Each time you connect to the Internet from your home or work computer and surf the World Wide Web, you are opening the door for hundreds, even thousands of cyber criminals to enter your private world. Cyber crime is a worldwide enterprise costing the public and private sectors over 400 billion a year. Cyber criminals continuously troll the Internet looking for their next victims. These sophisticated hackers target companies, governments and individuals to steal any data they can use to wreck havoc on their unsuspecting victims. Some hackers do it for profit, others simply for the thrill of it. It’s safe to say that no one is immune to cyber crime. Even more concerning is the fact that the authorities and security experts have so far been unable to stop it.
Cybercrime is a fast-growing area of crime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities that know no borders, either physical or virtual, cause serious harm and pose very real threats to victims worldwide. (Source: Interpol)
Maybe, you haven’t been hit yet; or maybe you have. Either way know this, each time you go online you run a real risk of being the next cyber crime victim if you are not taking deliberate steps to lessen your chances of that happening. Having a firewall and antivirus software are essential for Internet safety, but even they are not entirely foolproof. Hackers have been known to find ways around firewalls and defeat antivirus software to gain access to your computer. Still, firewalls, antivirus, and adware protections are important as a first defense against cyber attacks, and better than no protection at all. To quote the great American statesman/inventor Ben Franklin—
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
In other words, it is better to try to keep a bad thing from happening than it is to fix the bad thing once it has happened. As Internet users, we need to approach the Internet with a healthy sense of caution just as you would walking through a dark alley at 3 am in an unfamiliar town. Nobody with commonsense would risk doing such a thing. Unfortunately, Internet users are not limited to only those persons with commonsense or maturity. Vulnerable groups like children and the elderly also make up the 85 per cent of all Americans who use the Internet. It may come as a surprise that men get hacked more than women. The seductiveness of certain types of Internet sites that some men visit may be the reason.
Most Internet users have little if any understanding of how serious and widespread cyber crime is. Take a look at these cyber crime statistics. They may surprise you:
- Victims per year —556 million
- Victims per day —1.5 million
- Victims per second —18
- Identities exposed —more than 232.4 million
- More than 600,000 Facebook accounts are compromised every day
- 1 in 10 social media users have been victimized by a scam or fake link on social media platforms (Source: Go-Gulf)
Ideally, the best protection against becoming a victim of cyber crime is monitoring your own behavior online, specifically, the sites you visit, information you post, links you open, browser you use, and what you download and the source. Any and all of these actions can potentially contribute to and expose you to a cyber attack. It only takes one visit to a phishing site that looks legit, one click on a phony link that puts bots, trojans or malware on your computer, one corrupt email that allows a cyber criminal to take over your computer or steal your passwords. Be careful where you surf and what you post, especially on social networks. No one can predict where the next cyber attack may come from or what form it may take that’s why continued vigilance is critical for your safety.
The volumes of attacks are increasing because it is a profitable business model for organised crime. With cyber crime there is no risky getaway because the attack is routed through hundreds or thousands of PCs in dozens of countries, making it almost impossible to trace. The internet makes most attacks anonymous and untraceable and that is really attractive to cyber criminals.— Mark Sparshott, EMEA director of security firm Proofpoint.
Here are a few common sense suggestions that may help keep you safe from cyber theft:
- Shop online with a credit card that allows you to generate a virtual account number in place of your real credit card account number. If your credit lacks this feature, get one that does.
- Delete without opening any email that looks suspicious or is from an unfamiliar source, even if it mentions your name in the subject. Hackers can steal a friend’s email address.
- Don’t open everything someone shares on your Facebook timeline, especially if it’s stupid stuff. Be discriminating as to what you “like.” Block questionable posts and persons from your timeline.
- Teach your children safety on the Internet. Use parental controls to limit where they surf.
- Keep abreast of current Internet threats and scams at FBIgov.
- Check it out a sender’s links using this free Website checker.
- On social networks, like Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Snapchat, limit the number of people that you connect or share personal data with to people you actually know. not the friends of the friends of a friend, etc. Don’t trust these sites alone to keep your data safe and private.
- Use Facecrooks to learn about the latest Facebook threats.
Consider this. You wouldn’t go away on vacation and leave every window and door to your house unlocked or operate a motor vehicle without a steering wheel or brakes. The Internet is just as dangerous without safeguards in place.
Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are. Matthew 6:19-21 GNT