In a broader perspective, Cybersecurity means the practice of defending any data on electronic devices like computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems & networks from malicious attacks. These attacks are usually performed through various means ranging from malware-loaded apps & emails to fake websites.
Every year the global cyber threat continues to evolve rapidly, resulting in a continuously rising number of data breaches. Between Jan 1, 2020, and Dec 31, 2020, there have been 3,932 breaches reported. These amount to a massive 37 billion records exposed according to the 2020 Year End Data Breach QuickView Report by Risk Based Security. Also, the total number of records exposed increased by 141%.
Why Cybersecurity is more important than ever
The numbers are huge & only ever increasing. Owing to these risks, implementing strong cybersecurity measures is the key to secure information.
Our modern world is woven by technology. At its core, our society is extremely reliant on technology than ever before.
Also, with more & more industries adopting technology in their day-to-day activities, there is no way that this trend is going down.
However, with so many people & organizations getting online, the risk of cyberthreats only doubles up. The more we depend on the Internet, the more Cybersecurity is needed to be implemented in all forms.
a. Increase in Cybercrime
Over the years, cybercrime has increased and evolved to be very efficient at its job.
Like older days, email is still a favorite tool of cybercriminals to steal personal information through phishing attacks.
However, now along with emails, cybercriminals also use genuine-looking fake websites & even fake social media handles to extract sensitive personal information. This information is later used to access your bank details or credit card information.
Some even use ransomware attacks to encrypt all your devices or servers and can be unlocked only upon paying a ransom amount.
According to a report from McAfee and CSIS, Cybercrimes are expensive. Growing cybercrime attacks have cost the global economy more than $1 trillion. Furthermore, this figure is up more than 50 percent from 2018, and economic losses pegged at near $600 billion.
However, believing that cybercrime is limited only to big organizations and businesses is not true anymore. Today, almost everyone on the Internet has faced a cyber-attack attempt in some way or the other.
There are chances your data is breached by some apps that were hacked into by cybercriminals.
Almost all of these attacks end up in financial losses in some or other ways.
b. Growth in the number of IoT connected devices
With advancing & easily accessible technology, the number of IoT devices globally is forecasted to almost triple in number from 8.74 billion in 2020 to more than 25.4 billion IoT devices in 2030, according to Statista.
Though IoT devices are used in all industries, the consumer segment accounts for around 60 percent of all IoT-connected devices.
However, as IoT devices continue to grow in popularity, cyber risks will also increase in equal proportions. Medical and industrial network devices have been major targets of Ransomware in the year 2020.
A larger number of internet-connected devices mean a larger number of entry points being made available for hackers to sneak into the network.
Incidences like cybercriminals spying over your personal space or locking you out of your own house might be a common thing soon if adequate care is not taken.
Common Cybersecurity threats
Cyber threat, in a nutshell, is any threat posed to personal, social, or organizational data through leakages caused on any network or electronic device for financial gains or to cause systematic disruption. There are various types of threats that cybercriminals implement to gain access to this data.
Some of the most common cyber threats are as below:
Malware is one of the most common types of cyber threats. It is a piece of malicious software that disrupts or damages any user’s device.
The most common vehicles include unsolicited email attachments, genuine-looking download links, or malicious code hidden in apps.
It is a subset of malware. When executed, Ransomware completely encrypts & locks down all the files and data on a device.
Further, cybercriminals demand a ransom amount to unlock the data with the threat of erasing it unless paid. Ransomware usually targets organizations with sensitive & important organizational data saved on servers or devices.
3. DoS and DDoS Attacks
DoS or Denial of Service attack works to make any web resource unavailable to its users by flooding the target URL with more requests than the server can handle. A Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attack is also a type of DoS attack; however, it originates from more than one source at the same time.
A DDoS attack typically originates from thousands of unsuspecting zombie machines or Botnets. A botnet is a system that is previously infected with malicious code & can be remotely controlled by the attacker to fulfill his plan.
This flooding of requests causes the servers to crash, causing regular traffic on the website to either slow down or get completely disrupted. It can be very harmful to organizations who financially dependent on their websites being functional around the clock.
Common examples include e-commerce sites, booking agencies, sports streaming services, and similar businesses.
Phishing is a type of cybercrime in which the hacker sends out an email that looks to be coming from a legitimate source. If the user gets tricked into believing the same, he might share sensitive information with the hacker.
Most phishing attacks are often used to convince people to hand over their credit card data, bank details, or other personal or financial information.
5. SQL Injections
SQL or structured language query is the heart of any database used by thousands of organizations worldwide. Cybercriminals can inject an SQL into the database through a malicious SQL statement & succeed in taking control of and stealing data from it.
They usually do it by exploiting common vulnerabilities in data-driven applications to gain access to the sensitive information contained in the database.
6. Man in the Middle
As the name fairly suggests, a man-in-the-middle attack is where a man or hacker sits in between you & your online data destination. The cybercriminal intercepts your communication between two nodes to steal sensitive data.
The most common example of a man-in-the-middle attack happens when you use public unsecured Wi-Fi networks to access the Internet.
7. Password attacks
A password attack is when a hacker works towards stealing your password. Password attacks are one of the most common forms of corporate and personal data breach attempts worldwide.
A lot of methods are used for password attacks like keyloggers, phishing emails, or fake websites.
Cybersecurity Best Practices
1. Cybersecurity Awareness
When more than 80% of cybercrimes happen due to human error, awareness around the issue is one of the most important steps towards ensuring complete Cybersecurity. Organizations should conduct training and sessions to highlight the significance of every end-point user and the responsibility he carries towards data handling.
Similarly, individual users should keep themselves updated with the latest cyber threats and steps to prevent them.
2. Keep all Programs and OS Updated
Hackers are usually looking for vulnerabilities in older programs or operating systems that they can easily exploit and enter the network or device. OEMs monitor their apps and roll out updates to counter these gaps.
Make sure that all the software that you use on each of your devices always runs on the latest version to prevent cyberattacks facilitated through them.
3. Use Password Manager
Even today, 123456 is the most commonly used password in the world. Weak passwords are one of the easiest ways cybercriminals can get into your network or device. Generating & remembering strong & unique passwords is complex. To simplify this, you can use password managers.
They will help you with both generating & entering passwords wherever you require without the risk of leakages.
4. Beware of email phishing scams.
Whenever you come across any emails that ask you to enter your sensitive information or log-in credentials, make sure that you check for the origin & destination of the email. Take some time to investigate before you enter & send across any details through them.
If you learn that you’ve received a phishing email, make sure to report that mail & delete it to prevent any further damage.
5. Invest in a good Cybersecurity solution
Even when you take utmost care to prevent cyber threats, the ever-evolving nature of these attacks can outrun you & cause damage beyond control.
Investing in a good cybersecurity solution ensures that your networks and devices are always completely protected beyond your knowledge.
It ensures that your system can fight cyberattacks by continually monitoring & taking preventive or defensive action wherever required.
When installing, look for a good cybersecurity app with advanced features like Anti-Ransomware, Parental Controls, Firewall, and Anti-Spyware protection tools.
Some trusted antivirus/antimalware apps you can install are Bitdefender Total Security, Avast Antivirus, Kaspersky Total Security, and Norton 360, to name a few. Please make sure you use the free trial versions of the antivirus that you wish to purchase. You can buy it from the Official Website or from software discount stores that offer the best discounts on security software.
6. Enable Firewall Protection
Make sure that your firewall protection is always “turned-on” on your system. It will prevent hackers from gaining access to your network by blocking any external unidentified connection requests.
7. Stay safe on public Wi-Fi with a VPN
A public unsecured Wi-Fi connection is unsafe to use. There are many chances that your browsing history or data exchange is monitored or recorded by a third party.
A cybercriminal can eavesdrop on your sensitive information exchanged over the network, including bank details or credit card information.
One sure way of preventing this is to use a VPN. A VPN will encrypt all your incoming and outgoing data to prevent any data theft attempts. Surfshark VPN is often recommended for its affordable price, features, and unlimited device support. you can check some best VPN deals here
8. Mobile Device Security
Today, almost all of us have smartphones & tablets that we use to connect to the Internet for various purposes. We use our mobile devices for many reasons, from sending emails to doing bank transactions and uploading your pictures on social media.
Ensure that all your mobile devices have the latest security apps installed on them to assure complete security.
9. Back up your data regularly
In the worst-case scenario that you lose all your data on a device to any form of cyberthreat, backing up your data will benefit you. Regularly creating data back-ups will give you an advantage in the long run by keeping all your data intact from criminals.
With the advent of modern technology, the world has come closer than ever. However, the risk of cyberthreats has also increased in equal proportions.
Take out time to ensure that you practice safe browsing and have taken all the essential steps for being completely cyber safe.