Despite all the buzz about cyber threats, many of us still end up on the wrong side of a hacker’s attack. And it’s not just us regular folks.
Even top-tier cybersecurity companies can get caught in the net of phishing and other sophisticated attacks.
We use digital devices as easily as we breathe. That’s why it’s hard to see them as a threat to our security and privacy.
Nevertheless, the projected cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $8 trillion by 2023 and is anticipated to rise to $10.5 trillion by 2025. We have better security tools than ever, so why does this keep happening?
We have a few non-tech tips to help treat those smartphones and laptops with the respect they deserve.
It takes a few steps to stop you from exposing intimate information to snoopers and cybercriminals.
Why the Increase in Cybercrime?
Criminals are not relying on their cunning anymore. They can buy or rent sophisticated programs and resources (Malware-as-a-Service, or MaaS) to aid their nefarious activities.
These tools can provide a wealth of data, making it easier for criminals to tailor their attacks.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has also considerably enabled them to refine social engineering tactics.
This is where they manipulate people into giving up confidential information. Most cybercriminals don’t even know much about coding because, nowadays, they don’t need to crack codes or break through firewalls.
It’s about tricking people into inadvertently handing over the keys to the kingdom – your sensitive data.
9 Easy Tips to Protect Your Data
You don’t have to know much about cybersecurity to protect yourself. You only need to implement basic cyber hygiene and avoid these common mistakes:
1. Who Is Behind the Wi-Fi Hotspot?
Public Wi-Fi hotspots, like those in hotels or malls, are infamous for luring people into the “Evil twin” trap.
Attackers like to set up fake hotspots around public spaces to eavesdrop and intercept the data being sent from your device to the hotspot.
This could include passwords, credit card numbers, or personal emails. And, once you’ve connected to their hotspot, attackers could direct your device to malicious websites or even inject malware into your device.
Make sure the network is legitimate, and use your VPN to protect your connections.
2. Hide Your IP Address
Websites use IP trackers. When you visit a site, it can see your IP address. An IP Tracker is like a detective for IP addresses. It’s a tool that sniffs out information about a device’s location, network, and other details on the internet.
Although IP geolocation is not always precise, attackers can refine the information if used with other clues to identify a particular address or household and pinpoint your geographical coordinates.
That’s why hiding your IP address and shielding your details behind a VPN or proxy server is a good idea.
3. Antivirus Solutions
You should secure every digital device with an antivirus. Its job is to scan files for possible viruses and prevent you from installing malware.
Secure all internet-capable devices against potential attackers, including computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Unsecured devices are vulnerable to various threats like malware, hacking, and data theft.
4. Don’t Snooze the Update Button
Failing to update your computer or phone can increase the risk of a breach. Updates are meant to address newly discovered vulnerabilities and close security loopholes, so attend to update notifications promptly.
5. Give USB Storage Devices a Wide Berth
Infected memory devices can compromise an entire network within hours. Do you know where that memory card or flash drive has been and who has used it?
Even if you trust the person, their devices may have been infected without their knowledge.
6. Encrypt Internet Connections With a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN encrypts all the traffic between your devices and the internet by enclosing your data in a virtual tunnel and routing it via an intermediary VPN server.
It keeps hackers away from the data they are hoping to steal. Don’t use public internet connections without a VPN.
7. Get Secure File Storage and Data Sharing
Don’t risk your data by sending sensitive documents via email. You or the recipient may have been hacked, or there may be an eavesdropper on the internet connection.
Use secure cloud storage or create a secure private server to share files.
8. Passwords Are Dangerous
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA for short, is a far safer way to protect your logins than a password.
You need two things to log in: a password and a second method, like a code sent to your email or phone.
Hackers can’t get this code if they don’t have access to your email or phone, making it more challenging to break in.
But even 2FA can be broken, so you could consider using a hardware authentication device like YubiKey, Authty, or NitoKey.
Instead of receiving a code via text or an app on your phone, you simply press a button on your authentication device.
9. Guard Against Phishing
Criminals now use AI as their friendly little helper to make their attacks via phishing emails, malware, and ransomware scams more successful.
Most people encounter phishing attacks daily. Criminals send you emails or texts to trick you into downloading an infected attachment or clicking on a link in the email or text.
They often use good fakes of well-known companies’ branding or email addresses to make the scam look more authentic, so always move your mouse over any links before you click to reveal the true origin of such links.
Your antivirus or VPN link checker should be able to identify and block dangerous links.
Sharing Is Caring: Stay Vigilant at Home and Work
Cybercriminals don’t discriminate – your grandmother or kids could be their next target.
Investing in a VPN and antivirus software can provide an extra layer of protection while they surf the web. But it’s not just about protecting our loved ones.
In the workplace, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. Encourage your employer to invest in security awareness training.
This can help your colleagues recognize and avoid cyber threats, ultimately protecting the entire organization. After all, safeguarding your colleagues from cybercriminals helps to protect your interests.