Cybercrime, especially in the past few years, has been in the news more and more often. From the Equifax data breach that exposed millions of people’s personal information, to malware that crippled an oil pipeline, to ransomware that locked local governments and hospitals out of their technology, it’s hard to escape the effects of it. Fortunately, how a person can prevent cyber crime comes down to several common sense and easy to follow steps.
Steps to Prevent Cyber Crime
These steps on how to prevent cyber crime are effective for both protecting your business and personal data, which, these days, are often intertwined.
Updating Software on Time
While it’s certainly tempting to put off an update for your phone, computer, or tablet, you really shouldn’t. A lot of these updates, particularly small ones, tend to be tailor made to deal with a specific security threat or weakness.
It can be a pain to remember every password and a combination of numbers and symbols, but it’s vital to account security. Password breakers can break through simple passwords in just a few hours, and creating a strong password can make you virtually immune from this threat.
Only Open Attachments from Verified and Trusted Senders
When criminals are phishing or spear phishing, they’ll often include an attachment or link in the email. Before you click on the link or download the file, make sure that the sender is who they say they are.
Protect Your Personal Information
It’s fairly intuitive, the more someone knows about you, the easier it is for them to gain access to your accounts. You can protect your personal information by ensuring your social media settings are private and by being careful about what you share online or over the phone.
Be Careful with Public Wi-Fi
Unless your data plan includes an unlimited hotspot, it’s likely that you’ll need to use public Wi-Fi from time to time. While you should avoid it when you can, sometimes it’s inevitable. So, when you do need to use public Wi-Fi, don’t enter any private information into applications or websites, and, if possible, use a virtual private network (VPN), to encrypt your data that runs through the public network.
Run an Antivirus Software and Update it Regularly
While most computers now come installed with some form of virus software and firewall, it’s also best to run a dedicated antivirus software. There are several reputable options, and once you pick one, make sure to keep it updated. Antivirus softwares update frequently to deal with new threats as they emerge, and if you’re not updating, you’ll be missing the full protection.
Common Types of Cybercrime
In addition to these steps, knowing how to prevent cyber crime also comes down to knowing more about it. Cyber crime comes in various forms, and in many cases, attackers will use several different methods at once to try and achieve a breakthrough.
When most people think of cyber crime, they often imagine a man dressed in black, furiously typing code into a computer to break through their defenses. And while this sort of hacking does exist, it’s a less common form of cyber crime than people think.
One of the most common and effective forms of cyber crime is phishing. In a phishing attempt, hundreds, or even thousands, of emails will be sent to whatever email addresses they can find. While these are often clumsy, some can be convincing, and they will typically ask you to either download a file or visit a link, either of which can then compromise your information and accounts.
Spear phishing is a targeted variant of phishing, where a criminal will tailor an email, text or other form of communication at an individual, typically someone they perceive as having access within a company or organization.
Malware and Ransomware
These two types of malicious softwares are typically designed to inhibit your computer in some way. Malware typically aims to infiltrate your system to steal data, information, and/or money. It can come from a variety of sources, but the most common two are a breach in an organization’s cyber-security, or through someone downloading content that contains the malware.
Ransomware is similar to malware, but the goal of ransomware differs. Once ransomware enters the system, it typically locks every user out and renders the system unusable. To fix it, cyber criminals will hold the fix for ransom, requiring the company to pay it before unlocking the system.
DDos attacks aim to overload an organization’s or individual’s network or servers. In a DDos attack, a criminal group or individual will spam the server or network with connection requests, which aims to take the network offline by the sheer volume of requests.
Extortion and Blackmail
Extortion and blackmail as a cyber crime tends to come through phishing, where an individual or group misrepresents themselves in order to extract confidential or embarrassing information from an individual.
They then use this information to either extract money from the individual or to try and force them to reveal confidential or proprietary information.
How Cyber Crime Impacts Businesses and Individuals
The impact of cyber crime on the economy is immense and growing, which makes knowing how to prevent it even more important. Identity fraud accounted for $56 billion lost in 2020 alone, and the group Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that by 2025, it will cost the world $10.5 trillion a year.
In addition to the financial cost to businesses and individuals, being a victim of cyber crime can impact an organization or individual’s reputation.
What to Do if You’re Impacted by Cyber Crime
If you become a victim of cyber crime, there are solutions. In the United States, you should report the crime to the FBI’s cyber crime division, who can investigate and give you steps to follow to help you minimize the damage.
Record Nations Helps Companies Prevent Cyber Crime
Record Nations partners with a nationwide network of business technology providers that can help keep your data secure. Our providers are experts at providing companies and individuals affordable and reliable scanning, document management, and storage solutions. Give us a call today at (866) 385-3706, or fill out the form on the page, and we’ll find a solution for storing and protecting your data that works for you in just minutes.