What is cyber security?
Many people don’t give a second thought to cyber security, assuming it’s something best left to the experts, or that online security concerns are something corporate IT departments handle.
The unfortunate truth is that cyber attacks can occur on the devices you use every day, including mobile phones, tablets, and smart home devices like Alexa and Google Home.
As more and more of these devices work their way into our lives, it’s important to be aware of the types of attacks that can happen, how they can affect you, and the best ways to protect yourself.
At its simplest, cybersecurity is the act of protecting computers, servers, mobile devices, networks, and data from malicious attacks.
The attacks that can occur include:
malicious software (also known as "malware"), which allows a hacker to gain access to or damage your computer
ransomware, as its name suggests, is a malware used to extort money by blocking you from certain files or your whole computer system until you pay the ransom
social engineering, where hackers trick you into revealing sensitive information—e.g., your Social Security number or bank account information—by way of clicking on links, downloading malware, or trusting a malicious source
phishing, as in “fishing for information” by sending fake emails that look like they are from reliable, trusted sources with the goal of stealing personal information
Cyber security at home
You can shield yourself from identity theft, extortion attempts, and loss of data (like family photos or important documents) by:
protecting your devices and computer with the most up-to-date internet protection and antivirus software
staying aware of the potential for phishing schemes and avoiding unnecessary sharing of your private information
making sure that the organizations and companies that store your personal information have the proper cybersecurity instruments in place
Cyber security at work
A lot of these behaviors carry over to the office. Though you likely have an IT department that has security measures in place, make sure you:
are careful when using email because this is where phishing attacks happen
avoid forwarding emails that could be mistaken for a phishing attack
You may also choose to seek out basic training to minimize the human error that can contribute to a potentially disastrous cyberattack. Talk to your IT department or manager to see what might be available.
What’s next for cyber security?
Unfortunately, as technology becomes more ingrained in our lives, new threats to our cybersecurity will follow.
Experts see risks in the growing fields of AI, robotics, and 3-D printing as this so-called 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) fuses physical, digital, and biological technologies, leaving our most personal data vulnerable.
How can I stay ahead of cyber security threats?
Reading up on cybersecurity from reputable sources is the best way to stay informed. Here are a few predictions for 2019 from Security Magazine.
New types of attacks
- “Cryptojacking” is the illicit use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency; by working in the background, this causes lagging computer performance
- “Cryptocurrency ecosystem attacks” thwart transactions in a blockchain
- “Software subversion” is the exploitation of software flaws
New security measures
Identity solutions moving to the cloud
- Two-factor authentication for mobile devices
- Higher standards of excellence in data security for consumers
Some things are out of your hands, but for the areas where you can protect yourself and the systems you work with, it’s up to you to stay informed and keep yourself safe online.
Think you've been hacked? 3 quick steps to take
If you’ve ever gotten a call from your credit card company checking on potentially fraudulent charges, you may think hackers...
Stay protected from viruses with these key tips
If you’ve ever experienced frequent device crashes, slow performance, or mass emails fraudulently sent from...