Cyberattacks are a constant threat to both businesses and individuals. The data breaches that have been revealed in the past few years have left many of us feeling more vulnerable than ever before. In 2016, there were 1,093 data breaches reported worldwide. In 2017, the number had risen to 1,937. There were also some major cybersecurity breaches from major companies such as Yahoo! and Equifax.
In 2013, Yahoo! announced a breach of 500 million of its user accounts by “a state-sponsored actor” which is a hacker working on behalf of a country or organization. This event made headlines because it was one of the largest internet security breakages in history.
In 2017, Equifax revealed a data breach.
Table of Contents
- What is cybersecurity?
- Why cybersecurity is important
- Cybersecurity for businesses
- Cybersecurity for individuals
- How to stay safe online?
- Be careful with your passwords and account details
- Use a VPN service
- Update your antivirus software and browser plugins
- Turn on two-factor authentication
- Avoid phishing scams and malware attacks
What is cybersecurity?
As you may already know, cybersecurity is the approach used in the cybersecurity industry, especially in the area of data protection, IT services, and other IT-related industries. This industry doesn’t only affect big companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Equifax and Microsoft, but it also affects small companies.
For many of us, cybersecurity is something that we’ve never given much thought to until our data was at risk. In fact, the current threat model is based on the assumption that businesses and individuals have security measures in place. While we do understand the importance of cybersecurity and its role in protecting our personal and professional data from the enemy, I am certain that there are still a lot of people out there who don’t seem to care.
Why cybersecurity is important
The importance of cybersecurity cannot be understated. In the past few years, companies have started to realize the need for cybersecurity and have adopted it as a key tool. When a company is able to identify, prevent and respond to breaches as fast as possible, it can ensure its brand image stays safe.
Just last year, Yahoo!’s global security team found and disclosed the 2014 data breach that affected more than a billion users. It’s thought that the hackers used advanced spear-phishing techniques to hack into Yahoo!’s network.
Most of the security breaches have been due to faulty or outdated internet security tools. Many companies have relied on outdated security tools and technologies.
Cybersecurity for businesses
In order to protect our personal and financial information, it’s important to learn how businesses protect their clients.
IT and systems Administrator Jeff Bullas has created a list of the top three things businesses need to do to stay safe. These are:
Ensure your company is cyber-secure (including staff).
Set up a company data breach notification policy.
Create a data security incident response plan.
Bullas has built his company on offering his customers an “unparalleled level of cyber security,” which is why he feels it is important for people to take cybersecurity seriously.
Bullas advises companies to:
1. Secure all devices connected to a network.
2. Ensure that all devices on the network are updated with the latest security patches.
Cybersecurity for individuals
The importance of cybersecurity in terms of individuals can be better illustrated by examining the increase in personal data breaches. It is safe to say that personal data and credit card information has become valuable commodity for individuals who can easily make money by selling their information. This is what happened with the large data breaches of Facebook in 2014 and Ashley Madison in 2015.
These events are usually associated with personal identity theft, where the attackers acquire personal information about an individual and use this information to gain financial gain.
How to stay safe online?
Be aware of the risks of buying from sketchy or unknown stores online. It is better to stick with familiar brands and companies that are more likely to have good security measures in place. Be wary of online auctions that may have obvious phishing scams in place. Also, read the full terms and conditions of any online purchase. The more you are aware of what the site is capable of, the safer you will be online.
A strong password that you are using every day is best. Strong passwords should not contain personal information. If you have multiple accounts and you feel that one of them is not very secure, change it. It is also recommended to set up two-factor authentication in all of your online accounts.
Be careful with your passwords and account details
Social media networks are a popular way to stay connected and have easy access to a wealth of information. However, while it is good to stay in touch, it’s also good to be aware of how you’re sharing information online. If you use the same password for every account you use, hackers are more likely to steal your personal information. Change your passwords and account details often, and don’t post all your personal information on social media platforms.
If you notice unusual activity on your account, you should contact your bank immediately.
Protect your devices with good antivirus protection
Malware is a word that’s commonly associated with malware attacks, which are malicious programs that can perform fraudulent actions such as sending spam emails and stealing bank information.
Use a VPN service
In order to avoid getting your information hacked, you will need to use a virtual private network. These are often referred to as “anti-virus” services and they are designed to keep your personal information secure while online. This is because they create a secure network that will hide your information from any hackers looking to steal it.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) provides privacy, security, and anonymity by preventing your information from being exposed to prying eyes. It provides an encrypted connection to the internet which is why it can protect you from hackers.
One of the best VPN services is ExpressVPN which will give you access to 46 servers in 52 countries.
Update your antivirus software and browser plugins
So, why do these data breaches happen? Some of them are due to negligence on the part of the companies. They do not update their security systems or provide the necessary training to their employees.
It is also clear that this is not the only cause because a business that uses the internet as its major source of income will inevitably find itself exposed to cyber threats.
But do you really need to be concerned about an online security breach? Probably not. Most of the information that is stolen is not your personal information, such as credit card or social security numbers, but it is what you have used on the internet. The safest course of action is to simply update the security of your system.
Turn on two-factor authentication
The majority of data breaches happen when hackers get access to a customer’s email account. The hacker has then obtained personal information, such as a password and a username, and can access all of a customer’s online accounts.
This happens because we assume our email accounts have been secure since the last time we changed our password, but in reality, most websites and apps give out the same information to everyone. However, it is important to keep the same password, especially when using your online accounts to buy a house or apply for a job.
Having two-factor authentication activated could be the solution to your data security.
With two-factor authentication, a user is required to enter a separate code to log in and access online accounts.
Avoid phishing scams and malware attacks
Avoid clicking on links from unknown email addresses, even if they seem to be from friends. This is a phishing scam and malware attack. Usually, it is a fraudulent website that invites you to enter your personal data, such as your credit card number. Remember that your email address may be used for scams like this.
Back up your information regularly to prevent data breaches from occurring
The Cloud is vulnerable to ransomware attacks.
This is a type of malware attack that encrypts data in an attempt to secure it. To prevent ransomware attacks from happening, the best thing you can do is to back up your important files in the Cloud. To back up data in the Cloud, your service provider will store all of your data on a server, which is often isolated from the Internet.
It is evident that cybersecurity is an important issue to tackle and a top priority for businesses and government agencies in this day and age.
However, a study by the Ponemon Institute indicated that only 39% of organizations felt that they were ready to protect their information and assets against data breaches. This is a massive problem as the nature of digital has made it possible for the information to easily be stolen and used for criminal purposes.
Most major data breaches are caused by cyberattacks which are designed to steal information or cause harm to a company’s reputation.
It is important for businesses to take cybersecurity seriously, which is why it is best to take advantage of these helpful tips on how to stay safe online.