Crimes such as fraud, identity theft and extortion have existed for as long as people have existed. A criminal’s goal has always remained the same: to make as much money as possible, as easily as possible, with as little risk as possible. With the advent of the internet and online technology, crime has evolved. Now cyber criminals can easily target almost anyone in the world, with little or no cost and at very little risk. Additionally, cyber criminals have become highly organized and efficient, becoming more effective and dangerous than ever before.
Why are you a target?
Cyber criminals know that the more credit cards they steal, the more bank accounts they hack or they more passwords they crack, the more money they can make. They will literally attempt to hack anyone anyone connected to the internet – including you. Hacking millions of people from around the world, may sound like a lot of work, but it is extremely easy for them since most use automated tools to do all the work for them. For example, they may build a database of millions of email addresses and use an automated tool to send a phishing message to every one of those address. Sending emails cost criminals almost nothing: they can simply use other hacked computers to do it for them. This is just another example of why your devices have value; they can be used to hack or harm others. A cyber criminal will not know who will fall victim to their email attacks. However, their success rate goes up with the more emails they send out. They just target everyone they can, which might include you.
When cyber criminals attempt to hack people, they are typically using relatively simple methods. Fortunately, by following some equally simple steps, you can go a long way towards protecting yourself. Some steps include the following:
You are the first line of defense against any cyber criminal. Many attacks begin with a cyber criminal trying to trick or fool you, such as tricking you into opening an infected email attachment, or fooling you into giving up your password over the phone.
Commons sense is your best defense:
If something seems to be odd, suspicious or too good to be true, it is most likely some sort of attack.
Update, update and update:
In our day and age, almost every modern device has an operating system or firmware. Make sure your devices are fully updates at all times. This is not only important for your operating system, but for any applications or plugins you are using. By keeping your system and applications up to date, you help to protect yourself against the most common attacks.
Be responsible on social media:
The more information you post online, the more you may put yourself at risk.Any information you post can make it easier to become a target and perhaps even be tricked.
Choose secure passwords:
Use a strong, unique password for each of your accounts. That way, when a website you use gets hacked and all the site’s passwords are compromised, your other accounts are safe. Also ensure that all your different devices are protected by a strong, unique password, PIN or another form of authentication.
Keep tabs on your credit cards
Be sure to check your financial statements regularly. Once a week will do. As soon as you spot any unauthorized transactions on your credit card, immediately report them to your card issuer. If your bank allows you to set email or text message alerts for your transactions, be sure to enable it.
Secure your network:
Enjoying your WiFi network at home? Make sure you have a password for anyone to join in. Then secure it with a strong administrator password. Also, take note of all the devices you have connected to your home network, and that all of them are update.