Like a bank robber, cybercriminals target where the money is, and that every so often means banks and financial institutions. With many years’ experience in defending themselves against crime, banks and insurance companies are believed to have good physical and technical cybersecurity defenses in place. It is critical to note that, nobody needs to rob a bank with a gun anymore, not when they can do it with a computer from the safety and comfort of their own homes! The concept of currency however, has changed, now, rather than trying to gain the quick buck, cyber thieves seek to steal valuable information.
The increased threat of cybercrime has spiked interest on the topic of cybersecurity, with billions spent on protection against a fast-evolving threat landscape. While majority of spending attributes to monitoring, surveillance and software; it is often neglected that the biggest threat is created by the Human, and in this digital age, that means you and me.
As often stated, there are two types of people, the one who has been hacked, and the one who doesn’t know he’s been hacked. Cybersecurity defense mechanisms can only ever be as strong as its weakest link. The biggest vulnerabilities of a system are not necessarily found within the hardware or software, but rather with the person using it.
Numerous cybersecurity reports state that approximately 95% of cybersecurity breaches occur due to human error. Further to this, more than half of all security attacks are triggered by individuals who had insider access to IT systems. Deterrence, detection and prevention technology, no matter how sophisticated, will always be restricted by the ‘Human’ factor. Realistically, who is the real threat? It is you and I, the ‘trusted employee’, that is often the cause of any major data breach, whether we are aware or not.
As with most illegal activities a hacker will always aim for the softest target, the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ and unfortunately, when it comes to cybersecurity, that usually means us, ‘the user’.
Why are we the target?
We are helpful in nature, we live in a world where our good nature is often exploited by hackers to gain access to information for malicious intent. In the same way, we teach children to look left and right before crossing a street, people need to understand how to evaluate the risk of ‘assisting’ an unknown party, by giving them information or access that could be harmful.
People are preyed on by hackers for simply being human, without realizing we’re doing it, we fall into regular habits that hackers can exploit to gain access to our systems. When asked, how many robots you passed on your way to work, it is imaginable that you would not know the answer. Similarly, when elements of our jobs or lives become routine, we become less aware of what and why we do certain things. This can be incredibly dangerous, as this lack of mindfulness can lead to accidents and leaks of our personal information.
As the operator of your computer, you are the first line of defense. It is now your job to protect your data and personal information, not just the IT personnel’s. If you feel under prepared or overwhelmed for the task at hand, then perhaps you should look online as there is now a huge amount of up to date research available which can get you quickly up to speed on current cybercrime threats and trends.
How can I be protected?
Everyone must accept responsibility for our own safety and security online, to avoid becoming a victim of cyber-crime. Individuals need to be aware of the of tactics used by criminals trying to gain personal information online, by means of safe online practices.
A few tips on how to stay safe online:
Use secure websites – Check whether the website you are using is secure, make sure the URL begins with "https”. This ensures that the site you are using encrypts log-in information before sending it to the server, thus keeping it safe from hackers.
Clean out your device – If your device is connected to the Internet, keep it free of malware infections. Ensure you're running up-to-date security software, operating systems and applications this is important, because application updates often include security advances.
Unique, strong passwords - Create passwords that you can remember, that's tough for others to guess. Lock your mobile devices and tablets with passcodes. Thirty percent to half of users have not enabled a password or PIN on their mobile devices.
Evade social engineering – Do not click on any unfamiliar links! An antenna should go up if a pop-up threatens you to act immediately or else.
Clean up your online presence - How much of your data is public? What do you post about yourself—location, habits, plans? Revealing where you're taking your holiday or turning on the tracker enables identity theft.
Back up your content – Ransomware, malware that places restrictions on a computer that can be lifted only when payment is made, is one of the latest developments in hacking. Backing up files to the cloud (securely stored with a password) or on an external hard drive will help keep them safe, even if those on a computer is deleted.