Cyber Security Awareness Month -- How to Protect Yourself and Your Business
Every hour criminal activity on the internet claims 97 victims in South Africa. Of these, the majority were fooled into clicking malicious links, or divulging sensitive information. The truth is, poor cyber ‘hygiene’ is helping cyber criminals launch their tactics successfully. In light of Cyber Security Awareness Month, we look at some of the latest trends so that you can improve your cyber ‘hygiene’ to better protect yourself, and your business from this very real threat.
1. What is cyber ‘hygiene’ and how can you improve it?
Cyber ‘hygiene’ refers to everything you do online via your computer or smartphone.
Are you creating strong passwords, and using different ones for each platform? Are you using multi-factor authentication and changing passwords regularly? Do you only access wifi networks that you know you can trust? Is your wifi network at home secured? Do you run updated plugins and install software programs updates when they become available, particularly your antivirus program? Do you only install legitimate applications that you access from a your official device store? And do you never ever click on suspicious links?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to all of the above – you are pretty hygienic, keep it up!
2. Social engineering – If it sounds fishy, it is!
Social engineering has taken on a type of ‘artform’ of its own. Cyber criminals aren’t only sending bulk email campaings that clearly look spammy anymore. Many hackers have realised they achieve better results with a more targeted approache. Be careful what you reveal about yourself on social media as this information can help them tailor their attack.
Let’s think about it clearly:
- Legitimate business leads won’t occur via SMS or Whatsapp from people you’ve never heard.
- A relative you don’t know won’t leave you money.
- A parcel you didn’t order is not coming your way.
- Your bank will NEVER ask you to confirm any sensitive information via any platform.
- You didn’t win that competition you didn’t enter into.
If it’s sounds suspicious, or too good to be true, it IS! There’s also often a level of urgency around the phishing/smishing scam. Look out!
3. Ransomware-as-a-service means even the amateurs are launching ‘deadly’ campaigns
Just like other forms of criminal activity, cybercrime is lucrative. Sadly, there are technological wizards out there using their superpowers for evil and now even ‘reselling’ their software making it more affordable and easy for amateur cybercriminals to deploy advanced attacts. It is therefore essential to make cyber security a priority in your business and in your personal life.
Man-in-the-middle occurs when a network has been compromised and a cyber criminal hacks an email session between two parties. Example: You are about to pay over a hefty deposit for an upcoming holiday. But unknowing to you, the travel agency has been compromised. So what appears to you as an email from the travel agency with your invoice has in fact been hijacked and the banking details that reflect on the attached .pdf (or in the email itself) has been changed by the hacker (the man-in-the-middle) to another banking account.
This tactic is costing thousands of companies millions every year because on the surface there’s nothing suspicious about the email whatsoever. Be proactive and suspicious of each and every mail, especially when banking details are involved, or banking details are changed suddenly. Always follow up.
5. Your mobile phone is your biggest ally and greatest threat
Mobile phones are no longer just for making and taking calls. In fact, many don’t even need a computer for personal use anymore because their smartphones are a simple and convenient tool to manage everything from banking and emails to online shopping, not to mention the various Apps, games etc. that can be accessed for entertainment purposes via this “always on you” device. Naturally, cybercriminals are aware of this, which means you need to be cautious. Only install applications and games etc. from the official store. Use an antivirus programme, and please DON’T click on links from people you don’t know.
At Domains.co.za, we believe the future is online. However, digitising one’s business is unfortunately not a single-pronged approach. The more digital you take your business, the better your security measures should become. Securing one’s website is only the beginning. Every single device has to be secured, and each and every employee with access to the network needs to receive regular training.
Cyber security is not something you only need to think about, or apply, when you’re at the office. It can affect anyone – at home, at work or even while travelling for business or for pleasure. Always be cautious and apply multi-factor authentication to all your personal and professional accounts and platforms.