Lifestyle

How to protect yourself from cybercriminals


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What with the pandemic and the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the world appears to be in a state of hyper awareness, especially when it comes to social media and cybersecurity.

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Everyone from corporations to private companies to folks just checking their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok feeds, are being super cyber mindful.

That said – anyone connected to a smart device, a computer, a phone, and even a baby monitor, are  vulnerable to hack attacks, especially during such drastic times in the world.

Research shows data breaches have grown in intensity and frequency since the start of the  pandemic, and cyber crime has ramped up big time, costing companies billions of dollars.  Cybercriminals capitalize on confusion and uncertainty, reports CNBC (cnbc.com), with experts reporting different kinds of attacks on the rise – especially during times of upheaval or change.

According to Comparitech (comparitech.com), a tech company specializing in cybersecurity and online privacy, online protection is considered a top priority in many countries, including Canada, where cybercrime rates continue to increase, with both individuals and businesses being affected.

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The company reported that successful attacks have affected 78% of Canadian companies in one year alone. “Canada has its own unique cybercrime and cybersecurity landscape. Ransomware, phishing attacks, data breaches, and various types of fraud are all commonplace in the country but to varying extents compared to its neighbour,” said company officials on the website.

(The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security reports ransomware is the most common cyberthreat Canadians face.)

Comparitech is reporting that global cybercrime damages are predicted to cost up to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, and that data breaches have grown in intensity and frequency in recent months. The company states there were 153 million new malware samples from March 2021 to Feb. 2022 – “a nearly 5% increase on the previous year, which saw 145.8 million.”

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The company reported that, in 2019, 93.6% of malware was “polymorphic” – meaning it has the  ability to constantly change its code to evade detection, and that almost 50% of business PCs  and 53% of consumer PCs that got infected once were re-infected within the same year.

The news is alarming. Research shows there’s one successful attack ever 1.12 second.

Corporations, businesses, hospitals, medical institutions, government offices – they’re all on  hyper-diligent to any cyberattacks, and Comparitech is reporting many Canadian companies are getting a stronger grip on deflecting cybercriminals.

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But, what about the teen sending photos to friends on protected sites? Or someone downloading recipes from the web, or parents posting innocent baby birthday videos on their TikTok account?

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These are the most vulnerable to cyberattacks.

One can only imagine how violated a person must feel when their social account has been hacked and held ransom. Many report the feeling is akin to being sucker-punched in the gut. Victims scramble to find quick answers – report it to the platform? Call the  police? Deliver on the demands?

Former RCMP senior cybercrime investigator, Keir Humble, now working with cybersecurity specialists ESET Canada (eset.com), says getting your account back isn’t a guarantee if you’ve been hacked. But there are steps you should take if this should ever happen to you.

Humble offers the following tips:

  • Start with your local police of jurisdiction and report the incident to them first. They will notify you if this particular incident is outside of their operating capability. Only call 911 if it’s immediately life-threatening.
  • The next stop will depend on how serious the crime is. The Ontario Provincial Police conducts cybercrime investigations, as does the RCMP, however, the RCMP are usually only engaged in the most serious crimes involving threats of a national security nature.
  • The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security collects crime statistics but does not actively investigate cybercrimes. However, reporting a cybercrime to them is still useful to the community as a whole, as they share with, and receive information from, both domestic and  international law enforcement partner agencies, and may also be able to provide some guidance.
  • Oldie but a goody: stronger passwords! Change all passwords immediately, and ensure passwords are not reused on multiple websites to ensure the intrusion goes no further than it already has. Resort to a trustworthy and reliable Password Manager to help avoid writing down or memorizing various passwords and the application can help you create much stronger password combinations.
  • .There is a variety of 2FA/MFA systems that social media services use. What most of them have in common is that a one-time code is generated on, or sent to, an authentication device so you can input it together with your password, thus providing you with access to your account. This can help impede a cyberattack if someone’s trying to change your account settings and changing your passwords on the backend.
  • .It’s not worth paying out the ransom because it doesn’t guarantee the cybercriminal will turnover your account. If anything, you further the cause of the criminal to hold others’ accounts for ransom, and it’s likely that your account will be targeted again.

Also:

“We encourage all victims to report cybercrime activities to law enforcement,” notes the website for the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS).

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca) has an excellent site full of helpful recommendation on what to do if you are a victim of fraud, as well as how to report fraud.

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