Play your part in building a safer digital world: why cybersecurity matters


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In an increasingly complex and interconnected digital landscape, personal cybersecurity allows you to protect your data, your privacy and your digital well-being.

Play your part in building a safer digital world: why cybersecurity matters

We live in a digitally connected world. And for the most part, it has made our lives infinitely better. Technological progress has made everything possible, since games on demand has remote medical consultations. Incremental innovation allows us to be safer, happier and more productive. But inevitably there are downsides too, with cyber threats being an inherent consequence of our interconnected, technology-driven world.

Wherever there is money to be made and people to scam, cybercriminals will not be far away. This gives rise to awareness initiatives such as Cybersecurity Awareness Month (CSAM) in the United States and Canadaas well as European Cybersecurity Month, so important. Whether you are still in school or employed full-time, single or married, baby boomer or Generation X, Y or Z – cybersecurity is important.

Why are we vulnerable to cyber threats?

Today we are surrounded by technology. In fact, we have come to rely on him. Just try living your life without an internet connection for a day and see. This should be a cause for concern, not only in terms of what might happen if hackers manage to disrupt the services we rely on, but also in terms of the access we might unwittingly grant them to our data and our most sensitive finances.

But why are humans so vulnerable to cyberthreats? Consider the following:

  • We are social creatures: Social media is a global phenomenon that attracts almost five billion users around the world. But social sites are also a hotbed of scams too good to be true And phishing links – some of which are shared by our friends, or hackers who have hijacked their accounts. We are more likely to trust this content and fall for the scam.
  • We believe what people tell us: Part of being a social creature means wanting to believe what others tell us, especially if they claim to be someone in authority. That is why social engineering is a very popular tactic among cybercriminals and fraudsters. Deployed primarily in phishing messages, the end goal is usually to trick the victim into handing over their credentials, personal information or card details, or to trick them into clicking on a link that may download software. malicious on your machine or device. They will not only pose as an authority figure, but may also use pressure techniques to get ahead of themselves. a decision we know we shouldn’t make.

The same tactics are at play in tech support scams, where scammers call us on the phone pretending to help solve a non-existent computer problem. Or love fraud And investment scamswhere our better nature is manipulated by scammers to extract money from our online accounts.

  • We are mobile: Most of us now own a smartphone or tablet. But this exposes us to even more cyber risks. We are generally more distracted on these devices because we may be on the move or talking to other people at the same time. This means we may be more likely to click on phishing links and/or download malware. Additionally, fewer of us are protecting these devices with security software.
  • We are surrounded by smart technologies: The digital revolution has also extended to our homes in the form of smart everything. TVs, refrigerators, security cameras, speakers – you name the device and you can usually buy a version that’s connected to the Internet and has a computer chip to process data. The problem is that if it is connected and digital, it can also be hacked. Hackers could theoretically hijack our smart devices to launch attacks against other people or to break into our home networks and, from there, target our personal information and online accounts.
  • We make mistakes: Humans are social, but we are also fallible. This means that we don’t always choose strong and unique passwords, but instead opt for passwords that are easy to guess or crack. Or we share the same credentials across multiple accounts, so that if one is compromised, hackers could theoretically access them all. We can also forget to update our machines and devices with the essential fixes that manufacturers release to ensure their security. And of course we are victims of phishing attacks and scams frequently.
  • We trust others to protect our most sensitive data: Even if we secure our devices and online accounts, what happens to the personal and financial information we entrust to our insurer, healthcare organization, bank, cloud storage provider or other company? Unfortunately, many of these organizations are struggling to manage the growing cyber threats to their own IT systems. If they are compromised, your data could be too. A a recent study revealed 2022 was a near-record year for publicly reported data breaches in the United States, with more than 422 million downstream victims.

These organizations may have their customer databases accessed and stolen. Hackers could also find a way to embed information-stealing malware on website payment pages, to steal your card details as they are entered (i.e. say digital skimming). Unfortunately, fallible humans also work in the organizations that many of us trust to keep our data secure.

What is the worst case scenario?

The impact of the above should be obvious to anyone who has ever suffered a serious cyberattack. This could include:

  • Loss of access to your devices/machines (if compromised by malware)
  • Loss of access to your social media accounts
  • Financial loss due to stolen card details or scams that trick you into sending money/purchasing fraudulently advertised items
  • Psychological distress following a breach or scam
  • Time and money spent trying to recover fraudulently obtained funds
  • The administrative burden of regaining access and resetting account passwords across multiple accounts
  • Physical danger, if smart home security cameras And children’s monitors are hijacked

The scale of certain categories of cybercrime is astonishing. Investment fraud was the most serious last year, netting criminals more than $3.3 billion. according to the FBI. Tech support scams ($807 million), personal data breaches ($742 ​​million) and romance frauds ($736 million) also generated big revenue.

How to stay safer online

With this in mind, we all need to think more carefully about how we protect ourselves from cybercriminals and fraudsters. Let us therefore consider at the strict minimum the best practices recommended by the CSAM:

Keep in mind that cybersecurity awareness is a year-round affair and multi-layered security software from a reputable vendor will go a long way in keeping you safe. Let’s work together to build a more secure digital world.

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