Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats of 2016 and How to Defend Yourself

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Cybersecurity threats are an unfortunate aspect of the internet and there’s no sign that they’re going away any time soon. In fact, hackers are becoming more creative because of new technology. Ransomware, which had never affected Apple’s products in the past, has recently made its way onto Mac computers.
As you can imagine, that stirred up a lot of trouble for Apple’s customers. It broke Apple’s record of having a completely ransomware-free operating system (OS) and there’s no telling how it may affect their business within the coming years. Unfortunately, that’s certainly not the only cybersecurity threat you’ll need to be on the lookout for this year.
You can prevent cyberattacks on your devices. So you’ll know what to keep an eye out for, here are some of the biggest cybersecurity threats anticipated in 2016 and ways to protect yourself:

Ransomware

Though we’ve already brushed on the topic of ransomware, not everyone is aware of what it actually is or how it presents itself on computers. Like many other forms of malware, ransomware can be picked up just about anywhere online. The key is to prevent it from getting onto your device in the first place.
Yet first, what does ransomware look like? The name speaks for itself in a sense. Ransomware is a form of malware that holds your computer hostage until a ransom is paid up, though paying rarely if ever removes the problem. This can sometimes show up on your device as a message that claims you owe money to the government and demanding you wire money in order to get your files unlocked. Another example is a message that appears on your computer stating that your files will be deleted if you do not wire money within a certain time frame.
The messages and circumstances can be different when it comes to ransomware, but ultimately the goal is the same for the hacker.
Mac users are new to this type of malware, but Windows users are all too familiar with it. No matter what OS you’re using, the best way to prevent it is to use good security software and surf the net responsibly. Brush up on internet security tips so you’ll know how to better spot scams and illegitimate content online.

The Internet of Things

A newer threat is vulnerabilities on Internet of Things devices. Modern technology has allowed us to digitalize many of our day to day items such as appliances, cars, home security systems and more. You can now even use your smartphone to unlock your front door, change the temperature on your home’s thermostat, and even switch lights on and off. There’s no telling what we’ll be able to do in the near future!
The problem with this is that you’re accessing the internet when you use these fancy new gadgets and features. When you do that, there’s a risk for cyberattacks to occur. If you have your smartphone operating the lock on your front door, things could go bad very quickly. A hacker could easily use the technology against you to burglarize your home.
The same goes for smart cars. Imagine having your vehicle hacked while you’re driving! While it’s true that modern technology and the “Internet of Things” and are often very convenient, there’s still a certain threat there when it comes to your safety. It’s still uncertain whether or not internet security software will be available for some of these new gadgets and whether it will always be enough to protect you from a cyberattack.
For the time being, it’s best to give some extra thought into using certain internet enabled devices. Overall, computers and smartphones do have some pretty good software available to help you prevent malware and hackers, but I would think twice before purchasing a smart car or smart appliance. At least hold off until it’s certain that you can do something to properly secure these sorts of devices.

Phishing

One of the most popular scams online is phishing. It’s commonly seen in email inboxes and on social media. Phishing is when a scammer attempts to obtain your personal or account information while posing as someone or something trustworthy.
For example, you may have seen a post going around on Facebook with information about receiving a free gift card to a major retailer just by clicking on a link and entering in your information. This is often phishing. The website will appear to be legitimate and persuade users to enter in their name, address, credit card number and sometimes even their social media login details.
At times, these sorts of cybersecurity threats can be sent out in emails and messages from friends and family, as they may have had their accounts hacked. It’s also not uncommon to come across malicious websites posing to be one of your favorite online retailers or social media websites.
Phishing is unfortunately a bit tricky to prevent. You’ll need to pay attention to the small details in order to avoid it. Read the URLs of websites carefully before you begin handing over your information and look for clues that they may be fake.
The same goes for emails and messages. Maybe you received an email from Walmart, or so it seems, but the email address it was sent from is actually help@walmarts.com instead of help@walmart.com. Subtle differences such as those can act as a tip off to something being malicious versus something being legitimate.
When it comes to messages from friends and family, look for differences in their writing style. Maybe they don’t typically use abbreviations, yet the message includes some. Give a quick call to your friend or family member to confirm whether or not they sent you a message if something seems suspicious.

And Most of All…

Don’t forget to protect your internet enabled devices. If you don’t have the proper security software installed, you’re more likely to fall victim to cyberattacks and malware that could crash your device. An anti-virus is a good program to start off with since it will help you determine whether or not your computer or smartphone has malware on it. It will also assist in its removal if it is indeed infected.
You should also install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to anonymize your internet browsing sessions and encrypt your internet connection wherever you go. Sometimes hackers are just looking for an unsecured connection to make their way onto your device, but with a VPN there’s no need to worry about that!
Combining those two creates the ultimate defense to fight off cybersecurity threats. Just don’t forget to learn how to spot internet scams as well!
Do you have any tips for preventing cyberattacks? Have you had any experiences dealing with any of the above problems? Let us know in the comments.

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