With billions of people online every day and not experiencing any problems, you could be forgiven for thinking that the chance of you being hacked and information stolen is very small. You would be wrong. There are constant attempts by criminals to hack into the databases of commercial and public organizations, and many attempts to access the private information of individuals.
You should take cyber-security seriously, either for your business or as an individual (or both) because if you don’t, you could find yourself severely compromised. The world is becoming more and more networked and that means that networks need to be protected from cyber-attacks.
Unfortunately, the people behind such attacks generally have a head start against those organizations that have to protect themselves, and that makes for potentially very dangerous situations.
A global menace
You may have come across some of the major cyber-attacks from new sources, including the accessing of vast numbers of emails from the Democratic Party, and in particular, Hillary Clinton, during the recent presidential election. The allegations are that these attacks came from Russia, and it appears that most of the security services in the US think this is the case.
In the United Kingdom, the world-renowned National Health Service came under attack, causing serious disruption to medical services in a number of hospitals and potentially putting the lives of people at risk.
Global companies, such as the giant pharmaceutical business, Merck, have been the targets of cybercrime and it appears that no organization is safe unless the right security measures are in place. Even then, it’s possible for cyber defenses to be breached; the reason why cybersecurity should be right at the top of your list of things to do properly.
Learning about how to put the right defenses in place is key to how you can make yourself and your business safer, and Maryville’s masters in cyber-security is an online learning route you could take to equip yourself with the necessary information. An online course may also give you the skills to safeguard your business, help protect other businesses and keep all your personal information secure.
The dangers of cybercrime
There are two main categories of attacks.
Breaches in data security can have a devastating effect on your business or yourself, because criminals may access your personal data, trade secrets, intellectual property or information that relates to mergers, bids and prices.
Sabotage relates to attempts to disable the systems and infrastructure of an organization but could also be in the form of a denial of service attack. The latter means that web services can be flooded with bogus messages and completely up a network, leaving you unable to access it.
Emails in particular may contain attempts to phish information from you including a link that will lead to what appears to be a genuine site, perhaps your bank or the IRS, and encourage you to put in your password and bank details to “update” your information. The information is then used to access your personal details and take money from an account or pretend you are due a tax rebate.
For individual phishing the best defense is to be suspicious when asked for these types of information (genuine financial and public institutions will not ask for these details online) and report such phishing to whichever organization it appears to come from.
There are so many scams around that it can be hard to keep track of everything that is thrown at you through the internet, but good security software can direct the majority of these into your spam folder for easy deletion. Sound advice is never to click on a link in an email if you have any suspicion about it.
Be aware of what can be taken
It isn’t just passwords or bank details that can be taken by cyber criminals. They could access sensitive emails, as has frequently happened by the hackers, photographs and other information that should not be in the public domain. If you are concerned, and you should be, use strong encryption software to add layers of security to your data and regularly change your passwords.
You may have multiple passwords and you should keep these in a secure place. If, as many people do, you use one password for all your various online accounts, you are at added risk if your security is penetrated. Make all passwords difficult to access by using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols and you’re on the way to safer working online.