Every week, we hear new reports of new cyber breaches and the exploitation of security flaws. Internet connected activities are as susceptible to cybercrime as physical crime, and both can lead to severe damages and lasting negative consequences. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the individual to protect themselves and their families against cybercrimes through safe online practices.
Cybercrime Prevention Strategies
Preventing cybercrime is not an easy task, however cybercrime prevention can be achieved relatively rapidly and in a cost-effective way. The following tips help prevent cyber attacks:
Install the latest patches and updates
By regularly updating your computer operating system with the latest patches and other software fixes when they become available, you can block attackers from taking advantage of software flaws that would otherwise compromise your system.
Keeping your computer up-to-date renders it much more difficult for cyber criminals to gain access to your system. Although updates alone do not guarantee protection, they block several basic and automated attacks completely and may discourage a less-determined hacker to look for a more vulnerable computer somewhere else. Fortunately, most Windows-based systems can be configured to download software patches and updates automatically.
Choose strong passwords… and protect them
Choosing a password, meaning one that is not easily guessed, is the first step towards keeping passwords secure and out of the wrong hands. Strong passwords use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters or symbols (such as ?, @, $ and &). Any type of personal information or dictionary words should be avoided.
A different password should be used for each service used; although this makes it more difficult to manage your online accounts, it is well-worth the effort. Passwords should be changed regularly so as to limit the damage caused by someone who has already gained access to one account. It is essential to store passwords in a safe place. If you suspect that one of your online accounts may be hacked, one of the first steps to take is to change your password.
Shred old or unwanted paperwork
Any paperwork that contains personal details should be shredded or made illegible before discarding or recycling it. Criminals can go through your trash to recover sensitive information such as receipts and letters from banks that they can use online.
Protect your personal information
Refrain from revealing personal confidential information in the public domain, for example social media websites. Overexposure can lead to social engineering, whereby attackers gather small bits of personal information from several portals, such as Twitter and Facebook, to launch an attack.
Although absolutely not divulging any personal information is rarely possible, the following is a checklist for how to share personal information safely online:
- Pay attention to privacy policies on websites and in software
- Steer away from fraudulent websites used to steal personal information
- Keep an eye out for phony email messages – do not open email attachments unless you are certain that they are authentic
- Do not respond to email messages that ask for personal information
Be social media savvy
Check your security setting to ensure that your social networking profiles (such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) are set to private. Once information is posted online, it is extremely difficult to remove it!
Cybercrime: No Intention of Slowing Down
As the technology evolves, so does cybercrime. This exposes new vulnerabilities which attackers can exploit, therefore implementing the rightful preventative measures is essential to stay one step ahead of attackers. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series where we will discuss further methods to protect against the ongoing threat of cybercrime.
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