Online Threats and Digital Security
Much of the world’s business has some online component now, making digital security crucial to business success, educational attainment, avoiding fraud, and other concerns. A recent survey showed cyber attacks increasing, such as an 88 percent uptick in email fraud or spoofing, a 67 percent increase in impersonation fraud, which could be social engineering and a 26 percent increase in ransomware.
Learning to protect yourself from cyber attacks is more important than ever.
What is Digital Security?
Keeping data and communications safe, whether from hackers, leaks, malware, poorly constructed access or storage, or corruption, is the basis of digital security. Threats multiply daily, making it more difficult to protect from a cyberattack as employees and service providers require easy access to data for more efficient, cloud-based work, learning, and decision-making of all kinds.
Defend yourself with good antivirus software, by understanding the security of your cloud-based applications and storage, staying vigilant when responding to emails, keeping your browser up to date, and performing simple security tasks such as reverse email lookups.
Most Common Types of Online Threats
We are usually unaware but our data and digital security is constantly being attacked from a variety of sources, seen and unseen. Whether the attack is instigated by an individual hacker or automated bot it’s crucial to have the best multifaceted defense in place before it happens. Some of the common forms of threats include:
- Phishing – this takes place when an unsuspecting person doesn’t scrutinize an email that appears to be from an associate or other trusted source and provides information that’s requested, which may include access to their identification, accounts, PIN numbers, or other sensitive information. Using reverse email lookup can stop a phishing attack by checking the authenticity of the original email.
- Ransomware – hackers have discovered ways to lock up and encrypt large amounts of data then contact the owner and extort a ransom from them in order to get it released. This malware can enter a computer through a security hole in existing software or through a link sent via a phishing email. Ransomware has affected many city and town computer systems and demanded untraceable cryptocurrency as payment to unlock it.
- Trojan Horse – this takes place when an unsuspecting person clicks on a link provided which launches malware that attacks their computer system or gets access to data, sending the stolen data to the hacker.
- Social Engineering – this is a sophisticated attack that targets specific individuals who have access to the desired data or accounts. In a social engineering attack a target is identified and flattery and secrecy/trust is used to disarm them before requesting a special favor. This sort of attack usually involves impersonating a superior within the same organization, so deep inside knowledge of the target is key.
- Email Spam – more annoying than hazardous, spam may harbor malware. Even attempting to unsubscribe can get you in trouble as programs may require more information than is wise to provide in order to request that they stop. Experts suggest keeping your primary email off mass marketing accounts, public websites, or items for sale in order to prevent scammers from cobbling together enough datapoints on you to steal your identity. Use a different, secondary email account for newsletters and nonessential communication.
- Spyware – this is software that is activated on your computer to track your browsing habits and can even record and report your keystrokes to learn credit card numbers and other personal information.
- Web cam – sophisticated hackers can turn every sort of device against you if your security is insufficient. Unless you disable or block your web cam, it’s also a target that can allow hackers to monitor your activities including listening in on business calls and viewing documents on your desk.
Digital Security Tools
The easiest and least expensive ways to protect your identity and your data from infiltration is to be informed about the potential threats. Increase security settings from the default level and use challenging passwords. By avoiding categories of things such as spam emails you dramatically enhance the safety of your data.
- Avoid public wifi which is easily manipulated by hackers due to poor security.
- Skip the “free quiz” that social media offers because the questions are usually designed to gain your personal information that can lead to hacking your accounts (words you may use as passwords or security questions like the name of your first dog, the year you graduated from high school, your mother’s maiden name, etc.).
- Use a reverse email lookup tool when an unsolicited email seeks updated banking or account information or wants you to download important items you weren’t expecting.
- Look for secure web browsers that share a minimum amount of your personal data with third parties or that offers strong security built in. Keep it updated.
- Use email with good spam filters that automatically updates and which adapts to new threats.
- Learn about the firewall provided by your home internet router and make sure to install periodic updates that patch security and privacy vulnerabilities. Turn off the device’s remote administration portal that may allow hackers to tap into your private information. Experts also recommend disabling the device’s Plug and Play function that allows devices to interact.
- Consult a trusted source of unbiased consumer information when selecting antivirus programs to download.
- Opt for two factor authentication for email, banking, and other accounts when possible. By getting a security code via SMS, hackers are hindered from guessing your password and access to your account. You may also seek SMS updates from your credit card companies that inform you any time the account is used.
- Get to know the security settings on your current mobile and home automation devices in order to set difficult passwords that will keep hackers at bay. Never re-use passwords. Free password keepers allow you to create difficult passwords for a variety of websites while only needing to remember the master password.
Digital Security Trends
Tech experts who are forward-thinking about device use and the direction that hackers are headed maintain that phishing attacks continue to be a favorite opportunity for hackers because they are simple and can be sent to millions of email addresses very easily. Yet hackers are also counting on people not being savvy about technology and therefore vulnerable to attacks that exploit old software and common gaps in internet security.
- Better security is a must for your mobile device as phones have become the new target for malicious attacks including hijacking the account by getting access to the owner’s social security number.
- Protect your connected devices at home by changing the master password to your account and turning off voice assistants when they’re not in use. If an individual gets your Amazon password for instance it’s possible to access files from your home devices and potentially unlock doors with a voice command.
- When opting for cloud storage services research the supplier’s security methods and settings. Your personal identity information, sensitive photos, and account data should be convenient for you but difficult for others to access.