While you no longer have to physically be at your bank to make payments or shop at your favourite online stores, what risks do you reckon this digital comfort holds for your online security?
With the increasing ease technology brings to our daily lives also comes a myriad of imminent digital threats for every time we perform an action online. Over time, these digital traps have devised sophisticated malwares to lure unsuspecting users such that they go undetected. At just the click of a link, an attacker could have full access to your personal information, just enough to wreak untold havoc. Examples of the various forms digital/cyber crime could take include and is not limited to the following:
The above-mentioned are just a few of the rampant digital scams out there.
While many are aware of this, there’s an untold ignorant population of people who leave reckless digital footprints on every website they visit. Let’s take a look at the most staggering cybercrime stats and trend in the past year.
Long gone are the days where we used to have physical bank/ financial heists, now cyber/ digital crimes account for the largest-growing crime in the whole world. For a clearer context, the profits generated by digital crimes worldwide outweighs and can stand toe to toe with the national GDP of most developed countries. The digital crime industry generated more than $1.5 trillion in the year 2018 entering into 2019 and if we were to rank by country GDP, profits from digital crime outweigh Australia’s country GDP which stands at $1.4 trillion. For further clearer context, if digital crimes were to be a country, at $1.5 trillion in profits, its GDP data would rank 13th in the whole world! Absolutely terrifying if you think outside of the number being just mere statistics and that these are real lives being ruined.
Another corner of the digital world so loved by many, especially millennials– Social Media, contributes hugely to an industry notorious for the sale of personal data. This industry churns out over $600 million every year for poaching personal data like usernames, emails and even passwords.
Ranking top as one of the most notorious forms of digital attacks is social engineering attacks. This involves using psychological blackmail and manipulation into tricking users to give out sensitive information like credit card details and/or passwords. Year after year, reports of social engineering attacks increase by over 16%.
Yet another very common scam that poses great security risks to both businesses and individuals alike is the email phishing scam. Here, scam artists send out emails designed to look like they are from reputable organizations and attach phishing links which an unsuspecting user clicks and they are left compromised.
As relentlessly as cyber-scammers devise new sophisticated ways to trap unsuspecting users is just how much internet users need to always stay on-guard to ensure their daily online experience is safe and secure. So how can you ensure to keep a safe digital footprint?
Always check that the website you’re visiting is secure before inputting any personal information on the platform. How do you confirm this? Everytime you visit a website, on the address bar, you should check for whether the URL starts with https:// with a small locked padlock in front of it.
What your address bar should look like if you’re visiting a safe site:
What your address bar looks like while an unsafe site:
This means that any private information (for example, passwords and credit card numbers) you send through the site is private and secure.
A lot of people just browse away and it’s not common knowledge that their internet service provider can literally see every step they take online. This is possible because of something called an IP address, which you can literally think of as a dog tag/leash to keep tabs on your every online footprint. It’s why using a “mask” (VPN) is so important, because it helps to route your online activity to a private server that is available to only you.
As mentioned prior, you want to be wary of clicking links from emails that look like they’re from reputable companies but aren’t. You should be especially wary if these emails have no prior affiliation to you, what you do or any of your interests. Generally speaking though, even if you think you know who or where the email is from, take extra precautions before clicking on any links and/or attachments.
Quite a number of people use their first names with a mix of their birth dates as passwords and think all is good and fine. That’s making yourself a bait too easy for attackers. A good password should contain a mi of alphabets (lower & uppercase), numbers and symbols. For even better protection, set up two-factor authentication for every app you use. It adds a second layer of protection after regular passwords by requiring extra info such as a pin number or fingerprint.
With the ease technology brings also comes sophisticated cyber attacks, this means you have to constantly be one step ahead to ensure a safe online experience.