Cyber Security 101

Internet and technology are advancing. The number of new users enveloped in this interconnecting realm has increased to more than 366 million users. Daily internet users are growing at a fast rate of 11 users per second – which is about 1 million new users daily. With the intense rate that global connectivity is growing, risk against internet users is growing as well. In 2018, there were 46,752 victims of cybercrimes such as phishing, vishing, smishing, pharming, and

e-mail compromise. In order to combat this, the FBI established the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) in 2000. Since their foundation, the IC3 has received 4,415,870 reported complaints and a total loss of $7.45 Billion. Often, the target demographic for these cyber scams are elderly over the age of 60, however, as scammers are constantly evolving – no one is safe.

If you scour the internet, there will be hundreds of articles talking about cyber security and ways to combat it. We’ve taken the most commonly found tips and condensed them into a three-point cybersecurity “hack”:

1. You are as strong as your weakest link

Wireless printers, smart locks, smart speakers, security cameras, and end user devices can be tapped into. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Japan’s University of Electro-Communications encoded a light that is able to communicate with Alexa hundreds of feet away. Anyone with the motivation and the funds could easily attack a smart speaker from outside the house. In order to protect your home and your family, make sure to perform these critical steps:

  • Make sure that all of your user devices are password protected
    • Rule of thumb: passwords should be a minimum of 14 characters – a mix of lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols
    • Fun fact: In Apple computers, spaces count as a character in passwords
    • Change your password regularly – at least once a year 
  • Always update your security patches
    • It helps address vulnerabilities your computer may have 
  • Use anti-malware and anti-virus protection
    • It’s a strong belief that Mac computers block malware from coming in, but there are hackers that specialize in creating viruses for Mac Operating Systems (OS)

2. You can get hacked using public Wi-Fi

Every network connection you use – whether business owned, government operated, or airport owned – is a risky one. Many cybercrooks exploit public networks to invade end user devices. Here are some precautions when using public Wi-Fi:

  • Public Wi-Fi is not always your friend
    • Public Wi-Fi that lets you log on without a password probably isn’t the most secure option
    • Public Wi-Fi that has a generic name such as “Airport Free Wi-Fi” is most likely a trap set by a scammer
  • Use public Wi-Fi scarcely
    • Avoid trusting public Wi-Fi to do banking, purchasing, e-mail, or checking social media

3. Secure your data

Data security should be a top priority for everyone. There is nothing more damaging than having your personal information stolen, leaked, and used for someone else’s personal gain. Some techniques to protect data are:

  • Encrypting your data 
    • If you’re unsure of what is it – or wonder if you do it enough – you probably should do it
  • Two factor authentication
    • Two is better than one
  • Anti-malware and antivirus solutions
  • Data access privileges and identity management
    • Know who should have the appropriate access to the resources they need

These cybersecurity tips are just the tip of the iceberg. Hackers are advancing faster than technology and are becoming more dangerous as cities – and people – are adapting to the high-tech lifestyle. Educating yourself – and others – about the dark dangers of the web could potentially save your (ass)ets.