You can go almost anywhere in the world, at any given time, and find someone using a personal electronic device. Mobile phone usage has skyrocketed, with the current data putting the number of global smartphone users at 3.5 billion. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that 77% of the population has a smartphone, and 47% of them said they couldn’t survive without their device. Personal tech is much more than a smartphone, though. From fitness trackers to iPods and tablets, the options for personal technology that can be worn or toted around are expanding. One unfortunate by-product of this advancement is the increased risk of cybercrime.
Media attention has alerted the world to major data breaches in national and global retail and financing giants, but there is still a naivete among individuals who rely on tech and their devices for the bulk of their entertainment, shopping, social connections, and work-related activities. The seriousness of the exposures that individuals face motivated Hari Ravichandran to establish a foundation that not only educates the public about cybersecurity threats but also supports tech developments that fight and defend against such threats. These defenses are crucial. Your personal information is highly valued on the dark web because it can be sold or exploited. Here are the most common mistakes people make when assessing their cyber risks.
Thinking that you are safe from cyber risks because you don’t have a lot of money or all of your information is boring is a dangerous mindset. No one is immune to cyberthreats. If hackers could get into billion-dollar companies with the best cyber defenses money could buy, how do you think you will fare with no defenses? With the rising rates of cybercrime, it is no longer a matter of if the crime will happen, but when.
Those who aren’t aware of the warning signs or who choose to ignore the most basic of cybersecurity measures are playing right into the hands of cybercriminals. Although many people aren’t actively following cybersecurity safety protocols, most of them will admit that having their personal data stolen would be the worst type of crime that could occur to them. The best way to keep this from happening is through awareness. There are many free training webinars and online resources that can share how to keep your information safe when working online. You need to stay vigilant and recognize the earliest signs of trouble.
Cybersecurity experts say that the primary mistake made by users across the globe is choosing weak passwords. The systems that hackers are using to crack passwords are becoming more sophisticated, and using your initials and birthdate isn’t going to keep you safe. Passwords that aren’t complex and different for each online website or account you use can be cracked in under five minutes if a hacker had the right software. These brute force attack can quickly leave you in financial ruin and strip you of your identity. Use a randomized, complex combination with numbers, symbols, and case-sensitive letters. Never use an entry from the list of the worst (and most common) passwords.
Though you might find the blinking update icon annoying, you should never skip or delay an update for your device or trusted app. These updates often include security patches, and by failing to install the latest version, you create a weak link in your system. Updates are usually sent after a cyberthreat has been detected, so keeping your system up-to-date could keep you from a malware or virus attack. Make sure your devices have a cybersecurity software installed, as it can detect issues long before you are aware they exist. By setting your devices to automatically download the update, it can keep you from forgetting or putting it off.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but cybercriminals are becoming more clever in the phishing schemes. The replications of websites or services are getting more difficult to detect, so you need to use common sense before signing up for a sweepstakes entry, renewing a warranty, and registering for a discount card. It is estimated around 80,000 people get “phished” each day, so this is not an area to take lightly. Spam filters won’t take out all the threats, so do your due diligence before clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
Untrusted websites could be a hot-bed for cybercrime and hacker traffic. Make purchases from reputable sites and use a secure payment method like PayPal. Don’t fall for free download promises or the sites full of pop-ups and ads. These sites may contain links that are spyware or malware, and your data could be compromised in a matter of seconds.
Cybersecurity threats lurk all over the internet, and yet many users are completely unaware of how vulnerable they have become. You can’t just blame the hackers when your identity is compromised or your financial information is stolen. It is your responsibility to protect yourself.