The evolution of online shopping and services in recent times, has led to a massive exchange of personal and financial data over countless networks. The personal data that people don’t even share with their closest friends gets uploaded online in order to create accounts, buy products, and book hotels, flights etc. Moreover, with the sudden arrival of a global pandemic, there was a massive rise in online activities, including the exchange of personal data. This was a result of businesses being forced to close and people staying home due to government restrictions.
This opened up the floodgates to cybercrime. A total of 1,862 data breaches occurred in 2021 in the US alone, up more than 68 % compared to 2020. The remote work culture has forced organizations to use cloud-based operations, but poor cyber security makes them vulnerable to data loss. Data breaches expose their sensitive information, leaving users at risk of identity theft and ruining companies’ reputations, making them liable for compliance violations.
It is imperative that companies make their employees aware of cyber threats and data breaches by training them on the latest cyber security tips and tricks to maintain the security of personal and business data.
What is a cyberattack?
The term cyberattack is rather broad and refers to a variety of scenarios. However, in most cases, it is an attempt to compromise a device or network to cause harm or data theft. A cyberattack can result in the loss of data and/or money of a person or a business. Individuals, organizations, and even governments can all be victims of cyberattacks.
Hackers try to spot vulnerabilities in the defence system of computers or a network and exploit them to steal sensitive data. They use various methods to bypass computer systems and networks’ security or authentication processes. Hackers may also use malware designed to intrude or damage a system. Cyberattacks often occur due to the carelessness of users who choose an easy-to-guess password or use a default password on their router.
Common types of cyberattacks
There are a variety of ways that hackers use to intrude on devices and networks to steal sensitive information. Here are the common types of cyberattacks.
Hackers use special software to break into the security of a computer from a remote location, and send illegal instructions to a computer or a network to steal sensitive information. Government websites are often times victims of hacking, which then leads to the loss of confidential information.
Piracy or plagiarism
This common cybercrime occurs when an individual or company makes illegal copies of copyrighted movies, music, software, and games. However, in today’s world most countries have cyber laws that prohibit people from downloading pirated content. Nonetheless, this does not stop peer-sharing websites out there from encouraging piracy.
Cyberstalking is online harassment in which the victim receives a series of messages or emails. Stalking can be done both online and offline. However, stalkers mostly move to offline stalking only when the online method does not work. Cyberstalking involves threats, defamation, libel, sexual harassment, or other actions to influence, control or intimidate a target. Cyberstalkers are known for using emails, online messengers, and social media as their methods of communication when approach their target.
The term cyberterrorism is defined as the act of internet terrorism involving large-scale disturbances of computer networks. Cyberterrorists use viruses or malware software to strike individuals, organizations, and governments to produce a sense of terror. Their primary goal is the harm and demolition of a business or government.
Identity theft is a common cybercrime that occurs with most people using online applications like banking and financial apps or websites. Criminals retrieve sensitive information like the victim’s bank account details, credit card details, social security, and passwords to drain money or shop online using the victim’s information. Cybercriminals aim to withdraw money from the victim’s account or do online shopping in the victim’s name which leads to financial losses and damage to the victim’s credit history.
This is a hostile action that involves the destruction of data and computer systems using different methods techniques. Cybercriminals use malicious programs and install them remotely on the victim’s computer to perform actions such as deleting hard drives and login credentials. These programs are different from viruses that get into a computer software.
Tips on how to prevent online fraud and other cybercrimes
Cybercrime is everywhere and individuals and organizations fall prey to cybercriminals. However, it is possible to protect your data and devices from cyberattacks and fraudulent activities by considering the following tips.
Recognize that there are scams out there:
Always keep in mind the possibility that the approach might be a scam when interacting with unknown people or businesses, whether it’s over the phone, by email, in person, or on a social networking site. Keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Be aware of who it is you are dealing with:
Do a little more research if you’ve only ever met someone online or if you have any doubts about the reliability of a company. Look up people who may have dealt with them online by performing a Google image search on the people’s pictures. Contact your friend directly to confirm that it was really them who sent the message or email if it seems strange or out of character for them.
Be mindful of requests for your personal information or money:
Never send money to someone you don’t know or trust, or give them access to your credit card, online account, or copies of your personal documents. Never consent to transfer money or goods on someone else’s behalf because doing so is illegal.
Be aware of any strange requests for payment:
The use of unusual payment methods, such as preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards, or digital currencies like Bitcoin, is frequently requested by con artists.
Keep your personal information private:
Before throwing away your bills and other important documents, lock your mailbox and shred them. Keep your pin codes and passwords in a secure location. Be extremely cautious when deciding how much personal information to disclose on social media platforms. Your personal details and images may be used by scammers to create a false identity or to specifically target you for a con.
Keep your computer and mobile device secure:
Always protect access with a password, avoid granting others access, keep security software up to date, and backup any important data. Avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information, and secure your WiFi network with a password.
Pick secure passwords with care:
Select strong passwords that are challenging for others to guess and update them frequently. A combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols should be used in a strong password. Never share your passwords with anyone and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts or profiles.
Review your social media security and privacy settings:
Use caution when connecting with people on social networking sites like Facebook and become familiar with your privacy and security settings to keep yourself safe. Immediately take steps to secure your account and make sure to file a report if you notice suspicious behavior, clicked on spam, or were the victim of an online scam.
Hang up when it gets suspicious:
Even if the caller mentions a well-known company, you know well, hang up if they call you asking for remote access to your computer. The free upgrade or fix that scammers promise to install on your computer contains a virus that will give them access to your passwords and personal information.
Delete suspicious emails, links, and texts instead of opening them:
If in doubt, confirm the contact’s identity using a dependable resource, such as a phone book or online search. Use the contact information that was not provided to you in the message.
Be careful when shopping online:
Always use an online shopping service that you are familiar with and trust and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Consider your options carefully before using virtual currencies (like Bitcoin) because they lack the same security measures as other payment options, and you cannot get your money back once it has been sent. Study up on online shopping fraud.
Thousands of people get scammed around the world and lose their money as a result of online theft. Together with our world leading partners, Cyberclaims offers a top-notch service in an industry where trust is a huge barrier and helps victims of cyber fraud by tracing their lost digital assets. Have you or anyone you know been a victim of a scam? We can help you trace your lost digital assets. Click here for more information.