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QR code phishing, most commonly referred to as “quishing,” is a type of phishing attack that tricks users into scanning QR codes to steal personal information such as login credentials or credit card numbers. When a...
Updated on November 6, 2023.
Cybersecurity is important because cyber attacks are increasing in frequency, they are costly for organizations and individuals alike, and they are becoming more advanced due to the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to carry them out. Cybersecurity is also important because it helps you keep your data protected and mitigates the risk of having your identity stolen.
Continue reading to learn more about cybersecurity and the best practices you should be following to keep yourself safe online.
Cybersecurity refers to the measures, technology or practices put in place to prevent or mitigate the risk of networks, devices and data from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. These individuals are often referred to as cybercriminals. When cybercriminals gain access to systems and data, their main goal is to steal the data to use for malicious purposes and monetary gain.
Here are five reasons why cybersecurity is important to implement and actively practice.
According to Check Point’s 2023 Mid-Year Security Report, there was an 8% surge in weekly cyber attacks in the second quarter of 2023 globally. This is the most significant increase in cyber attacks in two years.
As cyber attacks increase, it’s important to have measures in place to mitigate the risk. When an organization or person is affected by a cyber attack, it can leave significant damage that not only takes time to recover from, but also costs money.
The cost of a cyber attack varies depending on the type of attack. According to Keeper Security’s 2022 U.S. Password Practices Report, 55% of respondents had been victims of at least one cyber attack, and money was stolen as a result. On average, respondents lost $378. However, this number doesn’t include the hidden costs of cyber attacks which would also include the money and time it costs to recover from the incident.
AI is a type of technology that can mimic human intelligence. AI can recognize patterns, make decisions and solve problems all on its own without needing the assistance of a human. You may be familiar with large language models like ChatGPT, which is a specific AI tool. As these tools become more advanced, cybercriminals are taking advantage of them to carry out various types of cyber attacks like password cracking, generating error-free phishing emails, impersonating people’s voices to carry out vishing attacks and creating deepfakes. Deepfakes are when AI is used to create fake images and videos, typically by making someone look like someone they’re not. Deepfakes are commonly used by cybercriminals to spread false information.
Using cybersecurity best practices ensures that your data is always protected, even in a worst-case scenario. By taking precautions like using strong passwords for each of your accounts and ensuring you’re storing your sensitive data in a secure, encrypted location, you can prevent your data from getting into the hands of cybercriminals, even when they attempt to target you.
Identity theft is a common goal for many cybercriminals. When launching cyber attacks, cybercriminals will attempt to steal your sensitive information so they can use it to take over one or more of your online accounts, take out loans under your name, collect unemployment benefits and more.
By actively practicing cybersecurity you can reduce the risk of having your identity stolen because the extra precautions you’ll be taking will keep your data and accounts secure.
Here are some cybersecurity best practices you should be following.
Strong passwords are passwords that are at least 16 characters long and use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Strong passwords are also not reused across multiple accounts, don’t contain personal information and don’t contain dictionary words or phrases.
Coming up with strong passwords on your own is difficult to do– plus they can be difficult to remember. It’s best to use a password manager to create strong passwords and securely store them. The only password you’ll need to remember is your master password, which is what you’ll use to access anything stored in your password vault.
Multi-factor authentication is a security measure that provides an additional layer of protection to your online accounts. When MFA is enabled on one of your online accounts, it requires that you provide one or more forms of authentication in addition to your username and password. There are many forms of authentication you can enable, and they may vary from account to account.
Some common methods of authentication include Time-based One-Time Passwords (TOTP) generated by an authenticator application or password manager, as well as hardware security keys, and biometric authentication like Face ID.
Software updates don’t only provide your apps and devices with new features, they also patch up known security vulnerabilities, add new security features, fix bug issues and improve the performance of your app or device. When software updates aren’t downloaded as soon as they’re available, it leaves a hole open for cybercriminals to exploit with malware and other viruses. Malware is malicious software that can be used to spy on you and track your keystrokes.
As soon as you know a new update is available for your app or device, download it immediately. If possible, enable automatic updates so you don’t have to worry about manually updating your apps and devices.
It’s a cybersecurity best practice to avoid clicking on links and attachments if you aren’t sure they are safe and if they were unsolicited. Rather than clicking on unsolicited links that claim to be from a legitimate company, navigate to the company’s official website or go to their mobile application.
If you’ve been sent an unsolicited attachment, it’s safer to avoid opening it. If you feel like you need to open it, run antivirus software to scan the attachment before opening, to ensure it’s safe. If your antivirus software alerts you that the attachment is not safe, don’t click on it and block the sender. Here’s how to block a sender if your email provider is Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook or Proton Mail:
Any sensitive data you store online should be stored in an encrypted location to prevent cybercriminals from being able to compromise it. Encryption is when data is converted from a readable format to an unreadable format known as ciphertext. This ciphertext is unreadable by both humans and computers until it’s decrypted. The only way to decrypt encrypted data is by using an encryption key, which is what turns the data back to its original format.
One example of a secure, encrypted location where you can store sensitive information, is in a password manager. Password managers are mainly used to store passwords, but most password managers also can store other sensitive data like driver’s licenses, home deeds, passports, credit card numbers and more. The encryption key when using a password manager would be your master password.
If you decide to choose a password manager to store your data, make sure it uses zero-knowledge encryption, as this is the most secure type of encryption, and ensures that your data is encrypted at all times.
Using public WiFi comes with risks– one of the most prominent risks being Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks. In a MITM attack, cybercriminals intercept data being sent between two individuals to steal, eavesdrop or modify the data being sent. This type of attack is most common when using a public WiFi network since these networks are often left unsecured.
To prevent falling victim to this type of attack, avoid using public WiFi. If there’s no other choice but to use a public WiFi network, connect to a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) before connecting to the public WiFi to protect your internet connection and data. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and data, and mask your IP address, so cybercriminals won’t be able to see your location.
Practicing cybersecurity is crucial to keeping yourself safe online. If you don’t take security precautions like using strong passwords and enabling MFA on your online accounts, it becomes easy for cybercriminals to gain access to them. Cyber attacks are only continuing to increase in frequency and are becoming more advanced so it’s important to take steps to avoid becoming a victim.
The first step to bettering your cybersecurity is protecting your online accounts. Start a free 30-day trial of Keeper Password Manager today.