Keeping our devices secure and our information private seems to have become a full-time job. Cybercriminals are becoming smarter and smarter, meaning we need to spend more time securing our network and devices while going about our normal lives.
But…what are we defending ourselves against? We’re told time and time again to defend ourselves, but from what? And, if you’re like me, you heard that an anti-virus is enough to protect ourselves from all threats on the Internet, which is just not true!
Let’s go over a few cyber-risks that haunt 2020 that cannot be stopped with an anti-virus, then discuss how you can protect yourself from these risks.
The Cyber-Risks We Face in 2020
The risks I want to talk about today are threats that have grown in popularity and intensity since the late 2010’s. That’s not to say these didn’t exist before then, but the threat they represent definitely grew from 2017 and onward.
1. The Risk of Ransomware
The late 2010’s saw an increase in ransomware attacks. You might remember the biggest one, WannaCry, the ransomware attack that caused millions of dollars in damage across the world.
Cybercriminals prefer ransomware due to how easy it is to deploy and the low chance they have of being caught. Ransomware can lock your device and ruin all of your files, so it’s best to avoid any traces of ransomware.
2. The Risk of Phishing
Phishing has been around since the inception of the Internet—since scammers realized the limitless potential the Internet contained when it came to manipulating and scamming other people.
Scammers “phish” by using social engineering in order to trick unsuspecting people into giving out personal information. This can be done through emails, phone calls, or even websites themselves.
3. The Risk of Crypto-Jacking
I doubt you plan for your computer to be converted into one cog of a large cryptocurrency-making machine; most wouldn’t care for that. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have taken to crypto-jacking, the hacking of devices in order to use them for cryptocurrency mining.
Not only is this an invasion of privacy, but crypto-jacking can slow down your device considerably, even ruining it if it goes too far.
4. The Risk of IoT-Based Attacks
The Internet of Things took over the 2010’s, with devices such as Amazon’s Alexa smart speakers paving the way for smart home devices. Nowadays, we have dozens of smart home devices lining up store shelves—Phillip Hue lights, dozens of smart speakers, and vice versa.
One problem: these IoT devices lack proper security, and contain security vulnerabilities and backdoors that experienced cybercriminals can take advantage of at any time.
How to Protect Yourself Against These Threats
Now that we’ve gone over a few of the cyber-risks plaguing the Internet nowadays, I want to go over the ways we can protect ourselves. More importantly, how you can protect yourself.
1. Use a VPN
Encryption is key to securing your device and protecting your personal information. There are a few ways to go about encrypting your data, but one fool-proof way to do so is to use a VPN, a virtual private network.
A VPN actively encrypts the data your device sends out on a network, making it near-impossible for any cybercriminal to intercept said data and steal your information through your network, no matter how experienced they are.
2. Use TrueCrypt
But there’s more than one type of encryption. Sure, actively encrypting data on your network works wonders for security, but why not be even more secure by encrypting your files? Fortunately, you can do just that with TrueCrypt, one of the most popular encryption programs out there.
While it hasn’t been updated in a few years, TrueCrypt is a reliable way to encrypt your files, folders, programs, and whatever else you need encrypting. I recommend using TrueCrypt side-by-side with a VPN for maximum security.
3. Use Anti-Malware
While an anti-virus isn’t enough to protect you from every threat on the Internet, I still recommend using one alongside an anti-malware program. Anti-malware programs target lesser-known/not-as-dangerous forms of malware that anti-virus programs may miss, such as adware, keyloggers, and vice versa.
Malwarebytes is free, takes little to no time to install, and works well alongside anti-virus programs.
4. Use Password Managers
Using the same password over and over again for multiple accounts opens you up to dozens of threats. Cybercriminals will have an easier time accessing your accounts, stealing your information, and ruining your online presence.
Many people do this anyways, so I implore you not to, and instead use a password manager. A password manager allows you to generate unique passwords and store them in a secure place—no hassle required!
5. Use Vulnerability Scanners
Lastly, you should think about using a vulnerability scanner from time to time. A vulnerability scanner doesn’t necessarily protect you from anything, but it does act as a window into your network, allowing you to see any potential vulnerabilities plaguing it.
There’s no need to use this often—just every once in a while. Checkups are important. Not just for the doctor, but for your network, too.