That’s trillion with a capital “T”!
As we talk about extensively in our book, the new onslaught of computer cyber crime that we see almost every day on the news is a result of technology applications outpacing our ability to secure our information.
Another study shows that the amount of computer cyber crime happening on an annual basis will be so massive that we can’t even fill all the jobs we need to protect against it.
To say this is a huge problem would be a massive understatement. There are still investigations over the last presidential election, and whether Russian hackers interfered with the election via their own cyber attacks.
In that case, they used cyber crime to affect social media in an attempt to sway mass opinion. And honestly, they probably succeeded.
That sort of Cyber Crime is a little outside the scope of this article though.
Because as preparedness experts, what we care about is protecting innocent people from outside threats. And that includes how cyber crimes can harm you.
So, today we are going to give you 5 simple ways to lessen your chances of becoming a victim of cyber crime. We highly suggest you start implementing these steps today to keep you and your family’s information private and secure.
(Additional information on this topic can be found in our book.)
1) Use a double confirmation login whenever possible.
This is becoming the new standard way of logging into websites where you have an account, especially ones that have major security concerns (like banks).
If you’re confused by what a double confirmation is, all this means is that when you log in to a website, they will send you a confirmation code to your cell phone via text. You then enter this code into the prompt on the website and you can log in.
This is one of the best ways to secure your data because a cybercriminal will have to not only have your password but access to your phone in order to get into your account.
Not all websites have this feature, but places like PayPal, Amazon and your online bank should offer it. Get in touch with them and see what you have to do to set it up. It usually only takes a couple of minutes.
2) Don’t click on a link or download a file from any email you don’t recognize (and even ones you do).
This is one of the most popular ways for a cybercriminal to infect your computer with some nasty virus, like ransomware.
Oftentimes, the email will be outright obvious, with grammatical mistakes and the sender uses an address you don’t recognize at all.
But there are times when things might catch you off guard. Look at the picture below:
This is obviously a scam because you don’t receive emails from someone called “Apple ID” when it’s targeted toward your Apple ID. It just doesn’t work that way.
But imagine getting this in the middle of the day, after you’ve been bombarded with 100,000 social media requests, advertising messages, and your boss has been yelling about some stupid report that nobody takes seriously that didn’t get filed.
You’re exhausted and then - What?!?!?! I didn’t order this!
So you open it without thinking and …
Boom! You’re toast.
Bottom line, think before you click.
3) Check your social media regularly.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that red icon on top of my friend request button on Facebook appear and think “Nice! A new friend!”
I click it and it is some random guy from somewhere that I’ve never even heard of, and I have no mutual friends with him.
Okay, why is he wanting to connect with me? I don’t know him, I don’t have any friends in common, and by the looks of his name, we probably don’t even speak the same language.
Well, this happens all the time with hackers, because they are trying to follow your news feed and get personal details from you.
The amount of things Facebook knows about someone is ridiculous. They can narrow down an advertisement based on what kind of car you drive. So, imagine what this random person can find out about you. Think twice before you accept the request.
4) Get a trusty antivirus software for all your computers.
This should go without saying. Most computers will come with some sort of basic security software, but this doesn’t protect you from everything.
A good anti-virus software will let you know if something suspicious is happening on your computer that you need to take a look at. A really good one will get you in touch with a technician who will fix your computer when they detect something weird happening.
McAfee is a well-respected and reputable service provider for this sort of thing, and they offer some very affordable pricing options.
We highly recommend getting antivirus software for every computer in your home (and business).
5) Backup all your information on an external hard drive regularly.
An external hard drive is useful for multiple purposes, but when it comes to cybersecurity, we like this because it protects you against ransomware.
Ransomware is a program that downloads to your computer when you click on a link shared with you via email, a website, or anything else you access online. After it downloads, it locks your computer up and holds all of your information for ransom (hence the name) and demands that you have to pay this criminal money (sometimes millions of dollars) to get that information back.
Now, obviously a fortune 500 company is going to be more of a target for a massive attack with ransomware that will cost it millions of dollars, but individuals like you and I are targeted for this kind of thing all the time.
A very simple way to protect against this (besides not clicking on suspicious links) is to get an external hard drive.
You can get one of these for about $50 at your local electronics store and then use it to backup your information once a week.
That way, if this ever happens to you, you don’t have to lose all your information, you just get a new computer and upload the information stored on the hard drive. Problem solved.
Now, these 5 steps aren’t going to absolutely ensure nothing will ever happen to you. Cybercrime is constantly changing, and keeping yourself in the loop about these kinds of attacks is the best way to protect yourself.
You can also check out our book which goes into even more detail about cybercrime and other emergency preparedness information.