The rise of cybercrime
Crime such as fraud, identity theft or extortion have existed for as long as there have been civilizations. A criminal’s goal has always been the same: to make as much money as possible, as easily as possible and with a little risk as possible.
Traditionally, this was difficult, because criminals were often limited by their location and had to physically interact with their intended victims. This not only limited who them to a great deal of risk. However, crime has changed radically with the advent of the internet and online technology. 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, enabling them to be more effective than ever.
Why you are targeted
Ultimately, cyber criminals know that the more credit cards they steal, the more bank accounts they back or the more passwords they compromise, the more money they can make. They will literally attempt to hack anyone connected to the internet – including you. Hacking millions of people around the world may sound like a lot of work, but it is surprisingly easy as they use automated tools to do all the work for them. For example, they may build a database of millions of email addressed and use automated tools to send phishing message to every one of those addressed. Sending the emails costs the criminals almost nothing: they simply use other hacked computers – perhaps even yours – to do their dirty work. This is another example of why your devices have value; if nothing else they can be used to hack or harm others. Ultimately, cyber criminals do not know who will fall victim to their email attacks. However, they do know that the more emails they send out, the higher their success rate. Remember, you not being singled out. Rather, these criminals are targeting everyone they can, which may happen to 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 we recommend include the following:
Ultimately, you are the first line of defence against any cyber attackers. 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.
Common sense is your best defence: is something seems odd, suspicious or too good to be true, it is most likely an attack.
Update your devices
Make sure that any computer or mobile device you use is fully updated at all times. This is not only important for your operating system, but for any applications or plugins you are using. By always keeping your systems and applications updated you help to protect yourself against the most common attacks.
Use Social media responsible
The more information you post online, the more you out yourself at risk. Any information you post can make it easier for cyber criminals to target and trick you – and may even identify you as a more valuable target.
Choose secure passwords
Use a strong, unique password for each your accounts. That way, when a website you use gets hacked and all the site’s passwords are compromised (including yours), your other accounts are safe. Also ensure that all your different device are protected by a strong, unique password, PIN or some other type of locking mechanism. To securely keep track of all your different passwords we recommend tat yiu use a password manager.
Keep tabs on your credit cards
Check your financial statements often. We recommend at least weekly (monthly is not enough). As soon as you see any unauthorized transactions on your credit, immediately report them to your card issuer. If your bank allows you to set email or text message alerts for unusually large or odd transactions, use them for even faster notification of suspicious activity.
Secure your network
Ensure that your Wi-Fi network at home requires a password for anyone to join it. Then secure the network with a strong administrator password. Also ensure that that you know which device you have connected to your home network, and that all of those devices are updated.