Online Accounts Are ALWAYS Under Attack!
Yes, Mr/Mrs/other 1 in 7.7 Billion, you. It is absurd how easy it is to go on Google, find a forum, and locate trillions of records full of personal emails, passwords, names, addresses, and financial information. It is an extremely safe bet that your name has already come to public light.
You’ll agree that the internet plays a crucial role in the lives of many people – including yours. It has become so powerful, that it somehow impacts those who do not use it at all. Mailing, shopping, communicating and banking are some areas of our lives it has positively influenced.
However, nothing is flawless. The internet isn’t either.
There are huge loopholes and some people are looking to exploit them. Be it for their gain, to hurt others and sometimes both.
These people are looking to take advantage of the lapses in the internet’s security. Hence, everyone should be concerned at the very least. Then do something about it. You will see in this article, reasons cybersecurity is everybody’s business, and how to stay safe.
Here are some reasons:
- Online Accounts Are Under a Threat
- Targeted Spamming is Rampant
- Manipulative Ads are Everywhere
- Cryptojacking is Getting Common
How did they get my data?
It is near impossible in today’s world to not have an online account. It is often with social media, banking, storage services. But there are a ton of services on the internet that require an account. These accounts have our data such as full name, date of birth, even debit card details sometimes. When a data breach happens with these services, it is this data that gets leaked and sold.
A data breach doesn’t have to happen before an online account is threatened. Hackers are looking to gain illegal access to people’s accounts. Hence, they target users directly, not the service. When they gain access to the account, they can use it for unscrupulous activities. One of such is extorting money from the network of friends on that account, or even tainting the account owner’s reputation.
Targeted Spamming is Getting More Rampant
The internet can help provide information on the latest deals, scholarships, coupon codes and so on. A lot of this info comes into your mailbox, but it is often abused. Emails addresses are being crawled intending to send targeted emails to the owners of those addresses.
While the spam box does well with handling spam, it doesn’t catch all cases. Hence, you can get an enticing message in your email tomorrow morning, but won’t be able to tell if it is real or fake.
This is also a means of sending malware to unsuspecting victims. Hackers can send emails with malware hidden in them, such that your computer becomes infected on clicking a link. A lot of things can happen after this, and the experience is almost always not a pleasurable one.
Manipulative Ads are a thing
Online advertisements are a huge component of the internet today. There are job roles for social media marketers, whose job is to help a company gain new customers from social media, mainly through targeted ads.
Machine learning can be used to study user data and make predictions on their interests, to get “the right content” to them. While this is a good initiative and very helpful, it can be used wrongly.
This story by Yaël Eisenstat shows how manipulative political ads are a thing on a social media platform like Facebook. So, politicians sponsor specific ads to users who aren’t their supporters to convince them.
It doesn’t have to be through ads alone. There are users on these platforms who work as “social media influencers” as they have a huge following. They get gigs to brand companies positively and improve public relations, regardless of the values of such a company. Manipulation is a serious issue on the web today, and everyone needs to be concerned about this situation.
Cryptojacking Cases are Increasing
Blockchain is big in the technology world and is gradually making waves in the finance sector too, through cryptocurrency. Facebook’s Libra will launch in 2020, and everyone is looking to see how things play out.
While Libra could end up positively impacting the world, there are thousands of cryptocurrencies out there. Only a few are popular and used for transactions. However, people are looking for means to mine cryptocurrency, using people’s devices. In a few words, cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone’s device to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
It may not look like a big deal, but a device that is used to mine cryptocurrencies will have a huge part of its resources go into mining. Hence, the device becomes overloaded with tasks and the malware makes user experience deteriorate. This malware often hides in sites with a lot of ads, so when unsuspecting users click on such links it becomes activated. What makes this complicated is that they work in the background, slowing down performance and causing the device to lag.
How to Act On Cybersecurity Concerns
Of what use is being concerned about cybersecurity if you do nothing about it? Hence, in this section, you’ll learn about some steps you can take to protect yourself in the middle of all of this chaos.
- Use Password Storage Tools
- Use Two Factor Authentication
- Stay Alert for Password Breaches
- Have a Test Email
- Use Ad-blockers
Use Password Storage Tools
There are many web applications on the internet and the majority need you to sign up. You need to ensure you use strong passwords for all these platforms. But how do you remember them all? It is near impossible. So the solution is to use platforms for storing passwords like LastPass, 1Password. They are free to use and have plugins that you can use to fetch passwords for different websites from the browser. This way, you can have strong passwords for all sites without memorizing them.
Use Two Factor Authentication
Two Factor Authentication also is known as 2FA provides added security to your account. Many web applications have this feature, so enable it. With 2FA, you will need extra information to log in, not just your password. Hence, if for any reason, someone figures out your password, 2FA will keep you protected.
Stay Alert for Password Breaches
When a service suffers from a password breach, it’ll often get in the news. If such happens, the first thing to do is to change your password. This way, you can prevent any damage or complications from such a data breach. But it is not every time a breach happens that you get to hear of it. So you can use tools like haveibeenpwned, to check if your email address is involved with an account in any recent data breach.
Have a Test Email
There are a lot of web services out there, and the majority require you to sign up with an email address. But some of these services can’t be trusted, so you shouldn’t sign up with your main address. When you have a test email, you can test out services without the fear of a service selling your actual data. If over time, you get to use such service a lot or you end up trusting them, you can sign up with your actual email address.
Ads are nearly everywhere on the internet. While some are properly set up and do not disrupt the internet experience, others can be frustrating. There are lots of sites out there with frustrating pop-ups for every action on the page. These kinds of sites are dangerous and can have malware embedded in those ads. Hence, tread carefully. Try installing an ad-blocker and disable pop-ups. This reduces the number of ads and pop-ups, which improves your browsing experience and chances of staying safe.
Cybersecurity is becoming a growing concern. Everyone, tech-inclined or not should realize the present state of internet security. While the web has a lot of positives to offer, the negatives are present too. Data breaches, cryptojacking, spamming are some things that raise the level of insecurity when browsing the web. In this article, you’ve also learned some tips to stay safe amid all these insecurity issues. Hopefully, you implement these tips and spread the word that cybersecurity should be a key concern for everyone.