Cybercrime is estimated to cost the UK £27bn a year. As technology rapidly increases so does the nature of cyber-attacks as well as the rate of their occurrence, pushing this figure even higher. From opportunists trying to gain passwords through ‘phishing’ tactics, to highly organised crime units targeting businesses and government systems in an effort to steal intellectual property and key information, one thing is clear; Cybercrime is getting bigger and more complex.
It doesn’t help that we make it easy. The sharing culture embedded in today’s society is one where we are so relaxed about documenting our personal details here, there and everywhere, that we have enabled cybercriminals to become far more adept at crafting attacks, targeting individuals and organisations. On a daily basis, millions of social media users are spoon-feeding criminals information such as where they live, their place of work, date of birth, personal interests and where they are at any given time. Individuals are also unaware of the signs that indicate insecure websites or fraudulent emails.
Below are steps that can be taken to increase security and help protect individuals from becoming a victim of cybercrime:
1. Email links and pop- ups
Criminals infect PCs with malware (malicious software such as viruses) by tempting users to click on a link within an email or an attachment or on a pop up ad. The difficulty with well-executed emails and advertisements is that they can be almost indistinguishable from genuine ones. Openness of social media has allowed criminals easily to target people by crafting messages they think you’d most likely open. Obvious spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are often key determinants of a spam email – if you’re ever in doubt, don’t open it!
2. Anti-virus software
Thousands of new strains of malware are developed and delivered every day. Anti-virus software is unable to detect all malware all of the time but can act as strong protection against viruses, making computers more secure and is another step to enhancing your security online. Whilst some are charged for, there are good, free products available from reputable companies.
3. Social media awareness
There are two main things that users can do to protect themselves against identity fraud when it comes to social media:
- Don’t accept social media invitations from people you don’t know. It will most likely be someone who has created a fake profile with the view to commit identity fraud by taking your information.
- Make your profile as secure as possible, keeping information to a bare minimum. There are privacy settings on most social media sites that allow you to select who sees your personal information. If you feel it necessary to document your life history online, only share it with those who you know.
4. Shop on secure sites
Sites that are secure will usually have two tell-tale signs:
- The online retailer’s address will change from the ‘http’ format to ‘https’ to indicate a secure connection.
- The browser will contain a locked padlock in the address bar to show that the site is secure.
Being aware of the type of cyber-attacks out there and the steps the can be taken to prevent such attacks will inevitably lead to individuals questioning the levels of security in their business. If you would like to know more about what your business can do to increase its cyber security and awareness, get in touch!