The digital world offers conveniences like online shopping and mobile banking, but it also creates vulnerabilities that can lead to devastating consequences for businesses and consumers. Cyber attacks exploit these vulnerabilities in order to steal money, private data, and even legal identities.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported $10.3 billion in losses to cyber crime in 2022, a significant rise from $6.9 billion in 2021. Total consumer losses to cyber crime have increased in each of the past five years, making it more important than ever to understand how to protect yourself from cyber attacks and avoid becoming a victim.
A cyber attack can lead to financial distress, identity theft, and lingering psychological trauma, but there are ways to secure your data and privacy. Keep reading and learn how to protect yourself from a cyber attack.
Cyber attacks compromise your security by giving criminals access to your data, your online accounts, or even your devices. Hackers and scammers use several common methods to pull off their ploys, from phishing and social engineering tactics to malware and data breaches. If you can spot a cyber attack in action, however, you may be able to limit the damage.
Many cybercriminals use phishing schemes and other social engineering tactics to trick their targets into revealing private information, transferring money to scammers’ accounts, or granting access to private networks. They generally disguise themselves as well-known businesses or government agencies and create fake situations that encourage victims to cooperate.
Phishing occurs when a fraudster sends an email or spam text (or smishing attack) posing as a legitimate entity or trustworthy individual and soliciting personal data. Phishing attacks often include links that direct the target to a spoofed website to supposedly take advantage of an offer or address an issue. In reality, the offer or issue doesn’t exist, and any information entered into the website goes directly to the scammer.
Other social engineering tactics include:
By recognizing these tactics from a distance, you can help protect yourself against social engineering attacks.
Many cyber attacks involve malware, or malicious software that infects your devices and gives cybercriminals access to your data. Some involve a specific type of malware called ransomware, which encrypts your files and charges you a ransom (usually cryptocurrency) to have them decrypted. Some malware is spyware, which monitors your activity and transmits data back to the criminal. Spyware may track your keystrokes (known as keystroke logging) and steal usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information.
Malware often comes from suspicious links and malicious file attachments, but you can practice malware prevention by refraining from engaging with these potential traps. Avoiding these dangerous links and attachments helps prevent viruses and malicious code from allowing criminals to access your data and apps.
When a cybercriminal gains access to a company’s network, they may steal sensitive business information as well as private customer details. This type of data breach can reveal personally identifying information like email addresses, phone numbers, and even Social Security numbers or login credentials. Fraudsters can sell this stolen information on the dark web or use it to steal people’s money, credit, and identities.
Although data breach prevention is always preferable, knowing how to respond to a data breach can allow you to mitigate damage and quickly recover your losses. If your business suffers a data breach, notify the FTC and fix network vulnerabilities immediately. If you personally fall victim to data theft, contact your financial institutions and change the login credentials for all of your online accounts.
A strong defense against cyber threats is vital to your digital security. Complex passwords, up-to-date operating systems, and reliable antivirus software can help protect you and your devices from hackers and scammers.
Login credentials serve as an essential barrier between cybercriminals and your privacy. Use complex passwords that include letters, numbers, and special characters, and use unique login information for each of your online accounts. Consider using a password manager to keep track of sophisticated passwords without having to remember them, and change your login details regularly to revoke access from scammers who may have already broken in.
Add an extra layer of security by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. This requires a private code in addition to your password when logging into your accounts. Never share your 2FA or MFA codes by call or text message — no legitimate business will ask for them.
Be sure to install system updates and reputable antivirus software on all of your devices, even if you don’t use each one every day. Update the operating systems on your phone, laptop, tablet, or watch to take advantage of new security features, and use reliable, up-to-date antivirus software to detect threats.
You should also equip your phone with a comprehensive scam blocker to protect yourself from dangerous phone fraud that may facilitate cyber attacks. Robokiller blocks dangerous spam texts and annoying spam calls from making it through to your phone, so scammers can’t target you with their schemes.
The internet can be dangerous, but following cybersecurity best practices can help you avoid traps and protect your personal and financial information.
Phishing and smishing schemes often involve malicious links and infected file attachments. Keep these tips in mind when you get an email or text with an unexpected link or suspicious attachment.
Being proactive in your defense makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to target you. Follow these internet safety tips and stay off cybercriminals’ radars.
Whether the target is an everyday consumer or a multibillion-dollar corporation, cyber attacks can yield quick and significant consequences including identity theft and financial fraud. It’s critical to react swiftly if you’re targeted by a cyber attack.
The sooner you take action, the better you can limit the damage done in a cyber attack. Follow these steps as soon as you realize you’ve been targeted:
The timely reporting of a cyber attack can help the victim recover their losses as well as enable any involved institutions and agencies to improve their defenses, resulting in better protection for everyone.
Cyber attacks can have disastrous consequences, but there are ways to secure your data and shut down the perpetrators. By knowing how to protect your personal information online and using a trustworthy spam blocker like Robokiller to prevent scam calls and texts, you can stay a step ahead of the cybercriminals who are out to steal your data.
Robokiller helps protect you from cybercriminals by virtually eliminating phone fraud as well as removing your personal information from the web. Our robust algorithm eliminates 99% of dangerous scam calls and texts, and our personal data protection scans help keep your sensitive information private, reducing your risk for financial loss and identity theft.
Bolster your online privacy protection and keep your sensitive information out of scammers’ hands with a personal data protection scan from Robokiller.
Cyber attacks can come in many forms, from social engineering schemes like phishing and smishing messages to malware installations and network breaches. Cybercriminals may hack devices and humans alike, and their goal is typically to steal money, personal information, or sensitive company data.
Bolster your online security by keeping your personal information private; knowing how to spot and prevent cyber attacks; using protective software like antivirus programs and scam blockers (like Robokiller); and responding to suspicious activity immediately.
Indicators of a cyber attack can vary and may include suspicious texts and emails, slow computing speeds and altered data, problems logging into your online accounts, and ransom messages that demand cryptocurrency in exchange for the decryption of your files.
If the suspected cyber attack occurs at work, notify your direct supervisor immediately. If you’ve been targeted as an individual, refrain from clicking links or opening attachments and stop communicating with the attacker. Change the login credentials for all of your online accounts, notify the FTC and IC3, and call the police if you’ve given away personal or financial information.
Stay secure online by keeping personal data concealed, using a VPN to protect your identity, and recognizing the red flags of a cyber attack. Don’t use the internet to communicate with or send money to people you don’t know and trust. Use antivirus software and a scam blocker like Robokiller to help protect your devices (and information) from cybercriminals.