The foundation of cyber security is being aware that any of us can be the victim of a cyber attack. How can this happen? By clicking on an infected link, opening an email from an unknown source, downloading malware, and by browsing websites not secured with an SSL certificate. Cyber security is a set of strategies that are designed to provide protection from being hacked. Find out how not to get scammed.
Cyber security is not just information security, it is a broad term that also includes programs, data, or paper documents. It is a shield that protects us in the digital age, especially as the spectrum of devices we use to browse the Internet continues to expand. We store a great deal of sensitive data on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. In most cases, they are the only sources of information about ourselves, an integral part of our private as well as business lives.
According to the FBI, the most common crime in the U.S. in 2020 was phishing. What are its characteristics? It is a method by which cybercriminals phish for sensitive data such as, for example, logins and passwords, credit card numbers and more. They impersonate, among others, courier companies, public administration offices, telecommunication operators or even our friends, trying to extort data. The name phishing evokes a sound association with fishing – that is, catching fish. This is because criminals, like anglers, use properly prepared “bait”. Phishing is most often observed in fake e-mails with invoices or SMS messages, where criminals pretend to be commonly recognized companies and institutions. Phishing emails are crafted by cybercriminals to look authentic but are actually fake.
Here are 5 basic principles of cyber security:
- Always check the sender of an email or text message – the smallest typo could be evidence of fraud. If the message contains an invoice to be paid, it is a good idea to go to the sender’s official website, contact them and ask if such a message has actually been sent before pursuing it.
- Guard your cards, logins, and passwords – never disclose your card number, logins/passwords or PESEL number in an email or on a website that you think is suspicious (especially if you have previously paid a bill on a different-looking site) or to an unknown person on social media.
- Set complex passwords – always secure your devices as well as your accounts with a complex password that consists of letters, numbers, and characters – also use multi-factor authentication. If you have trouble remembering such a password, use an app that will do it for you, such as 1Password or Apple’s built-in “Keychain” feature.
- Do not use open Wi-Fi networks – when connecting to networks, use only secure and private ones. If you have the option, buy a VPN subscription, and use it every time you go online. VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a solution that masks all connections by routing them through a VPN server. It creates a “tunnel” through which information exchanged between the user’s computer and the Internet travels. There is only one exit and entrance, and it cannot be accessed “from the side,” making a cyber attack impossible. If you use public Wi-Fi, remember that anyone can connect to it. Never log into your bank accounts or other sites with sensitive information while using an open network.
- Turn off Bluetooth when you are not using it – if hackers detect your Bluetooth connection, they can get inside your device. Do not connect to strangers and do not accept files/photos from unknown sources via Bluetooth. If the device connected to your phone is lost, immediately remove it from the list of paired accessories.
Following these few rules will help keep you safe online. Remember, learning about this topic and being vigilant is the first step to not becoming a victim of a cyber attack. The ever-increasing online activity is a great opportunity for cybercriminals. Phishing for data or money is becoming more and more common. We can prevent this from happening, we just need to follow the above rules and be vigilant, as criminals are getting more and more inventive and finding new ways to get what they want.