Individuals—not computers—create threats and victimize others for their own good, said Webroot, a cybersecurity and threat intelligence services. Computer predators who have gained access to the internet or your computer can drastically increase your likelihood of security threats.
As unauthorized users, hackers can compromise computer systems to purloin sensitive information or destroy them. Hackers can do this by installing malware without your consent or knowledge. Hackers might not always hack devices (not just computers) for malicious purposes, but they can also do it for financial gain, protest, information gathering, or even for “fun,” explained Malwarebytes, an anti-malware software.
Anyone who uses an internet-connected computer can be vulnerable to hackers and online predators. They employ phishing scams, spam mail or instant messages, and fake websites to send malware to your computer, thereby compromising your computer’s security. Hackers can also directly access your computer and personal information if your computer is not protected by a firewall.
Americans’ Understanding of Cybersecurity and Hackers (2016)
Global leader in cybersecurity Kaspersky Lab commissioned Opinion Matters, a research firm, to conduct a survey of over 5,000 Americans in the US aged 16 and above in December 2016. Kaspersky Lab collaborated with HackerOne, a bug bounty platform, to find out about the respondents’ perception of the hacker mindset, work, and personal cybersecurity threats.
When asked what they think motivates hackers, 79% said they think hackers are driven by potential financial gain. 59% thought that morale or ego boost was a motivation for hackers. Men (62%) were more likely than women (56%) to think an ego boost was a source of motivation for hackers. Meanwhile, more women (57%) than men (50%) thought that the motivation for hackers stems from their desire to access personal data or information and people’s accounts.
With regard to age demographics, older generations aged 45-54 and 55+ years were more likely to believe that hackers are up to no good with no positive incentives motivating them. Older people were more likely to think that the motivation of hackers was to be malicious (52%) or create problems (59%). Among younger generations, 35% of those aged 16-24 years old felt that hackers are motivated by malicious intentions.
When asked if the respondents knew a company that hired hackers to safeguard the security of their systems/devices/products they sell, 54% said it would not make a difference to their purchasing decision while 22% answered they would be more likely to make a purchase.
When asked who they think should be responsible for the protection of their data when purchasing goods online, 73% said it would be retailers, 64% said card payment companies, and 59% answered that it would be them. Other answers stated by the respondents were manufacturers (24%), couriers (11%), and other (1%). Only 2% said they do not think anyone should be responsible for protecting their data when they purchase a product online.
When asked what types of data the respondents would expect to pay a ransom to get back if a company was a target of a cyberattack, 43% said it would be employee social security numbers, and 39% answered employee banking. 39% also said that they would not expect companies to pay any ransom if they were hacked and another 39% stated it would be employees’ personal information. Other answers mentioned by the respondents include company financial information (37%), customer personal information (35%), company client information (32%), commercially sensitive information (27%), employee health insurance information (22%), competitor information (13%), and other (2%).
Security Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Device
It is recommended to download a reliable anti-malware product or an app that can detect and block malware and connections to phishing websites. Malwarebytes also suggested downloading mobile apps from legitimate marketplaces that monitor malware-carrying apps such as Google Play and Amazon Appstore.
Also, bear in mind that banks or online payment systems will not ask you for your log in details, credit card numbers, and social security number via email. Avoid using the same password for your other accounts. Ensure that your passwords are long and complicated. In that case, you can use a password manager if you can’t remember all the passwords to your accounts.
According to Alex Heath of Business Insider, a fast-growing business site, it is also wise to activate the two-step verification option for every online account that supports it. It is an additional security measure that requires the user to authenticate themselves on another device, usually on their phone.
Two-step verification prevents another person from logging into your account using your email and passwords, which helps safeguard your accounts. Your email provider should have the two-step verification enabled. There are other companies that offer these options such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and Facebook. Don’t engage with a website or an email that looks dubious.
Thinking of using a VPN? It does not mean that your web traffic will be in safe hands so exercise caution when using them. It’s a common security practice when you are using public WiFi, as it encrypts your traffic, preventing hackers from seeing what data you are transmitting over the network.
However, the main problem with using VPN is the provider itself. “You have to trust the VPN provider with no way to know if they're not keeping logs," said Will Strafach, a security researcher and former iPhone hacker working on Sudo Security, a security solution of the iOS. Providers can say they are not keeping logs but the users don’t know if the service is storing them or not.
Keeping Confidential Information Confidential
If you are working from home, cybersecurity is not only about securing your emails and passwords, but it is also about keeping your devices and confidential printed documents physically safe, stated Steve Benton of World Economic Forum, an independent international organization.
Consider where in your home you are working from if you work remotely. Guard yourself against ill-intentioned outsiders to ensure that they can’t see your screen and paperwork through your windows or doors. Don’t leave your device on display when leaving the house. Be aware of emails that look like they are sent from legitimate companies and organizations, making it easier for users to respond. Ask yourself if there is anything strange in the email or if you are asked to do something that your organization would not do.
Devices can be susceptible to hacking and other security threats. Users should exercise caution when providing personal information to unknown senders or those who pose as legitimate organizations. Cyberattacks are ever-evolving so users, companies, and agencies should bolster their security to safeguard them against malicious actors.