in the U.S.: 791,790. That figure marks a 69% increase from 2019, resulting in total reported losses of $4.2 billion. The top three reported crimes were phishing scams, non-payment/non-delivery scams and extortion.
In a four-month period, from January to April 2020, an INTERPOL assessment of global cybercrime identified 907,000 spam messages, 737 malware incidents and 48,000 malicious URLs, all connected to Covid-19.
Cyberattacks are on the rise, targeting individuals, small businesses, large corporations and government agencies. Criminals are developing more sophisticated techniques and taking advantage of pandemic-related security vulnerabilities — and it is more critical than ever for you to take steps to protect yourself and your family against cyberthreats.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, created by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which serves as a timely reminder to scrutinize your current security practices, address vulnerabilities and establish stronger protections. If you implement the following three cybersecurity measures, you will dramatically increase your online safety.
But remembering a long list of complex, randomly generated passwords isn’t feasible for the average person — which is why you need a password manager. A good password manager helps you create and manage stronger passwords, storing them in a secure vault that communicates with browsers to enter passwords from saved accounts.
2. Malware Protection
Malware, short for “malicious software,” broadly describes any intrusive software that cybercriminals use to steal sensitive data and cause damage to computers or systems. Common types of malware include viruses, worms, adware and ransomware.
Malware attacks increased in the U.S. in 2020, according to the findings of the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report. There has been an uptick in ransomware attacks in particular; ransomware is now involved in 10% of all data breaches. Installing malware protection technologies on your computers and devices detects, blocks and removes threats before they can do any damage.
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop or in a hotel, leave your data vulnerable to digital eavesdropping or theft by anyone using the same network. A virtual private network (VPN) hides your IP address and creates a secure, encrypted online connection. It essentially establishes a private data tunnel that only you have access to, ensuring no one else can track or hack your personal information or browsing habits.
Data from the Verizon report showed that organizations that failed to use VPNs or multi-factor authentication made up a large percentage of cybercrime victims targeted during the pandemic.
What To Look For In A Cybersecurity Provider
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by options when you start researching cybersecurity providers. Which features do you really need? How much is a reasonable monthly fee? Is it better to find individual providers or an all-in-one service?
Everyone’s needs are different, and only you can answer these questions. To find the best provider or providers for your individual cybersecurity needs, start with these three actions.
1. Compare Features And Prices
Make a checklist of your must-have features in a cybersecurity plan. Beyond a password manager, malware protection and a VPN, what else do you need to protect yourself from cyberthreats? Some examples include: credit monitoring, identity theft and fraud protection, cloud-based data backup and parental controls.
Browse and compare features and prices online. If you have a tight budget, some providers use a freemium model — meaning that a basic plan is free, and you can opt to upgrade to a premium plan. Don’t forget to check the security measures built into the software or hardware you already have, like macOS or Windows Defender antivirus software.
2. Read Reviews
Look for trustworthy third-party reviews of providers to narrow down your short list. Be skeptical of reviews that seem overly negative or complimentary, as they may come from a biased source. Websites like G2, Capterra, CNET and PCMag are helpful for comparing plans and weighing pros and cons.
3. Test And Evaluate
Test-drive the providers you’re interested in. Take advantage of a free trial if it’s offered, or do a one-month paid subscription to see if a plan meets your expectations. Search for providers that check all the boxes on your list and fit your budget, and commit only when you find the right plan or plans.
Cyberthreats are becoming more complicated and costly for average citizens, but you can keep your personal information safer without expending much time, effort or money. Start with these simple steps, and rest easy knowing you have a strong cybersecurity plan in place.