A look at the newest threats posed to you on the internet and how you can stay safe.
It’s 2016 and the internet continues to evolve as more and more people and even some inanimate objects come online. Think about it, you can buy refrigerators and vacuum cleaners that are linked into the internet now. The internet of things, which sounds like a bad 90’s VHS, is very real and continues to grow each and every day.
And with the growth of the internet comes the growth of hacking and cybercrime. Since the advent of the internet hackers have been hiding in the shadows looking to exploit weaknesses for their own personal gain. And despite massive gains on the information security front, cybercrime is always a half-step ahead.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest Information Security Threats facing us in 2016 along with some tips on how you can stay safe. Some are old. Some are new. But all of them will be prevalent this year and without a little bit of knowledge and a lot of precaution, you could find yourself being victimized by any one of them.
Let’s take a look:
Retail Data Hacks
Retail Data Hacks are nothing new. Every year hackers cause breaches to major chains and large internet retailers in the hopes of stealing valuable credit card data that can be sold on the black market or used for personal gain. From the standpoint of these retailers, it’s important that they encrypt everything and keep the most up-to-date security implementations possible, but as a customer you can take steps to stay safe too. Namely, you can request a pin and chip card from your bank to replace your traditional debit card. These chip cards are much more secure than their predecessors and can help prevent having your information stolen by any malicious third parties.
You use your mobile device for everything nowadays. From surfing the internet to checking your bank accounts, mobile devices have become ubiquitous in today’s society. Unfortunately, mobile devices are not always the most secure. There are a number of ways you can stay safe on your mobile device. For instance, make sure to activate encryption options on your phone. Only download apps from trustworthy sources like the Apple store or Google Play Store. Stay off of unsecure WiFi networks. And most of all, download an antivirus app to scan your phone regularly.
Phishing is a practice where hackers send you an email or a link in the hopes of stealing personal information. One of the most common phishing tactics is the infamous “Nigerian Prince” email, in which a hard-on-his-luck Nigerian Prince offers you a large payment if you can just give him some personal information or even a little bit of money to help him get back on his feet. Nowadays, phishing is much more sophisticated with hackers building entire fake websites aimed at manipulating people into giving away precious personal information like banking numbers or passwords. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for phishing. You just have to be vigilant. Never open attachments from unknown senders. Don’t provide personal details on sites that aren’t properly authenticated and, when in doubt, don’t respond at all.
Identity Theft can be the result of any of the aforementioned items on this list. You can lose your identity in a phishing attack, it can be stolen in a data breach or someone could hack your phone. Either way, once your identity has been stolen you really won’t care so much how it happened as how you can fix the problem. There are lots of tips to help keep your identity safe. From physical tips like always shredding documents with personal information on them, to cyber tips like avoiding suspicious websites and never giving out personal information over unencrypted channels, you can never be too careful.
Healthcare Data Hacks
One of the most famous Healthcare data Hacks occurred in 2015 when Anthem was hacked and over 78 million medical records were exposed. If you think about it, the healthcare system is a great access point for hackers because medical records contain tons of personal information, everything from social security numbers and addresses to financial records. Unfortunately, aside from monitoring the news there’s not a lot you can do to protect yourself from this threat. The medical field is already mandated to use SSL encryption and spends millions of dollars each year on a comprehensive information security strategy. It’s just that sometimes a breach happens.
Attacks on Banks
This is another cyber threat that individuals may not be able to do a lot about. Every year the Banking Industry is one of the premier targets of cyber criminals and every year you hear about one or two successful hacking attempts. This isn’t to worry you though. Banks spend top dollar on security solutions like SSL encryption, threat assessment, malware scanning and all range of other information security products. And thankfully, if you’re in the US, your money is insured by the FDIC. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be vigilant and stay on top of your accounts anyway—just to be on the safe side.
==>Additional Information Security Tips
As we’ve said, some of these threats are capable of being mitigated by you, personally. Others are not in your control. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still take every precaution. Here are five additional tips to help you stay safe in 2016.
1. Use Strong Passwords
This one is pretty obvious but you’d be surprised how many people go with something easy to remember (like, say, “password”) instead of something safe. Use passwords that include sequences of numbers, letters and symbols. Your password shouldn’t be easy to guess.
2. Don’t Open Suspicious Emails or Attachments
Duh! If you don’t know the sender or the file extension, chances are they’re not safe.
3. Destroy Sensitive Documents
We already alluded to this, but if a document contains sensitive information you should probably shred it before disposing of it.
4. Use a VPN to Secure Your Internet Connection if You’re on Public WiFi
Public WiFi is notoriously unsafe. Hackers prey on the unsuspecting masses at places like airports and coffee shops. Always use your VPN to add a layer of much-needed security when on a public WiFi network.
5. Keep Your Antivirus Software Up to Date
Another obvious tip that many people don’t follow. Sure downloading new updates may be a pain. But in the two minutes it takes you to do it, you’re keeping yourself safe.