Personal Security: Here’s What You Need to Know
2020 has acted as something of a wake-up call as far as cybersecurity goes. With the onset of the pandemic, we saw an unprecedented number of attacks hit not just large enterprises, but small- and medium-sized businesses too.
Since March, cyber-attacks have been increasing rapidly, with attackers taking advantage of a myriad of factors that played into their hands—namely; a lack of existing security in businesses, a sharp increase in attack vectors as a result of remote-work practices, and a deficit in security awareness among users. That’s why it’s important to be aware of this situation and stay safe.
In 2020, the global economic costs of cybercrime totaled over $1 billion, double what is was in 2018.
From malware to phishing and so much more, here is what you need to know to keep yourself safe from these risks.
Why Are Cyber-Attacks Increasing Now?
Cybercrime has been escalating almost every year. Even before the pandemic, hackers perpetrated attacks once every 39 seconds on average, according to cybersecurity statistics—affecting one-third of all Americans.
Part of the increase in recent years has to with a general trend of more sophisticated attack methods being employed by hackers, but it’s not the only element in play.
Cybercriminals have also recognized that now is an opportune moment to strike because of the tremendous uncertainty that has pervaded since the pandemic began.
As with the financial crisis in 2008, when waves of cybercrime became commonplace, 2020 has similarly seen a drastic increase in attacks as hackers take advantage of people’s fears and anxieties to catch them out with convincing phishing scams and the like.
So hackers took advantage of this and even created malware like the “coronavirus malware” that steals user credentials.
It’s become a significant issues across virtually every industry, even targeting hospitals and front-line workers for the highly sensitive data these professionals have access to.
Whether you’re working at home, are back in the office, or even just browsing your phone casually, it’s essential to be on your guard and aware of this heightened threat level.
Steps You Can Take to Improve Security Now
The good news is that, like most criminals, hackers generally prey on easy targets and work on the basis of the law of averages.
In other words, hackers know that if they attack a certain number of users, on average a particular percentage of them will not take their security as seriously as others and will fall victim to attacks.
If you do things like leave your internet connection unencrypted or recycle passwords, you make yourself a much easier target for them.
Fortunately, with few basic and affordable security tools, you can reduce your risk of getting attacked and minimize the damage should one occur.
Here are three things you can start doing now to ensure personal security:
1. Get a VPN and use it
VPNs or virtual private networks have become favorites in the cybersecurity community. That’s because they are not only extremely effective but also easy to use.
VPNs encrypt your internet connection and anonymize your IP address. By doing so, they radically enhance the safety of everything you do online—from work to streaming videos and banking, and more.
By routing your data through an encrypted private network, all digital footprints will lead to that, as opposed to through your network provider—and ultimately your laptop.
VPNs are the perfect “set it and forget it” technology. All you do is install one and have it set to turn on anytime you connect online. It doesn’t get any easier than that, and you can find excellent options for between $5-10/month.
2. Enhance your account security
Your online accounts are among the most sought-after targets for hackers. With them, they can steal your identity, use your credit cards, or even blackmail you.
That’s why you need to get serious about account security. First, you need unique, lengthy, and complex passwords for all accounts. Avoid using your pet’s name; you need something tough, and that’s where password managers come in.
They not only generate extremely robust and “TSJ4C#h24vT^” but store in a secure digital vault that only you have access to.
Combined with two-factor authentication and biometric security tools, you can be much more certain that nobody will be getting their hands on your accounts any time soon.
3. Recognize phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are as old as time. Most of us recognize them as the much-ridiculed “Nigerian Prince” scam.
But nowadays, cybercriminals are much more sophisticated. They’re able to harness people’s anxieties and play on fears with extremely convincing scams to get people to fall for their tricks. For more information, see our related post linked earlier in this blog.
Often, they’ll create fake versions of real websites, pretend to be trusted organizations or known contacts, and walk you through a process in which you input your credentials—which of course feed directly to the cybercriminal.
Their goal may be to get access to your accounts, implant malware, or sell your information to somebody else.
Regardless, you need to know how to recognize these attacks—pandemic-related or not—and learn how to stay safe from them.
Learn about how to be conscious of your security, scan files and check links before you click on them and be vigilant about anything sent to you that arouses an inkling of suspicion—even if you have known the purported sender your whole life!
Stay Safe From Rising Cyber Threats
While hopefully, the end of the pandemic is in sight, the threats to our digital world are only going to continue to grow. Whether it’s COVID-inspired or not, the internet can be a risky place.
Start protecting yourself and begin using these vital tips and tools in everything you do online now.
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