Today all our data is transmitted on the internet. Our emails, bank details, passwords, and personal data are all on the internet, accessible to anybody who knows where to look. Not only that, but information like your home address or telephone number can also be retrieved from public records. This begs one question: Why do some people think it’s okay for their private data to be out there?
Perhaps they don’t feel their privacy is essential; maybe they’re more interested in convenience than security. They may not know what steps they need to take to protect themselves online or how easy it is for hackers or advertisers (to name a few) to track them using their personal information without consent, so why would they bother? If you feel this way, then I’m afraid this article is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are interested in protecting yourself online, then read on!
Why it is vital to maintain your cyber security
Don’t worry, though; I’ll be keeping things simple and without all the technical jargon that only confuses the average person. Also, I won’t just be regurgitating what people have told me over my years of experience in information technology – instead, I’ll give you some insight into how things work.
Let’s begin our journey by considering a few theoretical (albeit somewhat contrived) scenarios where ignorance could prove costly.
Scenario 1: You make an online purchase but notice 10 minutes later that the price has dropped significantly.
Can you claim a refund? What if the company argued that it isn’t their fault and therefore they have no obligation to honor the original price?
Scenario 2: You receive a phone call from somebody claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support. They inform you that your computer is badly infected with malware and offer to fix this for a charge of $299.99 plus tax. They ask you for your credit card information over the phone, which you give even though it doesn’t sound quite right – after all, Microsoft’s support number starts with 1-800, not 9,999! In just minutes after hanging up, several software purchases costing hundreds of dollars are made on your credit card people in another country who use your computer’s IP address.
How did this happen?
The scammer phoned you from a number that appeared to be Microsoft’s and sent a pop-up message on your screen, both of which made it appear as though the call was coming from Microsoft or at least someone with a valid reason to be contacting you. In reality, the scammers didn’t have to go to any such trouble because they used your credit card information against you. This works by tricking your computer into thinking that the site they want to purchase from is microsoft.com. Then when given your credit card details, all they have to do is forward these onto their bank while intercepting and reading any messages going in either direction.
Scenario 3: You are walking down the street one day, and somebody bumps into you. After apologizing, they pick up your wallet from the ground and walk off with it.
They can now use your credit/debit card to withdraw money from ATMs, access your bank account online, or open new accounts in any of your names – all without you even knowing until much later!
How did this happen? Remember that hackers create software to automate thousands of attempts to guess passwords, so make sure yours isn’t too simple! This is where having solid passwords can help protect yourself because if your password was easy enough for a stranger to guess, then they could access all of your private information (and eventually steals real money). Contact RemoteDBA.com for tips.
Scenario 4: You receive an email from your bank asking to call a specific number for ‘urgent security reasons.’ The email also contains an official-looking link which you click and are taken to what appears to be the bank’s login page.
You enter your username and password only to find out soon enough that someone else has managed to steal it because they used it within minutes of receiving it from you! They can now log into your bank account as if they’re you, order new debit cards, request a replacement PIN, transfer money from savings into checking, or withdraw cash from ATMs without any limits.
When logged in as a customer, anything entered on an unsecured site is sent unencrypted over the internet, even if the link itself appears secure. A criminal could intercept this information by using a keylogger or by tricking you into downloading software that records everything you typed on your keyboard. This theft could have been prevented had the banks been using HTTPS:// instead of HTTP:// everywhere.
If hackers don’t attack us directly, they will attack our bank accounts and steal money through electronic theft. Only 0.01% of cybersecurity attacks are reported! We must be vigilant about protecting ourselves online because banks do not preserve our money (nor do any other service providers). We can only rely on ourselves for security…
Your imagination can probably conjure up many more scenarios of how cyber-crime would allow criminals to target us in new ways – all of which may make it seem like we are helpless. However, understanding the risks and how to protect ourselves can go a long way towards stopping cyber-crime in its tracks.
Things to take care of
We need to understand that as well as having strong passwords and using antivirus software on our computers, there are other things we can do to help stop crime before it happens:
1) Keep your router updated because hackers target unsecured routers, which they then use as entry points for all devices within their network.
2) Use cryptography (e.g., HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://) wherever possible and always look for ‘secure’ padlock symbols when entering personal information online…
3) Don’t click links directly from emails – instead, open up an internet browser and type the URL yourself. This way, you know that what you’re looking at is accurate because it seems like an actual link.
4) Be careful about what email attachments you open as they may contain viruses that will spy on your keyboard, record everything, including usernames and passwords, or even delete all of your files! Remember always to back up essential files in case this happens.
Always keep track of your bank balance – never assume that transactions are legitimate unless verified by phone and only after you’ve ordered new cards when your PIN has changed.