryption.
Moreover, make regular backups for your essential data and store it in another location.
- Focus on what you can do to protect your device and data.
- Keep complicated passwords, and don’t allow others to visit your password-protected sites in your absence.
- Avoid uncertain sites and chat rooms.
- Encrypt sensitive files.
- Don’t respond to pop-ups, texts and emails that ask for your login credentials.
- Look for a secured VPN connection and don’t share your details with strangers.