Whatever you do online, whether on your phone, tablet, PC or laptop, always prioritize your privacy and security.
Cybercrime has increased over the years and they are moving with technology, using sophisticated method that many have failed to defend themselves.
Before we discuss how to protect yourself online, may you be patient enough to read recent Cybercrimes below so that you have a bit of understanding of how this article requires your attention? Thank you so much.
Cybercrime statistics released in August 2018, showed that cybercrime is increasing at an alarming rate.
According to Revisionlegal.com, a law firm, cybercrime is a threat and has remained very constant over the past years. This means the trend is not changing if fact there is an increase.
The quantity of data breaches is very alarming and the number of customers falling victim to these cybercriminals is staggering. The attacks have a devastating effect on businesses and the situation is even worse to customers.
Let’s take a look at a few firms, businesses and individuals who were affected by cybercrime, just to give you a glimpse of how dangerous these cases are. Remember the cases are countless, we are mentioning just a drop here.
Take a lesson from these recent incidents
- hackers invaded the computer system of Health South-East RHF, a healthy organization that manages a number of hospitals in Norway, in the South East region. Data like videos, documents, photos, names, addresses and many more were stolen. The number of patients affected by this attack totaled above 2.9 million, which is almost half the population of Norway. To read the report click here
- In February 2018, Jorgie Porter, an English model, and actress were hacked, the hackers managed to stole her intimate pictures and videos and posted them online. The intention was not even known. Though sometimes these hackers steal for profiteering, it is not always the case, as they can hack just for destruction and punish.
- Another incident happened in late February 2018, MyFitnessPal, discovered a huge data breach that affected above 150 million users. MyFitnessPal is Under Armour’s Application and website. Under Armour is involved in sports and Apparel fitness. Stolen were emails, names, addresses etc. Read the report here
- On March 16, 2018, the Nationa Lottery of the United Kingdom discovered and reported that 10,5 million users’ data was hacked and advised all its users to change their passwords to avoid further damage. The company was only able to notify later that 150 users’ accounts were accessed. Here is the full report
As I mentioned, there are many of these incidents happening every day and what is more worrisome is, almost all these cases are discovered at a later date after the hackers have accomplished their mission.
Even after discovering the data stolen and its importance, there is little being done to stop further damage or to prevent future similar cases.
How do cybercriminals make money with this information?
It cannot be denied that, nowadays, everything we do is online, from buying cars, phones, paying bills, groceries and many more. We are living in a digital world where almost everything is done online, Gthe global economy has turned digitally.
Cybercriminals as well have noticed the trend and saw it as the quickest and easiest way they can steal people’s money
So, you must prioritize your personal safety whenever you are on the internet. Personal safety includes the steps you take to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of crime.
When using your smartphone, make sure you use some of these Applications or settings for privacy and security
In terms of making money, there are various ways cybercriminals make money with the information they stole from you. Below are some of them.
- Illicit online market-they can sell stolen data like photos, videos, names, contacts, addresses and documents to different dark websites.
- Ransomware-Using this method, cybercriminals encrypts access to your data, to have access to your data, you will have to pay them huge sums of cash. Its a way of extorting money.
- Paid for service- cybercriminals can be hired and paid considerable amounts of money to hack your machine for your data
- Fake Auctions using a stolen identity to hold fake auctions, stealing other people’s money
- Emails and social media accounts– social media and emails are tools they use to spread ransomware and obtain other connections, illegally. You must carefully observe even your Whatsapp, read here, to understand how someone can spy on you, using your Whatsapp.
- Crypto-jacking-This is a new method used by cybercriminals to hack another person’s computer system to use it to mine bitcoin. Using this method, cybercriminals can run your computer for many years without you even noticing it.
- Webcams-this trick enables the hacker to have total control of your laptop, phone or PC. This type of hacking is usually known as “Ratter“, whereby the hacker gain the remote access to your machine using Remote Administration Tool, (RAT). IT experts encourage the use of stickers to cover the webcam, Mark Zuckerberg the founder and CEO of Facebook, admitted using the same trick.
There are countless ways, cybercriminals can monetize the data they stole. According to a recent study, though cybercrime is an emerging criminal economy, it is generating at least $1.5 trillion every year. Read the full report here. In the real world, there is absolutely no traditional crime making lucrative money like this.
According to the study, individual cybercriminals have 10-15% higher earnings than traditional criminals.
On Average, cybercriminals Earnings per individual per month
- High earners are averaging $166,000 per month
- middle earners $75,000 per month
- Low earners, $3500 per month
10 Ways you can protect yourself online
1. Trust no stranger online
The internet is good when you are very careful of what to do and who to interact with when online. It is advisable to trust people you know. When on social media, don’t grow that habit of accepting any friend request that comes your way.
Catfishing cases have increased over the years. Catfishing is when a person, with the intention of extorting money, creates a fake online account. These cases are common on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or dating sites.
Catfishers can run a relationship/friendship for some months before they ask you for money. Cases of this nature have resulted in a loss of thousands of dollars.
Simply avoid Catfishing by not accepting friendship requests from people you don’t know
2. Don’t make public all your personal information
Personal Information like your date of birth, Address, your mother’s maiden name, even your pets’ names or any other personal related information must not be made public on social platforms. You can protect your personal information by not writing divulging it on your online accounts.
If your social accounts have such information like this, then, just spare a minute and go delete it now.
3. Use passwords
This is the most common way of securing one’s mobile phone or computer from unauthorized use. However, most people use a simple password like first, second or middle names, date of birth, child’s name, company’s name, address or anything that is related to them. This will make it easy for anyone to guess.
Try to avoid this and find unique passwords, with a combination of digits, letters symbols and mix lower and upper cases. Use a password that has as many as 12 characters. Additionally, try not to use the same password on many accounts. Also, change the password two or three times per year. To help you remember passwords you can use password managers. Read more here
4. Avoid sweetie online offers
Most scammers use the technique of offering huge awards or prizes in exchange for your personal information. Your personal information is your identity and can’t be exchanged for anything.
All the online offers that demand your personal information before giving you anything are scams. When asked for your details, ask contact details of the person contacting you as well as checking and validate the company behind the offer, it worth the time.
In most cases, if the person requesting for your personal information is bogus, when asked many questions about their legitimacy, they stop pushing you into an immediate decision.
5. Use VPN
Ever worried about your safety and privacy? Worried about ISP spying? or maybe you feel that your next door is hacking your internet? VPN answers all those questions. Again, VPN can give you privacy and security even on public WiFi.
VPN uses trusted encryption techs like IPsec, Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). The aim of VPN is to create a virtually invisible tunnel for traffic movement between the VPN server and your actual device.
When your traffic is in VPN tunnel, no one can access your information except you, making it difficult for those who want to track you, monitor your movements and what you are doing difficult.
VPN can also be used to access content restricted into a specific region. Again, you can switch live streaming to watch services like Hulu and Netflix.
You may need to be prepared to part with your money in order to have the best VPN on your PC, laptop or mobile phone
6. Look for encryption
When submitting information like credit cards number, bank information, and other sensitive information, make sure the browser you are using is well encrypted. Avoid submitting sensitive information on websites that have HTTP connection instead of HTTPS. The “s” in front of HTTPS stands for “secure“. It must not be ignored when sending confidential information that includes your credit card details and Bank information.
The “secure” feature and the “lock” sign ensures your information from the browser and the website is safe.
So when the website has the HTTP type of encryption, don’t send your personal information, for it may be hacked.
Antivirus is originally designed to detect and fight viruses on computers, hence their name. Abbreviated as AV, Antivirus software doesn’t get rid of viruses only on the computer but they can also detect other computer threats like Trojan horses, worms rootkits, phishing attacks etc.
On your PC, laptop or mobile phone, it is always advisable to install and run an updated Antivirus to ensure your machine is safe from these attacks.
8. Avoid clicking on Emails you do not recognize
Before opening any email on your mobile phone or computer, make sure you know the sender. Hackers, nowadays are sophisticated, that they can send you a fake email that contains malware (a malicious piece of code).
If you don’t know email’s origin, avoid clicking it, and if you can, delete it, then don’t hesitate. Clicking unknown emails could lead to “phishing” and your passwords, usernames, could be stolen.
Pay attention to any email you receive, don’t be in a rush to click on them. Avoid emails that promise to give you thousands of dollars from nowhere. Keep in mind that in this age, wealthy only comes after hard work.
When browsing the web, avoid clicking on pop-ups, hackers are also using pop-ups to install malware in your phones and computers. The moment you click on the pop up you are simultaneously installing the malicious piece of code on your device. When installed on your device, it can go on to encrypts all your data and you cannot decrypt the code unless you pay a certain amount to the hackers-this type of hacking is called ransomware
9. Enable two-factor authentication
Also, known as login approval and two-step verification. This is another layer of security, using this security feature, you are required to verify if you are the real owner of the account by entering a security code or email address in a different device than the one you will be using.
With the increase in cases of hacking, cybercriminals have found it easy to harvest passwords and usernames, so two-factor authentication is there to provide another better level of security.
This security mechanism is a combination that validates if you are the real owner of the given account using two things, something that you have, eg phone, laptop, PC and something you know like passwords and email. After entering the username and password, you will be required to verify it on your phone or PC.
10. Don’t save your financial information on shopping sites
No one, no site can handle your personal information than yourself. You must note that even popular sites can be hacked, so after you buy something from a certain site online, remove all your personal information from the site. It worth it to spend a minute or so, filling in your details whenever you want to buy something online
Many online shops have an option to save all your personal details, credit card information, address etc, it is done to make it easy for you the next time you may want to buy from the same site, however, this can be used as a loophole to steal your details by hackers. Go to all your online shops, if you have left your personal details, then consider removing them
What do you think? Are you taking the right step to secure your personal information online?
We are living in a digital world where anyone’s information, if not handled very carefully, can be found on the web, take an extra step to secure your personal information. Be cautious of the browser you use, the laptop, phone, for it can be used to harvest your details that can be later used to extort your money.
Thank you so much for taking your time reading this article. If it interests you, just help your friend by sharing this article. Again if you have any question, feel free to drop it in the comment box below and I will be more than happy to help you.