Last Thursday, 27th of July, hackers with ties to Beijing has gained access to the USA.
The email account of US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns was penetrated in an espionage operation that is likely to have compromised at least hundreds of thousands of individual US government emails, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The story cited persons familiar with the situation as saying that Daniel Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, was also hacked in the larger eavesdropping operation revealed earlier this month by Microsoft.
It happened to diplomats, and it can happen to you too.
Cyber attacks have been ranked as the fifth most dangerous risk in 2020, and have become the new norm in both the public and private sectors. This dangerous industry will continue to develop, with IoT cyber assaults alone estimated to treble by 2025. Cybercrime, which includes everything from theft or embezzlement to data hacking and destruction, is up 600% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly every industry has had to embrace new solutions and it forced companies and individuals to adapt, quickly.
My 10 Tips to Avoid Cyber Attacks
With the growing possibility of hackers misusing your data, putting in place systems to prevent data security breaches is the most responsible line of action, following having enough professional data breach insurance.
Data breach regulations range by state, therefore there are different considerations to consider based on where your firm is located. Notifications about the breach, what is covered, and penalties will vary depending on the incident and state you live in.
If you wish to keep yourself safe from cyberattacks, here are my top 10 tips for you:
1. Keep Software and Devices Updated
I can’t stress this enough – always keep your software and devices up to date. Regularly updating your operating system, applications, and antivirus software is a must, as these updates often include critical security patches that help protect you from the latest threats.
2. Strengthen Password Security
Passwords are like keys to our online world, so use strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or pet names. Instead, opt for a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
If you have trouble remembering multiple passwords, consider using a password manager to securely store them.
3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-Factor Authentication, or 2FA, adds an extra layer of security to your accounts. When enabled, you’ll need to provide a second verification code or authentication method (e.g., a text message or fingerprint) along with your password. This makes it much harder for attackers to gain access to your accounts even if they manage to steal your password.
4. Be Cautious of Phishing Attempts
Phishing is one of the most common cyber attack methods. You must stay vigilant and be cautious of suspicious emails, links, and messages, especially those asking for sensitive information. Rememeber, legitimate organizations will never ask you to provide passwords or personal information via email.
5. Secure Your Home Network
Yes. Your home Wi-Fi network is a gateway to your digital life. Secure it with a strong, unique password and enable encryption (WPA2 or WPA3) to prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, change the default router login credentials and consider setting up a firewall for an added layer of protection.
6. Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi
Sure, public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but they are often unsecured, making them prime targets for hackers. Avoid accessing sensitive information or making online transactions while connected to public Wi-Fi. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and protect your privacy.
7. Regularly Backup Your Data
Data loss can be devastating, whether due to cyber attacks or hardware failures. Regularly backup your important files and data to external hard drives or cloud storage services. This way, even if you fall victim to a cyber attack, you can restore your data without paying a ransom.
8. Educate Yourself and Family Members
Stay informed about the latest cyber threats and attack methods. Educate yourself and your family members about online safety. Openly discuss potential risks and establish guidelines for safe online behavior, especially for children who may be more susceptible to online dangers.
9. Be Cautious with Social Media and Online Sharing
Think, think, and think before you click. Be mindful of the information you share on social media platforms. Oversharing personal details can make you a target for cyber attacks or identity theft. Review your privacy settings and limit the amount of personal information visible to the public.
10. Avoid Untrusted Websites and Downloads
Lastly, always verify the credibility of websites before providing any personal information. Avoid downloading files or software from untrusted sources as they may contain malware or viruses that can compromise your security.
Think Before You Click
Years ago, cybersecurity was focused on guarding the perimeter and then responding to threats. This strategy is no longer effective. There is no longer a fixed perimeter to defend with hybrid and remote labor. Also, the growing volume and sophistication of attacks makes it extremely hard to eliminate all threats. Organizations that continue to be reactive are fighting a lost war.
The next few months and years will have its own share of surprises. There will be new threats, new technology and new business challenges that we may not see coming. But when you’re prepared for the majority of risks, it’s easier to make the changes needed when surprises occur.