It’s estimated that nearly 78 percent of all Americans use the internet, many on a daily basis. This number isn’t that astonishing, but what is disheartening are the incidents of cyber-attacks on these unsuspecting individuals. According to the security firm Verisign, approximately 6.2 percent of all transactions carried out in the United States were fraudulant. Of these, nearly half were committed in a foreign country. To avoid falling victim to malware, hackers and scams, Americans must educate themselves about the multitude of cyber threats and criminals lurking behind the safety of anonymity and a computer screen.
Here are the Top Four Internet Security Threats:
4. Identity Theft
It’s estimated that nearly 15 million US citizens have their identity pilfered and used for fraudulent reasons each year, and the sum total by these individuals is over $50 billion. As identity thieves become more sophisticated, consumers must react by remaining vigilant, and avoid making unnecessary mistakes while online. The most effective place to begin is by installing, and updating, an internet security suite. Never provide a credit card number to a website that doesn’t offer a multi-tiered security system intended to protect the transaction. Finally, take the time to read the posted internet security warning before you enter any personal, sensitive information, including your credit card number, social security number or phone number.
3. Social Networking Scams
Here’s an all-too common scenario told my many social networking addicts. While quickly scanning his Facebook page during lunch hour, the unsuspecting user clicks on a flashy, seemingly legitimate social link. That person’s work or personal computer is now infected with Malware, which beyond being irritating can be tricky to eradicate. Social media users are becoming more aware of the threat, but not quickly enough to keep up with the attackers. Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind the next time you’re using Twitter or Facebook:
- Steer clear of any posts or Tweets from friends and family members that seem out-of-the-ordinary or suspicious.
- Never install a Facebook application that doesn’t feature the word “Facebook” in the address.
- Stay away from links that feature the descriptive phrase “Check this out”, or “Nude Celebrity Pictures.”
2. Smartphone Attacks
When it comes to protecting your smartphone from cyber-attacks, it’s best to consider the device a miniature, portable computer. Just like your trusty laptop or PC, smartphones are susceptible to malicious hackers, Trojans, malware and worms. A 2011 study found that incidents of mobile malware rose over 155 percent from 2010, but users can protect themselves with a little education, and common sense.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Basically, never fall for the apps that promise “free wallpaper”, “free ringtones” or especially “free protection from malware.”
- Never download a free app from an unknown source, especially if it was offered from a legitimate source for a small fee.
- Do your homework and research the app online before downloading. If the user reviews are questionable, or you cannot find any information about the app, steer clear.
1. Human Error
It’s a scary notion, but simple human error is by far the most overwhelming internet security threat. Common sense sometimes takes the back seat to curiosity or bad judgment, which could potentially cost the consumer thousands, or at the very least infect the device with a nasty virus or spyware. Be proactive, and follow a few simple rules to protect yourself while online:
- Install a spam filter on your email account, and use it. Once your spam folder starts filling up, take a quick look at the emails, and delete any that seem suspicious immediately.
- Invest in a quality internet security suite, but don’t assume that an elevated price tag will offer you more protection. Read the reviews and download the most effective security your budget can afford.
- Update your internet security suite regularly. Many consumers neglect to update, or renew, their antivirus in a timely fashion, which is a potentially disastrous mistake.
- Never download anything from your email before performing a virus scan.
- Avoid sharing files from dubious sites. As a matter of fact, avoid filing sharing all together whenever possible.
Once again, it cannot be stressed enough that the most effective way to protect yourself from the omnipresent threat of cyber-attacks is to keep your antivirus or internet security suite updated, and running smoothly. The few minutes every few weeks required to update your security software will make a huge difference, and potentially save you from the tragedy of identity theft, malware and malicious hackers.
Author Bio – Justin Weathers is a world traveling IT consultant. He can be found working in Australia, but expects to return stateside within the year. He has been working in the industry since he was 17 years old. Trend micro helps you to protect from all known cyber threats than any other security software.
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