Top cyber threats facing consumers: Personal cybersecurity tips

In July 2020, insurance company HSB released findings from a survey about consumer cyber threats. According to the results, 34% of respondents said they had experienced a cyber attack, with the most common incident cited being a malware or virus infection. While the threat landscape is broad, encouraging results from the survey indicated that consumers are taking these challenges seriously. In fact, 77% of the respondents said that they were concerned about online identity theft, and a similar number expressed worry about eavesdropping on public Wi-Fi networks.

Top cyber threats facing consumers: Personal cybersecurity tips

We’ll explore these topics in detail and share some personal cybersecurity tips to help consumers stay safe.

Cyber threat No.1: Malware and viruses

Malware is nothing new. Some varieties may be used for spying and espionage, including keyloggers. Others serve up intrusive ads or act as ransomware while some were even created as pranks. Whatever their purpose, at a minimum, they’re a nuisance. Encountering malicious software should also serve as a warning sign indicating that a device or network has vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

Personal cybersecurity tips for handling malware and viruses

You should make sure to update your operating system and patch other software regularly. An up-to-date, high-quality antivirus suite should also be installed to protect your devices. In addition, be careful to avoid suspicious email attachments and links. A Verizon study from 2019 found that 94% of malware detected by companies originated in email. If you’re not able to remove malware, a factory reset may be your best option. This is one of the main reasons that personal cybersecurity also involves robust data backup planning.

Cyber threat No.2: Online identity theft

By impersonating unwitting victims online, identity thieves are able to make purchases, infiltrate secure systems and commit a variety of financial crimes. This situation has also led to the development of a secondary market for personal information that can be used to facilitate fraud. In other words, not only do cybercriminals engage in identity theft, but they also sell personal information to others who want to engage in fraudulent activity.

Personal cybersecurity tips for handling online identity theft

Again, one of the best personal cybersecurity precautions you can take to avoid this issue is to be on the lookout for phishing attempts. However, your information can also be exposed in larger data breaches. Because of this, savvy users also practice good password hygiene by using only strong, secure passwords and never recycling them. Password generators and managers can help with this. Lastly, you may want to subscribe to an identity monitoring service, or at least regularly review your financial statements and credit reports for any signs of fraudulent activity.

Cyber threat No.3: Data stolen over public wireless networks

By executing man-in-the-middle attacks over unsecured public wireless networks or setting up “evil twins” that pose as legitimate networks, criminals can intercept your personal information.

Personal cybersecurity tips for handling possible data theft

First of all, it should go without saying that users should avoid public wireless networks when possible. Tethering or otherwise using mobile data is preferable. If you have to log on to an unsecured network, a virtual private network (VPN) can provide enhanced security.

Learn more about the latest antivirus software and other protections from Total Defense.