Perfection is the standard for many occupations, like accountants, surgeons and financial analysts.
On the other end of the spectrum, cybercriminals might be the biggest failures. They cast a wide net, failing thousands – perhaps millions – of times before breaching a device or network. Unfortunately, if that one successful hack is you, your livelihood could be destroyed in an instant:
Financial: Money motivates most hackers. If you’ve got it, they want it. Cyberhackers can drain bank accounts, establish new lines of credit or hold individuals and businesses hostage until they pay a ransom. In many cases, hackers can ruin someone’s credit history before they even know they’ve been hacked.
Business: When cybercriminals hack into a company’s system or network, they not only have access to that company’s finances and confidential files, but also those of their customers. Businesses that are hacked can lose faith from customers, which can ultimately choose to do business elsewhere.
Computer systems: Some hackers are more annoying than anything. They can lock a computer or network and demand a ransom, oftentimes just a few hundred dollars to release the lock. At least, that’s what they tell you at first. In the meantime, you cannot use your computer, which affects your ability to work and impacts your company’s bottom line.
Social media: Security professionals advise against creating usernames and passwords that are easy to guess, like a pet’s name or favorite sports team. Hackers comb through social media for clues before trying to gain access. Once they take control of a profile, they can change the password and post controversial statements or inappropriate photos under your account, and it’s a difficult process to regain your profile – and reputation.
Peace of mind: It’s often challenging to determine exactly what information a cyberhacker obtained. Hackers can hold information for months or years after a breach. Being the victim of a hack causes anxiety and emotional stress, making it impossible to feel 100% confident that your digital presence is secure.
Never pay a ransom. Never engage in conversations with a cyberhacker. Never let your guard down.
Every October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a national initiative to help individuals and businesses protect themselves online as threats to technology and data have become commonplace. However, cybersecurity should be a daily focus because hacks can, and do, occur 24/7, 365 days a year.
Cybercriminals are opportunistic and look for a weak link to gain access. Do not click on links or downloads from emails or texts unless you’re confident the sender is someone you know. Also, change passwords every 30 to 90 days and create complex passwords that contain letters, numbers and characters, or even entire sentences.
No individual or business has an impenetrable digital wall. These four steps can enhance protection for laptops and computers:
• Install security software that runs continuously
• Add VPN to encrypt data
• Download updates for Mac or PC every few months
• Shut off computer when not in use to break the connection
Cell phones also require protection. The following four steps offer important protection:
• Download updates for operating system and each app
• Use multifactor authentication to require two forms of ID verification
• Activate Find My iPhone or Find My Device to locate a misplaced or stolen cellphone
• Allow biometric access, either a thumbprint or facial recognition, to access phone
Cybersecurity is like a padlock for your digital life. It doesn’t guarantee a hacker will not gain access, but it decreases the likelihood of a major breach that can cause extensive damage.
About the Author
John Joyce is an owner of CRS Technology Consultants, a Cape Coral-based IT company founded in 1988. For more information, please visit CRSTC.com or call 239-542-8450.