Cybercrime is making headlines around the world. When everything went virtual in 2020, digital attacks soared, costing the global economy about $6 trillion last year. Fear is not the solution. Being prepared and protected is. Here are six simple things that anyone can do to prevent cybercrime.
1. Backup Your Files on the Cloud
Cloud migration has been a big story in business and personal tech for the past few years. Distributed computing offers the opportunity for unprecedented networking and processing power. It’s also good for data security. Cloud providers have immense cybersecurity resources, making them safer in terms of data storage than personal devices. The tools associated with cloud computing (like distributed tracing systems) are useful for keeping data collated and monitored. Consider the benefits of cloud migration for your personal or business devices.
2. Do the Same Offline
On the other hand, no data storage system is totally secure if it’s attached to the internet. Cloud providers are not without their flaws. Think about moving your most vital data offline entirely. This is easier than it sounds. Flash drives can store large amounts of data and often come with expedient add-ons like biometric security and encryption options. According to IBM, the cost of a data breach in 2021 was $161 per record compromised. Having backups of your most vulnerable information in the form of hard copies and USB drives can be invaluable to both prevention and recovery.
3. Adopt a Zero Trust Mentality
Research shows that the last year marked a shift from identity theft to identity fraud. That’s not surprising since geography now poses no challenge to hackers. A zero trust security architecture means never assuming the legitimacy of anyone you communicate with online. Limit user privileges to a bare minimum for anyone accessing your personal networks or devices. Always insist on being shown valid credentials, using multi factor authentication (MFA) if possible. Keep your own passwords long, complicated, and above all, secret.
4. Learn About the Threats
Cybercriminals rely on the ignorance of their victims to get away with their schemes. The best example of this is the common phishing scam. In these attacks, scammers reach out via text, email, or phone call and try to solicit personal information from their target. Many people can’t tell the difference between a fraudulent email or website and a legitimate one. Learn to recognize the red flags and never click on unfamiliar links. Criminals are constantly evolving the sophistication of their methods, so keep your eyes open for emerging threats and then do your research.
5. Defend and Update
Installing antivirus software on every user endpoint should be a given. Unfortunately, many don’t take common sense protection seriously until it’s too late. Make sure that high-quality antivirus programs are installed on all of your devices. If you deal with a high volume of email traffic, consider installing a firewall since these systems help protect against malware attacks.
Remember that software and hardware both need to be updated regularly. Obsolete computers are simply more vulnerable to modern attacks. Older programs commonly have flaws that need to be fixed with a downloadable patch. Updates can be inconvenient which is why 66% of non-professional computer users delay downloading them. Buck this trend if you can and stay one step ahead of hackers.
6. Protect Others
The internet is a shared space. This means it’s everyone’s responsibility to be vigilant and spread knowledge of how to stay safe online. This especially applies to elderly Americans, from whom $40 billion are taken by scammers every year. Teach basic computer literacy to your elderly friends and relatives and don’t let them live in isolation. Cybercriminals know that loneliness creates vulnerability, so stay active and stay in touch.
Cyberattacks can be devastating, but they’re not inevitable. There are many simple steps that individuals and businesses can take to stay safe. Make these tips the start of your fight against cybercrime.