Biz Tips: October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Biz Tips: October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Biz Tip:

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Now is the perfect time to brush up on keeping yourself and your information safe online. Each year, cybercriminals come up with new ways to defraud individuals and businesses alike on the Internet. Any information that you provide on the Internet, whether it’s on Facebook or through your banking institution, is at risk.

It can be overwhelming to keep up with all of the ways that you are at risk, especially if you’ve been a victim of cybercrime in the past. But if we can understand the most common types of cybercrime and the type of information they target, we can be more prepared in keeping ourselves safe.

So, to spread awareness for cybersecurity in the month of October, here are the five most common types of cyber threats and some ways you can protect yourself against them.

1. Malware

MALicious softWARE is one of the most common cybercrime schemes. Malware is constantly evolving, and there are many different ways cybercriminals can attack your computer or device via malware. From Trojans to worms, spyware, to ransomware, malware is one of the most effective tools that criminals have at their disposal to steal your personal information.

For example, one type of malware involves the ability to spy on your keystrokes in order to steal your username and password information.

The good news is that there are plenty of effective anti-virus services on the market which neutralize most malware attacks. Just make sure to keep any anti-virus software you have active and up-to-date on all of your devices.

2. Phishing

Phishing involves cybercriminals using email or other electronic communications to solicit personal information (passwords, account numbers, etc.) from a business or individual by posing as a legitimate organization. Many times, this takes the form of the criminal posing as an individual’s banking institution to get access to their checking account or credit card information.

The best way to protect yourself against this type of attack is to use extreme caution when opening emails and clicking on email links. If an email appears “phishy,” don’t open it; if you do open it, definitely don’t click any links. The link could take you to a form to provide personal information, and it could even install malware onto your device. To be better safe than sorry, always verify the sender of your emails if they seem unusual. Even if it is your friend or coworker, give them a call or text to make sure it was them.

3. Identity Theft

Identity theft has been on the rise for the past twenty or so years due to the rise of computer networks and digital data sharing. Our personal information is less private than ever and ripe for picking by cybercriminals. Your info can be stolen through phishing attacks and malware attacks, and more recently, through dark web purchases. Having your identity stolen can have many long-term negative effects on your financial stability, credit score, etc.

The best way to protect yourself against identity theft is to monitor your credit reports regularly. You should also enroll in texting or email notification from your banking institutions to confirm any suspicious transactions. Also, use a password manager and change your passwords on a regular basis. The worst thing to do is to use the same password for multiple accounts (cybercriminals love this behavior).

4. Debit and Credit Card Fraud

This type of fraud is similar to identity theft, except it typically involves just your card information and not your full identity. However, it is still a huge inconvenience to have to start a claim with your bank, cancel your card and order a new one. Also, with the rise in online shopping, debit and credit card fraud is seen as an increasingly attractive scheme for cybercriminals.

Follow the same advice for identity theft to protect yourself from this type of fraud.

5. Credential Breaches

Username and password breaches typically occur from either malware attacks, phishing attacks, or large company data breaches. But the common theme is that the criminal gains access to your credentials, and can then do God-knows-what once they’re in your account.

The best way to protect yourself against this threat is to use a different password for every one of your accounts. That sounds insane, right? Nobody can remember that many passwords. But luckily, there are many password manager services on the market that make it easy to manage all of your passwords. Also, try to use a different password for all of your most private accounts, like your banking accounts.

Cybersecurity in the Domain World

While these suggestions are all geared to the individual, businesses can also use similar safeguards on a wide scale. Specifically, when we think about phishing attacks, a lot of them are done using look-alike “spoof” domain names to pose as real, legitimate websites. What if you operated a business on the domain Llama.com? It would be smart to consider purchasing and or registering the domain LIama.com. Did you notice the capital i? What if your business was like Paypal or handled sensitive information? What if a scammer purchased the domain and started messaging customers? According to WebRoot, there is an average of 1.5M phishing sites created monthly!

There are other additional products that instead of just a company registering just one domain they can block entire segments of domains. Those services are called blocking products. AdultBlock+ and Domain Name Blocking Services, offered through domain registrars and some domain brokerages offer protection against this type of cyber threat. Specifically, AdultBlock blocks all registrations of trademarked domains across the adult-themed gTLDs, .xxx, .sex, .porn, and .adult. Imagine being a household brand and someone launches a satirical adult-oriented website using the company’s brand? Adult searches on the Internet make up more searches than Netflix, Google, and Amazon combined. The risk of being associated with an adult-themed scam is increasing, and not something most companies would want for their brand reputation.

For very short money buying “Domain Insurance” that protects a companies brand, and reputation is worth the peace of mind.

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