In previous articles we’ve discussed online security, but it’s worth revisiting because it remains a critical issue. If there is one common problem individuals and businesses face, it is an ongoing (and seemingly permanent) cybersecurity threat. Why is it still a challenge? The bad guys are constantly refining and perfecting their scams.
According to sources compiled by a leading cybersecurity company, in 2022, 30% of individuals suffering I.D. theft lost $10,000 or more as a result1. A full 83% of businesses reported more than one breach or attempted breach of their networks2. Frightening numbers indeed.
On a more positive note, a recent poll found that in the past year, 88% of home internet users had changed their password more than once, while 77% have been looking to multi-factor authentication3 with the goal of thwarting potential identity thieves. Those are good first steps…but here some others to help keep you safe now and in the future:
Dispose of old devices safely: A 2022 British study determined that one in five secondhand devices still contained the previous user’s data. That’s asking for trouble. Any time you dispose of a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone, be sure to securely back up your information, then completely wipe the hard drive.
Get to know how social engineering works: Cybersecurity Hub notes that in 2022, nearly 75% of the security professionals they polled agreed that the most dangerous online threat is social engineering. It can take many forms: Phishing, an attempt to get vital information through emails, Vishing, which can lure recipients via phone calls or voicemails and Smishing, which scams the unsuspecting using text messages. The surest way to remain safe? Do not click on any link unless you know its source.
Keep the hackers at bay: In recent years, an estimated 22% of American adults have been victimized by an account takeover4. The best way to stymie hackers is to create a password that combines upper and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation and symbols. Remember: the more characters, the greater the probability of remaining hack-free.
Protect your medical records: In 2022, the healthcare system was hit with almost 80% of all attempted breaches5. While this doesn’t directly affect your personal devices, you need to remain vigilant to make sure your medical records are not compromised. It’s a good idea to regularly request copies of your records to have them on hand. If your physician’s network is breached and your personal records are exposed, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission (866-653-4261) to report it.
Prepare for the next big thing – Web 3.0: The change is coming. It might not be readily apparent yet, but the web is evolving, and understanding how those changes will affect you is going to be important today and for years to come. This new iteration will move away from traditional web applications toward smart apps based on machine learning and artificial intelligence that will shape themselves around user preference. Learning how and why these changes are coming will help you adapt more easily when they arrive and prepare you for what promises to be a more immersive – and safer – experience.
No one set of tips will provide complete security – as we mentioned, criminals are continually finding new ways to exploit weaknesses in online protection. But, by adopting the suggestions that apply to you and maintaining awareness whenever you’re using your devices, you can significantly improve your odds of remaining safe in a sometimes hostile cyber world.
- ITRC Consumer Impact Report 2022
- IBM Security: Cost of a Data Breach 2022
- Consumer Reports and Aspen Institute 2022
- org: Account Takeover Annual Report 2021
- Fortified Health Security; Mid-Year Horizon Report 2022