5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Cybercriminal Activities
Crime and criminals are the two terms that came into being since the birth of mankind. As civilizations progressed, small villages turned into cities with an influx of people working to promote economic activities. It has further leveraged a significant increase in the crime rate. Every society includes people who carry malicious intent and look for individuals to prey on. The motivations to commit a crime can be either financial or personal.
However, with the rise in internet usage, people have now shifted to online platforms to perform cybercriminal activities. Cybercrime can range from hacking someone’s personal or professional account to stealing financial data from a bank. These activities provide hackers illegitimate access to user’s personal and crucial business information that they misuse to gain benefits. Some cybercriminals use advanced technologies and skills for these activities, while others are novice hackers. Some common examples of different types of cybercriminal activities include internet and email frauds, ransomware attacks, theft and sale of corporate data, cyber extortion, etc.
Anyone who uses the internet, be it for personal or professional activities, needs to know about cybercrime and ways to prevent oneself from being a victim of these activities. Hence, to guide you further, below, we’ve discussed a few practices which you can exercise as safety precautions.
Table of Contents
1. Security Begins With Passwords
Strong passwords can help to keep your account and personal information safe from hackers. But the question is, what constitutes a strong password? It is essentially a type of code that a hacker cannot guess or even crack with a brute force attack. Ideally, a strong password should contain a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
Using more variation in terms of character types is recommended to create a strong password. However, simply creating one strong password and using it for all accounts can also be counterproductive. As in many cases, when hackers gain access to one of the passwords through a data breach, they can technically get access to other login ids that were not exposed during the data breach.
Today, many educational institutes are preparing graduates to tackle these problems to ensure data security. Besides, more and more students are now opting for Masters in cyber security online and on-campus degree programs due to the rising demands of cybersecurity specialists in the corporate market.
2. Do Not Ignore Software Updates
Software updates serve the purpose of adding newer features to enhance its performance. They also add security improvements alongside performance upgrades. However, a lot of people do not take software updates seriously. Cybercriminals and hackers exploit weaknesses and flaws in existing systems to serve their purpose.
A simple example to understand the importance of software updates is to consider Microsoft’s two products: Windows XP and the current-gen Windows 10. Naturally, systems running on the former product are highly vulnerable to cyber activities simply because the technology cannot successfully cater to modern hacking attempts. On the flipside, with consistent upgrades, the current-gen Windows will give hackers a tough time. Also, the built-in security upgrades will ensure that the system does not crack easily under any malicious activity.
3. Review Your Privacy Settings
Undoubtedly, the use of social media has significantly increased in the past few years. Some social media websites require users’ consent to publish their data on their platforms, making it easily accessible for anyone searching for it. Those with ill-intentions can gain easy access to sensitive or private information through one’s social media account and can use it for identity theft or may blackmail users for financial gains. Now the question is what users should do to protect themselves?
All social media platforms offer privacy settings that users can adjust based on their needs for data protection. They may choose people who can view their social media activities. Some are comfortable with sharing their pictures publicly. In contrast, others may opt for a more personal approach where only friends can see their online activities. Regardless, reviewing your privacy settings once in a while can ensure that unauthorized individuals do not access information that is supposed to be private. Moreover, it is best to remain mindful of what you share on social media platforms, as it can take you a long way in protecting yourself from cybercrimes.
4. Not All Wi-Fi Networks Are Safe
Today, a significant number of people choose to travel from one place to another due to various personal and professional reasons. However, long hours at airports or railway stations can often become frustrating, especially when traveling out of the country. Getting access to public Wi-Fi, especially free of cost, can be a huge life-saver. However, nothing in this world comes for free. Accessing a public network can expose one’s devices to a plethora of risks. These public networks provide hackers the opportunity to gain illegitimate access to different devices connected to the free Wi-Fi networks. By its very nature, public networks are not as secure as private networks.
Therefore, to prevent oneself from any malicious activity, the use of VPNs is highly recommended when traveling and using public networks. VPNs secure one’s browsing data and give a tough time to cybercriminals, hence reducing the chances of becoming a victim of an online crime.
5. Use Anti-Virus Applications
Several cybersecurity solutions are available for servers, networks, and devices to deal with a range of cyber threats. However, spending an arm and a leg might not be the most cost-effective solution in protecting oneself from cyber threats. The simplest and most cost-effective method is to get a subscription from reputed anti-virus software. These applications offer compatible data security options for a variety of devices to suit one’s needs.
These applications also run timely scans of each device, track internet traffic for malicious links or content, and warn the users when they stumble across spammy links on the internet. They also strengthen the firewall and have the ability to tackle any viruses that may enter one’s devices. Investing in such software can help build a strong defense against cyber threats.
Cybercrime is a continuously evolving phenomenon. It is important to clarify that not all forms of cybercrime are equal, depending on the severity of the consequences. However, with the rise in technology use, the potential damage that can be done due to cyberattacks also increases. Therefore, governments and companies continue to invest in improving existing security structures. The key is to find a balance between our online exposure and privacy while exercising safety practices.