In a world where you can pay for groceries with a swipe of your smartphone or transfer money instantly to a friend on the other side of the world, it comes as no surprise that digital security is a major issue for corporations. However, small business owners and individuals should also be wise to the risks they face. One of the top cybercrimes over the past few years was business email compromise, or BEC, and victims lost billions of dollars around the world.
Recognize the Risks to Your Cyber Security
Whether you’re the boss or an employee, the head of a large family or an individual, there are serious threats to your confidential information. What are some of the biggest risks, and how can you protect yourself? Here are just a few examples of cybercrimes and some of the top tips for keeping yourself, your family, and your business safe.
According to Experian, a credit reporting company in the United States, a data breach occurs when an individual obtains access to or uses private information without the proper authorization. This includes taking customers’ credit card and banking information from a major outlet store or obtaining access to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s records. These breaches are responsible for lost money and reputations. In 2018, there were 1,579 data breaches, and the numbers aren’t better for 2019.
Malware and Viruses
Ransomware is one of the most pernicious forms of malware. Other malicious software does damage to computers, networks, servers, and clients in many ways. These programming designs are sometimes simply meant to cause trouble for the computer owner. Ransomware, on the other hand, shuts down access to software systems until the owner of the system pays a specified amount of money. One source estimates that a new ransomware crime takes place every 14 seconds and it takes many businesses a week or more to recover their data. Malware is an ever-growing threat to individuals and businesses.
As people increasingly embrace mobile technology, apparently safe apps create risks for users because of issues within the apps. One of the most common of these grayware app risks is the leak of mobile numbers. If you have a VPN app on your phone or tablet, be aware that these apps often ask you to provide dangerous permissions.
These email and text messages are designed to get personal information, such as passwords and account numbers. Some victims of these crimes have turned their Social Security numbers over to cybercriminals. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, a reported 30 million dollars was lost to phishing in just one year.
Even if you, as an individual or a business professional, don’t use cryptocurrency, your computer’s CPU power may be working overtime mining cryptocurrencies for someone else. Cryptojacking refers to the use of your computing device by someone else to mine cryptocurrency without your permission. What’s the danger in this? Other than lags in execution and performance, the presence of a cybercriminal’s botnet on your supposedly secure system can be frightening.
Are You Prepared?
A major study, conducted across several countries, found that most organizations are not ready for a cyber attack. The study found that between 70 and 82 percent of organizations could be labeled “cyber novices” because of their lack of preparation. Part of this problem is the innocuous appearance of some malware. A spear-phishing email looks legitimate and is designed to gather as much specific information as possible through a single response. Clicking the wrong button or link can infect your computer with a botnet from a cryptojacking criminal.
Take the First Protective Steps
The Federal Trade Commission offers several tips for recognizing and avoiding cybercrimes. Although scammers regularly alter and update their methods, becoming familiar with some basic security steps can help you begin to boost your digital security.
- Install security software and set it to update automatically on personal computers.
- Set up security software updates on your mobile devices.
- Employ multi-factor authentication so that it’s harder for cybercriminals to get into your account.
- Back up your data and copy backup files to an external hard drive or remote cloud storage. Do the same thing for the data on your phone.
After taking this initial step, work with data security experts for further protection. For example, Hari Ravichandran, CEO and Founder of Aura, a digital security company, tracks emerging cybercrimes and helps consumers avoid digital risks.
Don’t Leave Yourself Open to Risks
Whether you own a business with financial records to protect or a consumer, concerned about the security of your credit card numbers in the records of major shopping sites, you want to know that you’re protected from cybercriminals. Stay apprised of new digital crimes. Learn to recognize the signs of phishing and other scams. Finally, enlist the help of professionals to install expert-level security systems.