Cyber Warefare. Cybercrimes. We hear this daily. Some of us have even become victims of Cybercrimes. We live in a world where Cybercrimes are becoming more of the norm. We wake up each day to cases of organizations being attacked regardless of the size or industry. These cases are becoming more and more common with sites where users use to purchase goods or products with their credit, cards facing more attacks. From banks to online clothing stores, there is need to have better systems in place to help protect the identity and credit details of customers and yourself. Cybercrimes is no longer something that is found in fiction movies or novels. There is an interesting article in Forbes that says 2017 will be the year of Cyber Warfare.

Cyber Warfare is not something we can marvel at in a movie theatre and think it’s not yet at our doorstep. It already is. The internet has made the world a global village. Every year, there are about 1.5 million cases of cyber-attacks. Simply put, for every 60 seconds, there are about three cyber-attacks, about 170 in every hour and about 4,000 of them every single day. It, therefore, goes without saying that anyone using the internet is vulnerable to Cybercrimes. What is even more worrying is the number of attacks that specifically target different businesses. In one year alone, IBM estimates the number of attacks on businesses to be about 16,856 times. Although most businesses have well-protected firewalls, there are still plenty of cases where the hackers are successful and have been able to steal crucial data pertaining the business or customers details information.

Why do we need to worry about Cyber Warefare?

Cyber warfare is something that can’t be ignored. Instead, organizations need to find better ways of dealing with it. In a report released by Symantec, a US Cybersecurity company, that researched countries where major hacking attempts and Cybercrimes come from, ranked the US at number one at 23.96% followed by China at 9.63% and Brazil at 5.84%. In their report, Symantec signed in to all online threats it found to trace the country source. Of course, these are very worrying statistics. Research has also shown that most of these cyber warfare attacks are carried out on governments and businesses. Reason? The two, hold crucial individual information that comes in handy in cases of identity theft and other online crimes. Perfect for Cyber Warfare.

In 2014 alone, 47% of Americans suffered cases of personal information theft due to data breaches in different large corporations. Most Cybercrimes are done by hackers who are after consumer data which they then use to commit a crime or steal money. Still, there are hackers whose main need for hacking into government or businesses systems is to release some mind-boggling information about the organization. In 2013 alone, the number of theft on consumer information went up to 64% putting the number of total money stolen due to such fraudulent activities at $18 billion. We all need to worry about Cyberattacks as it’s just not businesses that are attacked but individuals as well whether through their online businesses or through their email. Having crucial information saved somewhere in your email can be just the right motive for a hacker to commit a Cybercrime.

How can you protect your site from attacks?

Most business transactions are being conducted online. The internet has brought with it tremendous capabilities. From the use of credit cards to make payments for purchases made thousands of miles away to online transactions. Even though most people are quite educated and know the risks involved in such transfers, still they opt for that as it saves on time and money. Businesses and governments have a right to, however, ensure they do their best to protect their customers and citizens. Having better ways to detect threats and find ways of protecting personal information should be key for any organization. The fact that each year these cases continue to increase in numbers simply tells us that hackers are here to stay and people will continue to lose billions of dollars and become victims of identity theft without their own knowledge. Here is how you can protect yourself online or how organizations can lessen the likelihood of them becoming prey to Cybercrimes:

  1. Passwords

Gone are the days when you would write down your password or have your child’s or pet’s name as a password. To keep yourself safe you need to create more complicated passwords. Each time you need to create a password make use of special characters, letters and numbers. Additionally, you need to change your passwords regularly. You can also use passphrases to create your passwords and give accesses to specific sites within your organization.

  1. Have your computer/laptop secured

The number one of way doing this is by ensuring that your firewall is activated. Some antivirus protection softwares usually have this, and there will, therefore, be no need to worry about it. However, if you don’t have one, ensure that you activate your windows firewall. Firewalls help monitor the traffic that comes and goes out of your laptop. Secondly, use genuine anti-virus software to secure your laptop. Anti-virus’ need to be regularly updated to protect your laptop from viruses that can create easy access to your data.

According to a research by Microsoft, about 10% of users on Windows 8 have expired anti-virus software on their computers. A good anti-virus will not only protect your laptop from viruses but from malware as well. Last but not least, do not install cracked software. Every time you are installing a software or app on your phone or laptop, make sure that you read through and understand what it is that you are installing. Don’t install a software for the sake of. You can do this by changing your settings from standard to custom. This will ensure that nothing gets installed without you approving a few things hence keeping you alert.

  1. Data Encryption

One rule that cuts across is that you should never upload your personal information anywhere without ensuring that it’s fully encrypted. Whether you are saving it on Dropbox or Google Drive. Encrypting your data can help protect you even when such companies face Cyber-attacks.

  1. Credit Cards

One of the most common methods hackers use to steal information is through credit cards. Of course, not using credit cards is completely out of the question but you can prevent yourself from falling prey to hackers. Ensure that you occasionally review your credit card statements and in case you notice something strange pick up the phone and call your bank immediately. Most people have lost lots of money through credit cards either by giving out information to people who lie they are from their banks or by buying something online. In the event that you lose your wallet, the first thing that you need to do is call your bank and notify them and have your accounts blocked. Also, never leave your credit cards in the open. As said earlier, always monitor your credit card use.

  1. Pop ups and unknown links

Imagine you are browsing the internet, and a link or site pops up on your browser claiming that you’ve won an iPhone 8. All you need to do is click some link then share it with your friends. You are definitely going to be excited. I mean, who doesn’t want an iPhone 8? However, such scams are what most hackers use to get your personal information. Such links are 99.9% never genuine and have codes that link back to the hackers. Giving out personal information on such sites could make you a victim of Cybercrimes. As such, you need to be careful when it comes to the apps you download on your phone or the links you follow. Links telling you that your phone has some anti-virus should be fully avoided.

  1. Identity Protection

Most people due to busy schedules may not be able to find suitable ways of keeping themselves safe from Cybercrimes. Cyber-attacks happen very fast and swift. A hacker will use a malware that will sneak into your files and sneak out with your personal information and credit card details. For such people, there are plenty of companies offering Identity Protection services. What such companies do is monitor all the data you need – whether it’s your credit card information or Social Security Number – at a fee. Although most of these companies are legit, you need to perform thorough research on them before you engage with them.

  1. Keep your personal information private

Many people have fallen prey to callers who pretend they work with their bank or telco companies and needed to verify their information. Once they have convinced you, they then proceed to ask for personal details like your PIN and end up stealing from you. Make sure that you don’t share any of your credit card or mobile PIN number with anyone you don’t know on the phone. If someone calls and insists that they are from your bank, tell them that you will pay a visit to your bank. If possible, save all the legit numbers that your bank uses to contact its customers. Also, avoid sending your PIN to family or relatives via text messages.

  1. Stay Updated

In a bid to fight Cybercrimes, various sites give useful information and how to know that you have been attacked. By learning as much as you can from such sites and following talks and discussions around Cybercrimes can help you learn one or two things that can be important in helping you prevent your website from hackers.

  1. Make frequent updates

Hackers operate in very simple ways. They basically scan through thousands of websites so as to find that one window that will give them entry into your organization’s website. When doing this, they have already developed malware and viruses that will help them get all the data they want. Such malware take seconds or at most, minutes to get the job done. When you get a prompt to update a software be sure to do it immediately. Some of these updates are usually as a result of security threats. Not making the update immediately leaves your device exposed and vulnerable to attacks. Be sure that if one hacker finds a vulnerable window in your website, then multiple of them will. These can cost you big time. Always have your software updated to keep hackers at bay.

  1. Security Applications

The war against Cybercrime has seen companies spring up and develop security applications that once installed, can make it hard for hackers to actually hack into your website. Such applications work by hiding your website’s content management system (CMS) identity. Depending on your organizations need, you can choose to use the free or paid for security applications. Also, when making any transactions online, ensure the website on the browser is secure and uses HTTP followed by the website domain name. These ensure that your data and any transactions you make online are fully encrypted.

  1. File Back-up

It’s important to ensure that you have all your encrypted information backed up somewhere.  You can back up your information in different locations, and in the event, something happens to your devices, or you get hacked, you can always have a back-up of the same.

Conclusion

As governments and organizations of all calibre try their best to fight Cyber Warfare jointly, the above pointers can be a quick way if not fully bullet proof of keeping yourself safe from Cyber-attacks. One individual can’t fight Cybercrime, but with joint efforts, some steps can be made. In the event, you become a victim of Cyber-attack, make sure you call your law first or report to the authorities. Avoid using computers in open places like cyber cafes and if you must then clear all your browser details after. Always have it in mind that even your email address can be hacked and you shouldn’t, therefore, store important information. Despite the increase in Cybercrime cases, we all have a role to play and can do something little to keep hackers at bay.