Cyber Security & How to Stay Secure From Cybercrime

With Cybercrime being one of the fastest growing crimes globally, it’s always a good to know how to protect yourself from criminals. Staying protected can be challenging as it can be difficult to keep up with the everchanging ways criminals exploit new security risks. Here are a few ways to minimise security risks that anyone can practice.

Keep software and operating systems up to date. Companies are constantly working to improve security by releasing patches and updates to their operating systems and applications to fix the vulnerabilities which are unavoidably found by either white hat hackers or criminals. White hat hackers are security specialists who attempt to defeat the security of systems to find vulnerabilities so they can be fixed before criminals do. By keeping up to date, you ensure your device is as secure as possible to recently found vulnerabilities.

Use an antivirus. Antiviruses are crucial if your device is connected to the internet. It’s not always possible to stay completely protected from malware, but the risks are greatly reduced by using reputable antivirus. Windows comes with a decent antivirus, but it has limited functionally and often misses more advanced malware. Antiviruses use malware definitions to detect malware, these definitions are basically a long list of what virus applications “look like” and are added to when new versions of malware are come across. Usually, antiviruses you pay for have more malware definitions and are updated more regularly than free options. Beware of running too many antimalware applications are they do take system resources to run and can potentially slow down a system – but the better options usually have less of an impact on system resources.

Avoid clicking on links you aren’t certain of. Links can be disguised are something they aren’t so, it’s best to check where a hyperlink will take you before clicking on it. With most browsers you can see the target URL of the link by hovering over it. You can do that to check the web address you will be directed to by clicking on the hyperlink. Be aware of misspelled links – these are often used to target people who don’t recognise the misspelling, taking them to a different site than expected or initiating a malware download.

Check to see if the site your using has HTTPS at the beginning of the web address – this means the site uses an authentication and security protocol. Only give away personal information or banking details on sites starting with HTTPS, HTTP sites are not secure, and your information is liable to being stolen.

Backup your data. If your data is held at ransom or has been infected and therefore lost, it’s always a good idea to have a backup handy. Make sure important information is backed up regularly to the could or a local storage device – ideally both as data stored in the cloud is usually more redundant than local storage, meaning there is more than one copy kept.

Lastly, remember that unless you are totally isolated from the world, you can never be completely safe from cyber-attacks. For instance, Microsoft’s security intelligence team investigated, on the 5th of January 2023, a business email compromise attack and found that the attackers moved rapidly, with some of the steps taking minutes to complete. The entire process took just a couple of hours. Microsoft 365 Defender generated a warning about the attack 20 minutes after a targeted email was deleted by the attacker and automatically disrupted the attack by disabling the user’s account.

Companies spend millions on protecting themselves from cyber threats and still are defeated and must adjust to changing trends. Don’t panic, these companies are big targets and threats can usually be mitigated by following the above guidelines.

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