Are you practicing good personal cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity refers to the measures taken to protect computer networks, devices, and data from unauthorized or criminal use. It’s also the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.
I define personal cybersecurity slightly differently than general cybersecurity. Most general cybersecurity practices focus on companies and other organizations’ practices to protect their computer systems. I consider personal cybersecurity to be the practice of individuals and families protecting their devices, home networks, privacy, identity, and data from attacks of all kinds.
Personal cybersecurity isn’t just protecting yourself from hackers online. It’s also protecting your data and privacy from bad actors who will use this data both online and offline to cause you harm.
Why are good personal cybersecurity practices important? Here are some reasons why.
1. Your livelihood can be greatly harmed by cyberattacks
Life today often involves using lots of different devices to perform various activities online. It involves having your home and the devices in it constantly connected to the Internet. It involves many companies collecting, storing, and sometimes selling important information that they gather about you online.
Some examples of this include all of your activity on Facebook, YouTube, and other social media accounts. It includes the terms you’ve searched for on Google and the sites you’ve visited. It includes paying for merchandise online at Amazon, Walmart, and any of your favorite vendors. Your online discussions and transactions with doctors, bankers, lawyers, employers, and many other organizations that involve your most sensitive information are also included.
Imagine if anyone could get any of this information at any time. They could impersonate you and access your money and damage your credit. These cybercriminals could ruin your reputation online. They could stop you from accessing the services you need. They could cost you hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars repairing the damage they’ve done. And trust me, people are trying to get at this information and use it for nefarious purposes 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
2. Cybercriminals attack in many ways
Ransomware, social engineering, spyware, man-in-the-middle, viruses, and many more types of cyberattacks exist. The ways of exploiting people, companies, and computer systems keep growing.
Additionally, many people are increasing the number of attackable devices connected to their home networks. Surveillance cameras, smart speakers, smart TVs, robot vacuums, and many other devices are wonderful conveniences to have in your home. But they also increase the number of ways a cyberattack can compromise your home network.
We also use more cloud services than ever. Each account we create is another way for a cybercriminal to attack.
And don’t forget about the tried and true phishing emails and scam phone calls. They still play a large role in cyberattacks.
3. Cyberattacks are increasing
According to the Insurance Information Institute, identity theft and fraud reports have grown 56% between 2016 and 2020. Cybercrimes were up 165% during the same period. Ransomware attacks have exploded, growing 105% worldwide in 2021. Cybercriminals are becoming more active, organized, and sophisticated. And, there are more of them than ever.
4. You can’t trust companies to protect your data
The number of data breaches grew by 137% between 2015 and 2021. Companies like Facebook, Equifax, and Google have been breached and leaked important personal information that can be used for identity theft. I’m sure some companies have been breached and don’t know it and/or haven’t announced it.
Final thoughts and how to protect yourself
This article isn’t meant to scare you, it’s just meant to make you aware. Everyone needs to practice good personal cybersecurity habits and protect themselves. I have many good cybersecurity resources on this site that can help you, including a free home network security course.
If you are looking for comprehensive personal cybersecurity protection, be sure to go get my book, The Personal Cybersecurity Manual. Anyone can follow the information in this book and keep cybercriminals at bay.