This digital era we are in today, created a more global technology network for communication. Once you are connected to the internet, you will be virtually taken to what we call, the cyberspace. Here, any information, whether for public knowledge or confidential to certain people, can be exchanged rather faster than any other traditional means known to man.
Businesses too, recognize the digital power in cyberspace where dealings can be sealed, financial transactions can be completed and communication lines with stakeholders can be established, at a faster pace than before when everything has to be done physically and manually.
Information is the target
It has been said that today, the most valuable thing that most people are after, especially for business owners like you, is not anymore something that’s tangible. It’s information. What were once treated as ordinary, common personal details are now being considered as very vital and should not be shared with just anyone else.
Personal details such as birthdates, birthplace, address, phone numbers, email address and other simple contact information, can open a window for fraudsters to manipulate your data, making you their vulnerable target.
Easy Access To Information
What this technology brought to the world is one that can be very valuable if used responsibly, or can run the risk of abuse, if placed into the wrong hands – ACCESS. Yes, easy access to information, to be more specific.
Gaining access to valuable information proved to be very beneficial especially to business owners in making their business decisions. Ironically though, it also gave people with fraudulent intentions, the opportunity to get hold of secured information that they can exploit to further their evil cause, almost always, for a hefty price. Hence, the birth of cybercrimes.
TYPES OF CYBERCRIMES
The constant upgrades introduced to systems, network connections, both hardware and software applications also triggered the upgrade of cybercrimes to really break the walls and get that prized information that can be used to commit unlawful acts from the simplest fraud to a more deliberate, large – scale, syndicated crime.
While there may be thousands out there, here are the common cybercrimes that many people fall victim to:
We often hear news about security breaches in websites, personal or business, some government and financial systems. These breaches are described by having your data compromised or having your whole network intruded by outsiders that shouldn’t have access to your data, much less, to the system or network that holds your data.
When you see that you lost management or control of your data to an entity that does not have any authority to even just see them, that’s when you can conclude that your system was hacked.
This is how most other cybercrimes begin. You can say then that hacking is the mother that gave birth to other more high-profile cybercrimes out there. The process of hacking usually involves finding the weaknesses in your system and hits you there. Some techniques include
- Malwares or viruses to corrupt your system
- Ransomware that will hold your data or access to important data “hostage”, with a ransom to be paid for its freedom;
- Malvertising, a shortened combination of malicious advertising, where malware is used in legitimate online ads that even with less or no action from users, like merely browsing the web, you will be led to compromised servers used for unlawful activities that send a malware that can corrupt your system.
- Denial of Service is a type of hacking technique where a simulated flooding of requests or traffic to your site or system is being sent with the intent to overwhelm its limited capacity until it cannot process the requests any longer, then crash.
This is usually the technique being done by those that seek financial gain from unlawful activities or sources. Much like the concept of hacking, but in this scene, you are being led to freely give out your personal information which they then, will use to defraud you.
You may have received once, an email that is quite suspicious. It could be an email from someone you don’t know, stating that you have won a prize, a gadget maybe. And that they need your contact details and your bank details to complete the transaction so they can send you that most-coveted gadget. Then you begin to doubt because you can’t remember having joined any event or contest. That is clearly phishing and you are being made into a vulnerable target.
Others would pose as a legitimate site or company that you actually have dealings with and they lead you to a site that is exactly like the company’s official website. You will be asked to fill out a form as a survey or something. Just be on the look-out especially if you’re being asked to give out your password or the PIN to your bank account. No legit company would do that.
3. Identity Theft
As personal details can be accessed over the internet, there is that danger of having your identity stolen from you. They can get your details through hacking your social media accounts or your computer network, or through phishing where you can freely give out these information, if you fall for it.
With all your information in the hands of the perpetrators, it’s easier then to pose as you. All your personal and business affairs, especially those that you do online, can be done by them while posing as you. This can cause a great loss on your part especially if the intent is to defraud, as is the usual case. Your life savings can vanish in an instant. And, the probability to recover is almost remote since all the required data, that are supposedly private to only you, necessary to complete your transactions, were provided. It will be more difficult to dispute that.
Before, this is often heard of celebrities being followed by their obsessed fans, knowing their every move. Come the digital age, stalking has been experienced even by the common people.
While this has been done offline, it is fairly easier to do online especially if your social media accounts are public. And, if the offenders are skilled hackers, they can get into your private messages to take note of your activities, who you’re talking to or dealing with and your schedule for the coming days. With the information they have, they then can use this to harass or blackmail you. In some cases, this has led to more physical violations such as kidnapping, rape, or murder, even.
5. Dissemination of Fake News
Fake news is not entirely new. It could have well been in circulation when publishing first came into existence. This was a tactic often used by journalists or reporters to cause a sensation and draw the interest of the readers to the news report or the publication, in total. A lot of people would want to get hold of that paper to read for themselves and know more. Most often, there is a reckless disregard to find out if it’s true or not.
The internet made creation and dissemination of fake news very easy. The objective of offenders usually is to lead more traffic to their website and generate online advertising revenues. Sometimes, they are paid a large sum just to create a content that can discredit a person of influence, conglomerate businesses, or even a country’s government.
The fake news is often accompanied by a clickbait of a headline to entice the prying eyes and minds of readers. The more clicks, the more subscribers, the higher the search ratings, the higher chances of generating income.
The proliferation of fake news has created a backlash, sometimes to the extent of compromising national security and safety. Also, legitimate news stories have often been overshadowed by these more sensational and more interesting news. Well, as they say, sensationalism sells.
Cybersecurity Measures to Counter Cybercrime
You may think that cyberattackers would likely target only the more established companies or entities like business empires, banks, financial institutions, government bureaus and agencies. But those maybe of interest to the highly-skilled and more ambitious attackers.
Most vulnerable to the more common cybercriminals would be those whose cybersecurity measures are very weak and information are least-protected. These are often small businesses or individuals who are complacent that they can never be targeted.
TYPES OF CYBERSECURITY MEASURES
To protect you from becoming a victim of cybercrime, a reliable and strong cybersecurity measure must be in place. Below are some that you can do to reduce, if not totally eliminate the risk of cyberattacks:
1. Acquire a cybersecurity solution package
The rise of cybercrime or cyberattacks prompted IT companies to develop cybersecurity tools, applications and software. They also offer IT management solutions or services that cover many aspects of your IT system – hardware and software. You can check some of the tools from the list below which you believe your business needs to protect the information that you possess:
- Endpoint security
- Firewall protection
- Remote Monitoring and Management
- Mobile security
- File, Email and Internet security
- Password management system
- Multiple-factor authentication
- Data encryption
- Fraud Alert and Detection
- Service Desk
- Customized Cybersecurity Management Plan
- Cybersecurity Training Course
2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
You may have heard of companies using VPNs to protect their sensitive and valuable information. Don’t think it’s necessary for small businesses or individuals? Well, think again. For certain, most people are never not hooked to the internet. This holds especially true for e-commerce business owners whose lifeblood is the internet to do their business transactions.
If you are one who is always on the lookout for Wifi Hotspots or is never disconnected from your mobile data and keeps your location services on, then a VPN will be very helpful in securing your information. That’s the reason too, why its use is growing in popularity with individuals for home or for travel.
What is a VPN?
It is a network that will link your computer to another server and allow you to use the internet with that server’s internet connection. It would seem then that you’re surfing the internet from a different IP address. More likely so that even if you are somewhere in Asia, you could appear as if your current location is in Europe or in the US.
As the name states, privacy is what you can ultimately gain through these various things that a VPN provides:
- Anonymity. You can mask your location and hide your true IP address. Your web searches then cannot be traced back to your computer.
- Data Security. Data transfers are encrypted even before your internet service or wifi providers can see them. Your browsing activities are concealed from interested hackers or cybercriminals.
- Access to blocked websites. As you will appear to have been browsing the internet from another location, you can gain access to websites that are blocked or censored in the current location or country that you are in.
VPNs in China
Taking off from there, you would then understand why there is a huge demand for VPNs in China. The Chinese government imposed a rather strict and strong internet censorship, controlling almost fully the content that will be made available to the people in China.
Its government does not only block access to certain websites but may also conduct surveillance over an individual’s internet browsing activities. With a VPN, you can bypass that Great Firewall of China that they say since you wouldn’t appear to be browsing the internet from China.
There may be hundreds of VPNs there, but there are five that we can consider the best VPN for China.
3. Establish an Information Security Policy and Management Plan
Businesses and other entities must clearly define their Information Security Policy and Management Plans and impose on all their employees, strict compliance.
The scope of the policy and plan must include hardware, software, systems and programs, authorized users, access control, data confidentiality, back-up and data recovery, sanctions and penalties for breach, among many others that make up your business’ whole technology infrastructure.
Companies or entities that hold custody of very sensitive information, employ or outsource a reliable Information Technology Security team or provider with an exclusive function of ensuring data security, develop defenses to counter threats of breach or security violations.
The more defined the policies and plans are, the easier it is to monitor compliance and adherence by your personnel or employees.
Some providers offer a customized Information Security Plan based on the type of data or information you hold and the level of security that you need. Often, this service is bundled in a cybersecurity solution package.
4. Raise Information Security Awareness
This should be the first step and should be a continuing process not only for business owners or workers but for everyone that is using the internet.
Awareness of the different types of cybercrime and its gravity can build considerable vigilance in people making them cautious of the information that they are willing to share. Topics that you can discuss can range from the very trivial such as passwords or data collection to the more advanced topics like security programming or legal regulations.
The aim here is to keep you updated on what’s new and the latest on information security, the attendant risks or threats and the measures to counter them. You have to inculcate in your mind and in the minds of your employees that it is after all everyone’s responsibility, not just your IT managers’.
Responsibility and Accountability over the Information
The key elements to successfully counter or prevent the threats to data breach are still with the users. If you have that great sense of responsibility and accountability over the information or data that you manage, the risk of compromising these sensitive data can be diminished.
Even if you have the best and the latest cybersecurity solutions or a detailed and strong Information Security Policy and Management Plan, but are still reckless and undiscerning in disseminating valuable and sensitive data or information, you will remain a vulnerable target.
On the other hand, if you are primarily responsible and accountable, you will always think of ways to protect that which you manage and ensure that cybersecurity measures are in place.