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NCSAM 2020 - Cyber Crimes: How not to be a victim

During National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’ve raised a lot of different ways that your information could be accessed by bad actors. But what do their attacks actually look like, and what can you really do to proactively protect and recover your information and access? In today’s digital world, we need to secure our data like we would our homes, and as we exit that digital world, we need to be mindful of our cyber footprint.

To begin with, let’s highlight some of the popular attacks to beware.

  • Cyberstalking fits a little more in with the social engineering concept, but the harassment of an individual with monitoring, false accusations, and identity theft is a potentially big threat. As we’ve recommended before, you can avoid these situations by limiting the amount of data you share about yourself, use strong passwords for all of your accounts, watch out for phishing and avoid using public wifi to share sensitive information.

  • But sometimes it’s still difficult to evade bad attention. In that case, an attacker may deploy ransomware to take over your account. Ransomware is a malware, which may be included in fake ads online or through links in phishing emails, that locks down your device and doesn’t reopen it until a demand is met, usually a payment of money. Even if you pay, data from your device could likely be stolen. If this happens,

    • Isolate the infection

    • Identify the infection

    • Report

    • Determine your options

    • Restore and refresh

    • Plan to prevent recurrence

  • A common tactic, usually at an organizational level, is a DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attack. This action employs a high number of “bots” to flood the servers of a target and overwhelm them with traffic to bring down or disrupt their services. If sudden and unexpected outages occur, they could be caused by a deliberate DDoS attack.

Some services are able to show you if and/or where your information has been compromised across the internet. Thankfully, there are some more steps you can take now to protect yourself from these bad outcomes.

To start, you can use password managers, like LastPass, to track your diverse and strong passwords and keep them secure. In addition, you should be using two-factor authentication whenever possible to put your accounts behind something you know (your password) and something you have (your phone or other device). You may use services like Lifelock to employ active monitoring of your data, and be sure to freeze credit cards right away after suspicious activity.

These steps and resources are just more ways to avoid the worst effects of bad actors’ attacks, and keep in mind just how they might manifest. Employ common sense and some easily used protective software to make sure your cyber security is as strong as it can be!

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