Ads that disguise malware, sneaky web trackers, old-school viruses, phishing emails and docs, fake links – it’s wild out there on the world wide web, and things are only getting Moore lawless; and yes, pun intended. How confident are you in your company’s cybersecurity strategy? What about your personal online presence? Are you merely keeping a half-step ahead of cybercriminals or do you have something in place that is future-proof?
What is ‘future-proof” cybersecurity?
Future-proof cybersecurity – in simple terms – is thinking one step ahead. What are hackers or other cybercriminals ramping up for? It’s a proactive rather than defensive strategy. One can react to threats or you can defend against them; but as the cliché – but true – adage goes: “A good offense is often the best defense.” Future-proofing breaks down into roughly three major core components. The first is being aware of your situation. Too many companies and individuals naively believe they are not a target. After all, you may not work for some institution that handles money, such as a bank, and you may not be in possession of significant or secretive data that someone might want. But cybercriminals are like any other predator – they look for a weakness and then find a way to exploit it. It really doesn’t matter what you do or who you are, if they can find an opening in your defenses, they are going to attack.
Installing a Browser Safety Site Checker is a Basic First Move
Did you know that over 90% of cyberattacks start with some sort of fake phishing email? Every day, malicious attachments masked as a Microsoft document or a PDF or some other kind of file are sent out, and all too often, somebody innocently clicks on it. By the end of this year, the cost of global online crime is estimated to reach as much as six trillion dollars. A good place to start protecting yourself is with a safe site checker. After it’s installed on your browser, a safety checker catches malware and runs each URL or IP you visit through a site safety check to make sure its reputation holds up and that the site is safe. The same type of add-on can block ads and trackers, and do it in real-time. Too many people forget that ads are a great source of malware. What looks like an ad for sneakers could actually be a rabbit hole into malware. By blocking the ad in the first place, you remove the possibility of becoming infected and you don’t have to rely on your own or your employees’ judgment. Security reports are also offered by many safety check websites that run as browser extensions. The add-on checks sites against community-based ratings, reviews, and other metrics. If a website is secure enough for you to safely browse, it’s flagged “green,” if not you will be immediately warned and guided away.
Simple as a Traffic Light – Red: Bad! Yellow: Caution! Green: Safe!
After becoming more aware of your own weaknesses, it’s time for the second stage: comprehending the threats and understanding your foes. You have to be able to think like a potential attacker. This isn’t easy for most of us law-abiding citizens. Is it possible your credit card info could be snagged, or are you vulnerable to a ransomware attack? The final element in a future-proof web safety strategy is remembering human error. Almost every major catastrophe in human history has had an element of human error… with a huge percentage being completely attributable to human error. Everything from the space shuttle Challenger disaster to 911 involved human failings or somebody missing something. Statistics show that 95% of security breaches are in fact due to human error and it can take six months or more before a data breach caused by a completely innocent mistake is caught. Everyone assumes they’re after the big boys but actually, roughly 43% of cyber-attacks are on smaller businesses, which makes sense when you think about it because smaller outfits are probably easier to infiltrate.
“But I’m ‘Normal’! Cybercriminals Aren’t After Me!” – Yes, They Are!
Convincing people of the threats online is harder than you might think. We use the web every day, and use it for work and play. Users have grown accustomed to trusting their machines. Auto-password fill-ins, “keep me logged on,” one-click purchases – it seems to work just fine. Why all the hyperbolic ranting about web safety? Well, just ask one of the 791,790 victims featured in the recently released FBI 2020 Internet Crime Report. The FBI says 2020 was the worst year for cybercrime on record, and of course, you don’t need to be a genius to predict that 2021 will be an even “better” year for web crime. Threats are growing exponentially; literally. With the rise of AI, cybercriminals don’t even have to do much of the heavy lifting anymore. They simply run programs that find weaknesses and automatically get to work. Having real-time scanning defenses on your browser is a great “moat” that provides a huge boost to defenses. Simple to use, generally free to install, a safety-check extension is a common-sense move you need to make today.