Good Personal Cybersecurity Practices Can Keep You and Your Devices Secure
Not only do we want to keep our information and our devices secure, but we also want to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Cybercriminals want to steal our personal information, banking information, and any other information they can sell on the “Dark Web”. Their goal is to do it without us knowing about it. You see, if we don’t know that our sensitive information was compromised we can’t mitigate the damage that is sure to happen.
This article discusses Personal Cybersecurity practices and how to defend and protect against cybercrime attacks. The article is broken down into sections that address several aspects of personal cybersecurity.
You see, if we don’t know that our sensitive information was compromised we can’t mitigate the damage that is sure to happen. Good personal cybersecurity is not only about protecting against attacks, but it’s also about detecting successful attacks and taking actions to recover. We can’t stop all the attacks from being successful but we can limit the damage. This article can help you.
Good personal cybersecurity practices can protect your sensitive information, personal devices, and home networks. At your home or office, you and your personal devices create a Personal Area Network. Protecting this network requires good personal cybersecurity practices. Your personal area network is only as secure as your most vulnerable device.
What is Personal Cybersecurity?
First, let’s define what cybersecurity is:
Cybersecurity is the act of protecting digital systems and digital assets. It entails the use of methods and techniques that can protect important assets and systems and networks that transport and store the assets. Cybersecurity is meant to protect against unauthorized access. It also protects digital assets from loss, damage, or destruction. That is referred to as Data Loss Protection (DLP).
Personal Cybersecurity addresses the self-needs of an individual. It is applied whether you are at work or at home, or anywhere in between. It involves the protection of personal information, personal devices, and our Personal Area Network (PAN). Effective personal cybersecurity practices require a personal awareness of the environment we are in. By possessing the knowledge and having the necessary resources we can protect our personal devices, our sensitive information, and our lively hood.
So, if we diligently utilize good personal cybersecurity practices during our daily routine we can stay ahead of cybercrime threats that lead to disaster. There is no way to mitigate all cyber threats perpetrated by cybercriminals. But we can incorporate our best personal cybersecurity practices and prepare ourselves to react to events when they occur.
Any crime that is committed using a computer network or combinations of systems is considered a cybercrime. Cybercrime can include computer-related crimes if the computer is part of a network. But, a computer-related crime typically refers to a crime committed on a stand-alone computer. So. a cybercrime is committed when a malicious actor uses a network or computer system to conduct criminal activity. That’s a very broad definition.
Because cybercrime entails so many facets of computer and network systems it is challenging to fight. In our daily lives, we are constant targets of cybercriminals. By utilizing good personal cybersecurity practices we can mitigate many cybercrime attacks. As cybercriminals become more organized and begin to automate their attack methods we are being bombarded with constant attacks.
Who Does Cybercrime Hurt the Most?
According to a special report sponsored by INTRUSION Inc., “Cyberwarfare In The C-Suite“, It is predicted that cybercrime will cost the world more than $10 trillion per year by 2025. Just in 2021 alone, the prediction is that cybercrime will cause damage to the tune of $6 trillion. Last year there were over 15 million consumers who fell victim to identity fraud.
So, it’s us, the consumers, that are really getting hurt the most. In a lot of these cases, the victim was partially responsible. It’s important for people to implement good personal cybersecurity practices. There are things that we can do personally to protect ourselves. No one else is going to do it. It’s all on us, and our ability to protect our space with good personal cybersecurity practices.
People over the age of 50 reported losses due to cybercrimes of over $1.1 billion. The preferred victims of cybercriminals are people age 60 or above. The number of losses is those that were reported, many incidents go unreported. These losses will rise as senior fraud scams continue to increase.
Cybercrimes Against Our Personal Area Network
Usually, cybercrimes are not intended to damage computer systems or our personal devices. On occasion, those types of crimes happen when they are motivated politically or are part of a cyberwar attack against a nation that is an adversary. This article will concentrate on cybercrimes that affect you and me personally. Whether the personal attacks are initiated by organized cybercriminals or novice hackers the threat to us is real.
We need to be concerned about our Personal Area Network (PAN). Our personal area network exists of several devices at any one time. Every device can be targeted by cybercriminals and hackers. As long as the device is connected to our personal area network it is a threat. We must stay diligent and use good personal cybersecurity practices in our daily lives.
Related article: How to Secure Your Personal Area Network
5 Types of cybercrime that can put your personal cybersecurity practices to a test
Cybercriminals that launch these types of attacks can be very creative. Most of today’s’ attacks are targeted at human weaknesses. Once again, good personal cybersecurity practices can prevent phishing attacks. Phishing attacks rely on scenarios like the following three situations:
- Distracted Users — While routinely checking emails a user opens an email or clicks a link without thinking.
- Fooled by a Spoofed Email — The recipient of the email is fooled by a cybercriminal impersonating a person or company that the user is familiar with. A simple request like clicking on a link or sending money may be completely normal if the email was really from someone known by the user, and not from a cybercriminal.
- Consumer hurrying to get a Discount — Users sometimes rush to click on a deal that is too good to pass up. In the excitement of the moment, they are fooled by clicking a link on a malicious website or in email.
People, not system vulnerabilities are often at the center of phishing attacks. Some 90% of all phishing attacks are initiated through email. Bad actors will leverage phishing attacks to steal users’ passwords and login information. Their goal is to gain access to financial accounts.
How to avoid phishing attacks
Always scrutinized any email that has links that are not expected. Be suspicious of email attachments. Phishing scams can sometimes be spotted by obvious spelling and grammar errors. Legitimate financial institutions don’t send sloppy emails. If you suspect a malicious message don’t leave it on your computer, always delete or quarantine it.
Ransomware is crimeware that is usually placed into a computer via a phishing attack or an exploit kit. Once the malware has infected your computer it attempts to encrypt one or more devices on the system. Then the user is typically demanded to pay a ransom to have the file unencrypted.
Protect against ransomware attacks and loss of data
Certainly taking all the safeguards you would for a phishing scam applies here. The best way to mitigate a ransomware attack, however, is to ensure you have one or more local and remote backups of your data. Backups must be done regularly. This is important because even if you pay the ransom, there’s only a small chance that the cybercriminal will decrypt your files for you. Remember, if you don’t open the email to start with there is no way to get infected.
There are many different types of Malware, including malware that targets a user’s personal and financial information. The cybercriminals behind the distribution of Malware are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. The real scary part is these cybercriminals are finding more effective methods of hiding the malware, making it very difficult for anti-virus and anti-malware programs to detect.
Malware is a multi-billion dollar dark web market. Cybercrime is driven by the rewards available, the amount of money that can be made. It’s a big dollar business and there is no limit to what the cybercriminals will do to maintain their profits. For them, there are many targets and essentially unlimited resources to tap into.
When Malware infects your device the attackers can use it to spy on you, capture your data, and infiltrate other systems. Malware is one of the biggest online threats and by applying good personal cybersecurity practices we may be able to mitigate the threat.
How to detect and protect yourself from Malware
Once again, we talk about good personal cybersecurity practices. The battle against Malware is a difficult one. The way you surf the Internet can be a factor. Beware3 of suspicious websites. Always check the security (HTTPS, not HTTP, S for Secure) of the website before clicking or tapping links. There may be times when your system is infected and you won’t know.
Don’t rely on typical anti-virus software to detect malware, and remove it. I use McAfee on my systems. It’s good software but sometimes is not capable of removing some Malware once detected. For this reason, I recommend using an anti-malware program like Malwarebytes. It is recommended for use by Microsoft. A nice feature of Malwarebytes is that it also scans webpages for malicious behavior and warns you if it is suspicious.
Identity Theft Scams
Once a cybercriminal obtains a few pieces of your sensitive information they may be able to fake your identity and commit identity fraud. They may apply for credit accounts in your name, file fake tax returns, and types of fraud that will disrupt your life. Once a victim of identity theft it is difficult to identify fraudulent accounts and then get everything straightened out.
How to protect yourself from identity theft
Always ensure you are visiting web pages that are secure. Do not reveal any personal or sensitive information while using social media sites. do not send sensitive information like social security numbers or banking details when using email. Be aware of suspicious emails from senders you do not know. Email is used by cybercriminals as a weapon in an attempt to not only deliver Malware but to initiate phishing attacks.
As cybercriminals become more creative and sophisticated the variety and types of scams and attacks increase. By using good personal cybersecurity practices you can spot and prevent being harm by a variety of scams. Cybercriminals may use a sense of urgency to get you to fall victim to their scam. They may also make offers that seem too good to be true. Beware of these types of emails and marketing campaigns.
Don’t get caught off guard. Don’t become complacent just because you have always avoided malicious attacks. When you least expect is when it will happen. Use best practices along with common sense to spot and avoid scams. The cybercriminals have the advantage. We must realize that.
A cybercriminal can automate attacks, performing thousands of attacks in fast sequence. They only need to be successful one time out of the thousands of attacks. We, on the other hand, need to be able to mitigate every one of the thousands of attacks.
We can’t protect ourselves from every threat out there. We can mitigate the threats that can do the most damage by using good personal cybersecurity practices. Always consider the value of the information or resource we are protecting.
For instance, when it comes to financial information and online banking accounts we need to take extra care. Creating and using strong passwords is a must. Read the following article for tips on securing your online banking accounts and best password practices.
Our Children are Targets Too
It is important that your children understand personal cybersecurity at an early age. They will be exposed to personal cybersecurity risks their entire life. The earlier your children understand personal cybersecurity and learn the best practices the sooner they can begin to develop the good habits that will keep them safe.
If you have children, here’s a poster you can download and post in their study and gaming area (Pdf format).
What Personal Cybersecurity Practices Does the NIST Recommend?
1) Careful with your personal data
2) Don’t Expose your identity
3) Protect and backup data
4) Detect successful attacks
5) Take action if hacked
6) Recover – know the steps ahead of time
Featured image by FreePik
Updated 01/19/2021 by Kirby Allen