How To Protect You and Your Family From Cyberattacks

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

We are living in a virtual era where we work and attend meetings from home, even our children and wards are in virtual classes more often than not. With this becoming a way of life, you cannot eliminate every possible risk surrounding online activities, but can take precautions to reduce the risks by understanding and educating yourself and your family on how to proactively prevent security breaches.

One of the positive results from the changes brought on after the pandemic is the flexibility in how we work, learn, and play. Always with the good, comes the bad, right? Well, the downside to it is that some States no longer have snow days. With virtual classrooms, most schools no longer experience closures or delays due to inclement weather. 

As we grow more dependent upon technology, the stark reality is that cybersecurity threats are also everywhere, particularly for families. The average American family has never been more vulnerable to cybercrime. In fact, more than 15.3 million records were exposed by a data breach in 2019, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Bad actors can perpetrate their acts virtually now as well making it much harder for them to get caught.

Have you ever received a message from someone you thought you knew (probably a close friend) who may have listed you as a delegate on their Facebook account to help get their account unlocked in the event that it was? As soon as the text message arrived on your phone, you immediately clicked on that link to “help a friend in need”? Within a few seconds of clicking on that link, your friend receives another message letting her know that her Facebook password has been changed successfully. Now you begin to panic and you go back in the message to inform your friend that you never requested a password change only to find out that “your friend” never responded again.

Well, you have just been scammed by someone posing or pretending to be your best friend and not only that, you no longer have access to your phone or Facebook account and everything else you have on your phone. Behold, you are now faced with the grueling process of having everything restored back to before this all happened.

Indeed, it is a honest mistake and could happen to anyone including people in technology. You just, unknowingly, gave cybercriminals access over your phone, Facebook account and others as well.

How Exactly Does This Happen?

Cybercrime is on the rise. It is easy for the cyberthief as all they do is play on the emotions of their victims by pretending to be the troubled friend in need of help to gain access to their business account.

Your phone needs to be guarded like it is your bank account because it may as well be.

This friend, in question, just had their profile hijacked by an impostor thereby providing access to all her friends and family, her clients and their data and all of her security settings. That link sent to her phone was not to identify her; it was a nefarious link that as soon she clicked on it, it gave control of the device to the hacker as well as access to all connected account, apps, communications and many others.

Before you think you are not worth being the target of online predators. Think again! If you store any contacts on your phone, you have information that is valuable to a hacker. We all need to care about protecting our devices and account because these criminals can gain access to your authentication apps, Goggle Pay, banking apps and all of your other source of social media accounts.

Cyber Security Tips To Help Protect You and Your Family

So let us go over some of the ways you can keep you and your family safe on line. These habits will help you to recognize and counter threats to your digital safety and become less vulnerable to cyberattacks

1. Securing Your Digital DNA

There are billions of people using social media and the number continues to grow. Digital DNA detects insider threats, identifies and stops frauds and hacking on your endpoints, servers and network

Facebook is one of the largest platforms that bad actors use to obtain private information on unsuspecting members. We have surpassed the initial purpose of connecting with friends and families, sharing photos and exciting lifestyles. Now these platforms are used heavily by corporations as the main marketing tool with customers built right into it. We have built careers out of sharing and protecting information on line and at this point we are the products.

Technology Evolution

Technology has progressed to a greater level that social media giants like Goggle and Facebook can now be used to authenticate identity for applications like websites, games and anything that you can create an account for. Many employers are searching social media for prospective employees as well as acquiring new talents. Social media has become a personality check, so what you put out there really does matter.

On average, we spend nearly two hours everyday scrolling through social media and now that we have platforms connecting to apps, our phones and other devices, there is even more pressure to secure them.

2. When in Doubt, Do Not Click

Your digital DNA can reach far more than just your social media account, therefore, your social media, phone and other accounts can be hijacked with just “one click.” That is all it takes to lose access to everything:

  • Get scammed online
  • Have your identity stolen or someone you know
  • Have your profile hacked
  • Infect your computer with malware
  • Be a victim of ransomware
  • Have a child lose their identity
  • Visit a malicious webpage

Hackers are like gold miners looking for treasure and your information just may be their next best “marks.” It goes beyond just social media accounts. What if your device has your work contacts and connections? Now, that bad actor has a path to compromise your enterprise data and networks and anyone else on your contact lists.

Some links may appear as innocent, like someone you know and can sometimes happen through texting or social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many more. If it is a link you do not trust or recognize, follow your gut instincts and think before you click:

  • Log in directly to your account or type in the URL manually
  • Confirm VERIFIED and TRUSTED sources
  • Call friends or family directly

3. Apply Security Settings

In today’s world, securing information is rapidly becoming a necessity that we can have no shortage of. Each platform has different security features that you may need to familiarize yourself with, if you use them.

Securing data is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. It requires constant updates to stay ahead of any potential threats. Coordinate this with how often you reset your passwords or replace a battery in your smoke detector. It is essential because these platforms change their security options frequently and if you are not aware of the new security features, your account could be vulnerable to hackers.

4. Hide Friends List on Facebook

Make your friends and contact lists private on your social media account and be very careful who you accept as a friend. See that you do have something in common and be sure that the reason you are connecting with this individual, in the first instance, is not just because they sent you a friend request. This will help prevent scammers from been able to target people using you as a lever.

Most social media platforms offer users the option to make their profiles private which allows you to control who can view posts and what you can share with others. We all share a responsibility in protecting our personal connections online by sharing less information with the public. Incidentally, some people have been victims of stalking, bullying, harassments and many more, so keeping information safe by hiding your friends list may help save someone from harm or hurt.

5. Do Not Overshare on Social Media

To Those Who Overshare On Social Media. Do not!

In the digital age, sharing details in advance has become almost our culture in many ways. However, it has come as a price for many as oversharing personal information online can lead to identity theft or financial scams.

There are many ways that criminals can exploit personal information that is shared unnecessarily. When creating an online profile, only share the bare minimum personal information. For example, do not use your child’s real name in a post, details about where they go to school or full face photos of them to help prevent identity theft or online predators from getting a hold of them.

It is safer to create a nickname to use in a post and when they are old enough to have their own accounts, you can help them create a profile name that does not include their personal information.

  • If you share where, when or where you are with anyone at your favorite restaurant, do not post it while you are there. Wait until after you leave and only share with friends.
  • If you are going on vacation, keep your post private for only those you want to know that you are away from home.

Can these criminals find your real address online? You will be shocked!

Your digital DNA reveals secrets about you and what you have on it, so sharing online information needs to be kept at the barest minimum as there is no guaranteed privacy and too much information can be a security risk.

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Solari is an author and a content writer for ifocurs, the most-advanced digital media platform for the most diverse, most online, and most socially engaged audience in modern times. When she is not working, she enjoys travel adventures, photography, and reading literary masterpieces. She is an influencer marketing consultant; a keynote speaker, mom, and writer.

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