Today, anyone can become the victim of a cybercrime. You no longer have to be a large financial institution or a global social media platform to be the next victim of data theft or hacking.
According to Interpol, the pandemic has pushed more people to go online, and this has created a surge in cybercrime over the last few years. And with increased remote working, this threat has become greater. However, you can’t protect yourself from threats that you don’t know.
Personal cybersecurity begins with understanding the common cyber attacks that are out there, and implementing measures and habits to prevent them from happening to you.
These take the form of messages or emails meant to look like official correspondence from banks, mobile service provider, and other organisations falsely claiming that your account has been compromised, blocked, or is suffering a system issue. Phishing can also come in the form of a great sale or raffle to entice the receiver to click links and share sensitive information.
These emails usually have poor grammar, spelling errors, generic greetings like “Dear Customer,” and have an unusually urgent request for your personal information. The email address from which they are sent will also try to mimic official addresses.
This is malicious software that, when activated, can disrupt your entire computer system, secretly gather and send your private data, install additional harmful software, or prevent you from using your computer completely.
They’re so common because the way they find themselves in individuals’ computers is also easy — usually through email attachments from fake accounts or downloads from dubious websites. There are different types of malware:
- Viruses: This program self-replicates after it attaches to a clean file. It then spreads throughout a computer system, infecting all your files.
- Trojans: This is a type of malware that looks like legitimate software. These also sometimes come from downloaded files or software from suspicious websites.
- Spyware: This is a program that, once installed, secretly records what you do and what you type to gather sensitive information such as credit card details or passwords.
- Ransomware: When a ransomware is activated, it locks down a user’s files and threatens to erase it. You can only regain access if you pay a ransom to the cybercriminals.
- Adware: These generate obtrusive advertisements on your screen when using your web browser. They usually come attached to free computer programs you download online. Some may also carry other types of malware.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Be careful of any email attachments. Exercise caution when downloading and opening email attachments from people, organisations, or brands you don’t know. Verify the email address of the sender and determine if the address is official. If you do download it, use an antivirus software to scan the file first before opening it.
Get the latest anti-virus software. Get a product that receives regular updates so it has the latest information on new viruses and malware. Make sure it can also cover all your devices, not just your computer: mobile phones, tablets, and other devices on your network.
Set up strong passwords. Have different passwords for your different accounts. Make sure they are complex and long with a combination of letters, numbers, and characters. Update them regularly every six months or every year.
Get a secure connection. Protect yourself by getting a home broadband connection that immediately detects threats, and stops them. Check ViewQwest’s Fibre Broadband Plans to find the best one for your needs. And make sure you have ViewQwest’s SecureNet that has threat prevention to defend your network from all threats, and blocks access to malicious websites that could deliver malware or steal your credentials.