Cybersecurity: The Internet Is a Dangerous Place

At first, people were skeptical that this whole Internet thing would even stick around in the first place. Academics and the government mainly used it as a form of creating, storing, and sharing data. Over time, the Internet has blossomed into something that can primarily be considered an extension of our own minds.

We entertain ourselves with the Internet, get our news from it, and at an increasing rate, are giving websites our sensitive data like credit card and banking information.

While things like banking and credit card information is known to be inherently valuable, there’s a ton of value going through even your non-financial type of Internet accounts. This is because the data within is worth money to somebody out there. Since this means your online presence is functionally worth money, there are people out there trying to steal it.

This brings us to the concept of cybersecurity. Most people and even most large corporations are woefully unaware of the glaring vulnerabilities in their accounts and the accompanying systems. Of course, this means a new industry has spawned, with people known as cybersecurity analysts coming into the fray. They are certified, usually having gone through a cybersecurity analyst course to become accredited.

You don’t need to be a tech geek, or spend hours researching how cyber attacks work to protect yourself from 90% of attacks, though. Follow these simple tips to keep your data secure:

Any Account Can Be a Target

Don’t skimp on making sure you have secure passwords for each one of your accounts. With a lot of your online presence being interlinked, a hacker just needs to take your least well-secured account to start taking over others in a domino effect. Also, just because an account doesn’t deal directly with money doesn’t mean there isn’t a financial utility to compromising it. Someone could take your Twitter or Facebook account to create a massive network of compromised accounts to fulfill their own goals, or use those accounts to “recover” other accounts under your control.

Be sure all of your accounts are secured with strong passwords, and that you keep them in a secure location.

Be Wary of Phishing Scams

“Phishing” is the process of using a deceptive link to trick users into logging in to an account with their valid login credentials, and then the hackers will log into the account themselves. For instance, you could receive an email from your bank that says you need to log in to confirm some critical information. But then, the link they give you is actually Citibamk or some other slight misspelling of the actual website. Be wary of any links contained in an email sent to you, and always check the sender’s email. Reputable companies will only send emails from branded email accounts. Typically, they are very professional in nature.

If you’re unsure if the email you’ve received is genuine (90% of the time, they aren’t), log into the service on a new tab, not through the link the email gives you, or call the customer support line and ask them if the concerns voiced in the email are genuine.

Always Have Your Wits About You

Knowing those two tips will keep you secure from a vast majority of hacking attempts. Most hacks aren’t sophisticated intrusions on the security of a website, but merely the plucking of low-hanging fruit.

Keep your passwords secure and don’t trust any emails that are looking for your personal information. Stay safe on the Internet. Your data is more valuable than you think.

Image Credits: Cybersecurity from NicoElNino/Shutterstock

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