Guide To Personal Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity attacks result in millions of dollars in damages each year, affecting individuals and businesses alike. Experts predict that an attack happens every 39 seconds resulting in an average of 2,244 hacks daily. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has risen to roughly 4,000 hacks per day and may continue to rise as we approach the holiday season. 

A cyber attack can be detrimental to your personal finances or your business. Luckily, there are many precautions you can take to help ensure your information is safe — and if you know how to handle one if it does happen, you may even be able to prevent a devastating loss. 

To help you be more cyber aware, here are a few key things you need to know about cybersecurity. 

Who is Susceptible to a Cyberattack

No one is safe from experiencing a cyberattack unless you have never used an electronic device or given your information to someone who is using one. Any time you connect to Wi-Fi, enter your password on a website, make an online purchase, or give your information to a company, you’re opening yourself up to the risk of an attack. 

To give you a better idea of your odds, researchers have found that 1 in 4 people are likely to experience some type of cyber attack in their lifetime. In comparison, your odds of experiencing a home burglary are 1 in 50 and your odds of experiencing a tax audit are 1 in 100. The likelihood that you will experience a cyberattack is far greater than any other type of personal invasion. 

How to Protect Your Information

The key to keeping your data safe is taking all the precautions to protect it. Here are a few tips to help you do that:

  1. Keep your software up to date on your computer and your mobile device. New updates remove critical vulnerabilities that hackers have found to steal your information. 
  2. Use anti-virus protection and firewall to help fight attacks. 
  3. Choose strong passwords and update them often. 
  4. Adopt a two-factor authentication when logging into programs with sensitive information.
  5. Only connect to secure Wi-Fi and don’t allow others to connect to your personal network. 
  6. Be aware of phishing scams and think twice before opening a suspicious email.
  7. Never give your personal information over the phone or email to an unknown person.
  8. Back up your data often and keep it in multiple places — for example, your iCloud and an external drive.
  9. Review your online accounts and credit reports often and immediately report any suspicious activity. 

Common Types of Security Breaches

Now that you know how to help prevent an attack, it’s important to know what to look out for. Hackers get smarter every day and are coming up with new ways to access and steal your information. Sometimes, even human error can lead to a hack but with education and awareness, you can help reduce your risk. 

  • Malware — This is when hackers use spyware, viruses, or ransomware to attack you through a network vulnerability. Typically, this happens when you click a link or suspicious email, allowing them to break into your network and obtain your information.
  • Phishing — Have you ever seen a house or an apartment for a great price that seems too good to be true? Well, it probably is and it’s probably a result of phishing. This is when you see an ad or communication that seems to be from a reputable source. They try to get you to share your credit card information and steal your identity or your bank account. This type of hack is becoming more and more common, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Man-in-the-middle attack – Also known as an eavesdropping attack, this is when someone intercepts information in the middle of a transaction. This may happen when you’re on an unsecured network, and the hacker inserts themselves between the device and the network.
  • Denial-of-service attack — To do this, hackers exhaust a network through a series of attacks so the system can no longer fulfill legitimate requests. This often happens to businesses, and they can’t operate properly until it’s resolved and they risk losing all their customer data.

When to be on High Alert for a Cyberattack

Even though anyone can experience an attack at any time, there are a few key periods to be sure you’re taking the extra precautions to protect your information. 

  • When you’re using your mobile device or computer to make a purchase or money transfer. This should only be done when you are on a personal, secure network and you should only transfer money to someone you know. 
  • The holidays are a common time to see a rise in cyberattacks as more people are making purchases online and might be browsing sites they don’t typically visit. 
  • During an election period. In recent years, we’ve seen the number of cyberattacks rise during U.S. election periods, and usually from international hackers. It’s important to double-check your emails before opening them from an unknown source and never give your information out online to a stranger. 
  • If you’re sharing your medical information online with your provider, double-check who has access to it and where you’re sharing it. As more people opt for this type of service amid the pandemic, a number of fake medical sites have popped up and they’re stealing patient information. Check with your provider directly to ensure your information will be safe. 

We hope these tips help protect you and your information online. To learn more about how we can help protect you and your family, please visit our website to find an agent.