Cybersecurity is a growing cause of concern for consumers and business leaders. As technology evolves, many people are concerned about the safety of their Internet-connected devices.
Since its inception, many unscrupulous actors have used the Internet for personal gain. They've successfully effected numerous security breaches and caused financial harm to both consumers and businesses, and despite the ongoing vigilance maintained by the world's cybersecurity experts, a considerable number of hackers remain digitally and physically elusive.
In the United States, malicious actors successfully exploited approximately 3,000 enterprises in 2014. During this time, they executed 783 data breaches, a nearly 30-percent rise over the previous year. Overall, enterprises were victims of cyber-attacks an average of 15 times per week.
Mitigating cybercrimes begins with awareness and a willingness to implement a security protocol. To deter cyber threats, it's first necessary to understand them. The following passages reveal 4 informative tips to help guard against cyber threats.
Tip 1: Know About Social Media Dangers
Centralized data systems, such as email servers and social media platforms, are high-value targets for hackers who phish, spam and practice other illicit techniques to acquire user account information. By exploiting seemingly innocuous information, spammers create highly convincing emails, text messages and phone scripts to trick account holders into revealing sensitive information and unknowingly granting access to their online accounts.
Like businesses, hackers use consumer data to improve the outcomes of their campaigns, personalize communications and capture the attention of consumers. Social media users should monitor their accounts for suspicious activity, avoid messages that create a forced sense of urgency and avoid clicking on suspicious links. Still, digital thieves use accurate and detailed information to make their communications look authentic, making scams increasingly difficult to avoid.
Tip 2: Cyber Threats Can Take Different Forms
It's essential that Internet users are careful about what they do online. For instance, individuals should never share private information such as credit or Social Security numbers via email. Moreover, Internet users should always think about how they engage anonymous digital contacts on social media and messaging platforms. Any message that a hacker can use to contact victims is a potential gateway for exposure to an exploit.
Cyberbullying is another form of digital threat. The Internet now allows potentially violent criminals to extend the reach of their threatening behavior, and it can take place across any number of digital mediums. This includes social media, text messaging, SMS, email and other online communications. Those who know someone who is a victim of cyberbullying should help that person seek counseling if required and contact the proper authorities to help with imminent and serious threats.
Tip 3: Shut Down Your Computer and Log Off
Computer users should never leave their gear unattended -- not even for a short period of time. It takes less than a minute for a malicious actor to reset a password using the settings in a logged in online account.
This also applies to sensitive information stored on flash or external hard drives. To protect these devices, owners should always stay cognizant of their location and use third-party encryption or password protection.
To drive this point home, anyone is a target for cybercriminals. It’s delusional for any computer user to think that they are invulnerable to cybercrime. Accordingly, computer users should also secure their devices and accounts with effective passwords. A good mix of characters and different passwords for each account and device makes it harder for cyber thieves to gain access.
Furthermore, handwritten password lists pose a threat if lost or stolen. Using a third-party password manager program can help account holders secure their digital assets.
Tip 4: Be Aware of Public Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi is an enticing and data-saving benefit offered by many businesses. However, this convenient perk also exposes Internet users to security vulnerabilities because hackers have unlimited access to unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.
When accessing the web at an Internet café or using a free Wi-Fi hotspot is necessary or simply irresistible, users should exercise caution. It's good practice to avoid accessing personal accounts or sharing sensitive data well connected to an unsecured network.
When traveling, it's important to remember that the laws that govern cybersecurity are not the same as those established in the United States. International travelers can find out about national cybersecurity policies by querying guest services during hotel check-in.
Furthermore, smartphone users should disable the auto connect feature on their devices when traveling overseas. While this is a convenient feature for device owners moving about familiar areas, it's not ideal to enable this feature in unknown territory – let alone a foreign country. By setting devices such as smartphones and laptops to only connect manually to networks, device owners can protect their equipment.
Facebook's most recent breach of 50 million users will continue to continue to have a long-lasting impact on users and the platform. Analysts warn that cyber thieves could use this pilfered information in a series of ongoing digital crimes in the future.
Long after the 2018 Facebook breach, many questions linger. Hackers gained access to anywhere from 30 to 50 million user accounts. 14 million of those exploits included highly sensitive data. The individuals affected by the breach may be eternally exposed the digital threats. Fortunately, computer users can protect themselves from this kind of exposure moving forward by practicing the provided tips as well as other Internet use best practices that exist and will continue to emerge as hackers develop new techniques to ply their craft.