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Cybercrime, ranging from bank account hacking to phishing (in which fraudulent emails are sent with the aim of obtaining data or cash from the recipient) are usually very vast.
A study by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates that the cost of cybercrime might exceed $100 billion a year.
While hackers hone their craft of manipulating computer users, below are seven ways you can protect yourself from their attacks:
Maintain clean machine
Keep any device connected to the Internet free of malware infections. Make sure you’re running up-to-date security software, operating systems and applications. This is important because application updates often include security advances.
Have long, strong, unique passwords
Create a password you can remember but that’s difficult for others to guess. Lock your mobile devices and tablets. Thirty per cent to half of users have not enabled a password or PIN on their mobile devices.
Avoid social engineering
When in doubt, throw it out. An antenna should go up if a pop-up threatens you to act immediately … or else. Do not click!
Censor yourself on social networks
How much of your data is public? What do you post about yourself, location, habits, plans? Disclosing where you’re taking your vacation or turning on the tracker enables identity theft.
In addition, be mindful of what you post online about others. We sit on vast amounts of data concerning family, friends and colleagues. Be a good steward of that information.
Use secure websites
There are simple ways to ensure that a website is secure. Make sure the URL begins with “https,” as such sites encrypt log-in information before sending it to the server, thus keeping it safe from hackers. You also can check for an icon that looks like a lock somewhere in the browser window.
Back up your files
Ransomware is a malware that places restrictions on a computer that can be lifted only when payment is made. It is one of the latest developments in hacking. For example, Cryptolocker scrambles files with essentially unbreakable encryption and demands a ransom to retrieve them.
Backing up files on an external hard drive will help keep them safe, even if those on a computer are deleted.
The best way to ensure that online accounts are safe is to have a separate computer for banking. An alternative for the average person is to ask about which security services your bank offers, like multifactor authentication.