Security in the New Era – Why Individuals Should Be Aware of Targeted Cyber-Attacks

As of July 2013, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee estimated the cost of cyber-crime to be $24-120 billion in the U.S. and $300 billion-$1 trillion globally. Although organizations, especially large financial institutions and businesses, have been among the most targeted victims of cyber-attacks, the new technology era has started to see a rapid growth in cyber-attacks targeting high-profile, influential individuals. In a recent security update by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), cyber criminals are increasingly deploying spear phishing against professionals who have involvement in the targeted organizations or industries, causing major organizational and personal losses.

Think about how your confidential information might be compromised even when online access is protected within the comfort of your private home network and firewalls; then imagine the cyber vulnerabilities you could be exposed to while being connected to unfamiliar networks – whether it’s a coffee shop in your neighborhood or your client’s office abroad. Amidst myriads of simple and sophisticated security threats targeting professionals, what measures should be considered to minimize your chance of being a cyber-attack victim?

    • Password – the most common, and probably easiest, channel for cyber criminals. A two-factor authentication (a regular character password plus an image you’ve selected when setting up your login) can better protect your account than a traditional number-and-letter password. Also, try not to use one authentication for all accounts and make a habit of changing them regularly.
    • Software applications – applications that receive less security attention are more likely to be exploited and compromised. Protect all your business applications with the same security measures.
    • Malicious email/website information requests that appear to be from a trusted or known source – double check before you provide any information, especially, keep in mind that banks and other financial institutions will not ask for your confidential information via email.
    • Be aware of attachments and URLs that come with emails – always use anti-virus programs to scan any URLs or attachments to make sure they are safe to open.

Taking serious security measures to protect your organization and yourself against cyber threats can be overwhelming. But with appropriate procedures and systems in place, the results will be worthwhile.

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