GUEST ESSAY: A new year, a familiar predicament — consumers face intensifying cybersecurity risks

By Kobi Kalif

At the start of 2023, consumers remain out in the cold when it comes to online protection.

Related: Leveraging employees as human sensors

Malicious online actors grow ever more sophisticated, making cybersecurity as big a concern for everyday consumers as it ever has been.

These days, ordinary people are facing increasing—and more complex—threats than ever before. For example, ReasonLabs researchers recently uncovered a scam that used stolen credit cards and fake websites to skim monthly charges off of unsuspecting consumers.

Because of scams like this, it is vitally important for individuals and families to be aware of their potential exposure to cybercriminals, and to take proactive steps to protect themselves.

There are many ways in which we can be exposed to potential cyberattacks. For instance, phishing, one of the most common, is a social engineering attack used to steal user data. Cybercriminals can pose as someone the victim knows and trusts, and request credit card details or login credentials.

Sometimes, they will even ask the victim to buy gift cards, which they then redeem. 2021 saw a massive increase in phishing attacks, and that trend has continued into 2022. Even events like the World Cup are being used by cyber criminals to target unsuspecting victims through things like fake streaming sites designed to steal private information.

With the rise in social media, criminals have more platforms with which to target potential phishing victims. Since many people use the same passwords across social media platforms and for sites for banks or credit cards, a criminal needs access to just one account to gain access to every account.

Even if 99% of all phishing attacks are ignored, all it takes is one successful attempt out of thousands to do serious harm. It can cost a company millions of dollars, or lead to individual identity theft and invasion of privacy.

Cybercriminals often target the young. Even if you think you’re not susceptible, your child may not be as knowledgeable. Criminals who can infiltrate your children’s device through things like ‘free’ games, ringtones or other files that hide malware, can gain access to your entire family’s devices.

With more and more people working remotely, unsecured home or public WiFi networks represent a security risk not only to individuals but to their companies as well. Since many people are now working from home at least partially, vulnerabilities at home are vulnerabilities at work, and threaten to put a company’s data at risk. Unsecured Wi-Fi in the home can present a way for criminals to gain access to secure business data.

Cyber hygiene basics

Despite all the threats, there are many ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your business. To begin with, keep all software across your devices updated to the latest version. This includes antivirus software, operating systems, and individual apps. Don’t ignore upgrade notifications—they are often for security reasons, based on specific threats from bad actors.

Be careful when using your credit card information on unfamiliar shopping sites. Make sure those sites are legitimate before handing over your money. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Be aware of phishing attempts via email or text messages. Never click on suspicious links or respond to messages from senders you don’t know. Phishing attempts can be very sophisticated, so be sure to thoroughly analyze every message—including the email address that sent it to you—before you respond.

And it’s important to remember that no legitimate merchant, bank, or government agency will ever ask you for password or credit card information by text message or email, so don’t be fooled by a message that pretends to be from a store, your bank or from the IRS.

Protect your privacy by investing in tools that help protect you and your online activity. For example, it’s crucial to install an antivirus solution that automatically defends your digital devices from cyberattacks by predicting, preventing, and addressing them in real time.

Security tools and services

ReasonLabs offers an industry-leading antivirus solution, RAV Endpoint Protection, which provides a defensive bulwark against any and all malicious activity users face across their personal devices—from viruses and malware, to ransomware, phishing and other cyber risks.

Kalif

You can also invest in a virtual private network (VPN) for use when you are connected to a public network. VPNs route your data through secure servers and networks to protect your personal information from prying eyes. ReasonLabs’ RAV VPN enables users to confidentially and securely browse the internet anywhere in the world.

With so many threats out there, it may seem overwhelming. But by taking steps to protect your personal information, like keeping your software updated, and by being vigilant about clicking on suspicious links, or responding to messages from unknown sources, you can protect yourself.

Cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated by the day, and it’s crucial that you recognize some of the telltale signs of malicious activity so that you can keep yourself and your family safe.

About the essayist: Kobi Kalif is co-founder and CEO of ReasonLabs,  a New York-based supplier of advanced EDR platform services.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone