Ready to guard your data? Read on – a lot of cyber preparedness is about prevention. The first step to protecting yourself is being able to recognize potential threats and minimize personal risk, so you don’t get hacked or fall victim to a cyber scam.
You also need to prepare for a larger scale attack that could disrupt utilities or the power grid and keep you from accessing essentials like your savings account or basic material goods. In this article we’ll look at different types of cyberattacks and what steps you can take to protect yourself from this escalating modern threat.
The Rise of Cybercrime
As our daily lives become increasingly dependent on digital technology and the internet, cybercrime is on the rise and cyberattacks are an ever-present threat.
Cybersecurity statistics are enough to make you lose sleep. As Covid-19 pushed schools to e-learning and businesses to work-from-home models, it sparked a “scam-demic” – an epidemic of hackers eager to exploit the rapid digital shift.
Key cybersecurity statistics from 2022 show:
- A 38% increase in global attacks compared to 2021 (Check Point Research)
- A 57% spike in cyberattacks in the U.S. (Check Point Research)
- 1,802 reported data breaches that compromised 422.1 million people (Identity Theft Resource Center)
If you think cyberattacks are only a threat to big business and the government, think again. The reality is that anyone with a computer, smartphone, or other smart device is at risk of becoming a victim. Perhaps even scarier is that security experts warn of larger-scale attacks that could disrupt the power grid or shut down utilities. An attack of this magnitude could have devastating consequences and deny people access to critical resources like electricity and communication networks.
The good news is there are actions you can take to safeguard yourself against cyber threats. Being aware of the growing danger posed by cyberattacks is the first step towards preparing yourself for any potential attacks. Below we’ll take a look at some specific types of cyberattacks and how to protect yourself from them.
Common Cyber Attack Scenarios
From small-time scams to full-blown data breaches, cyberattacks come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s a quick look at three of the most common cyberattack scenarios that affect individuals.
- Phishing scams are when attackers send emails or text messages that falsely appear to be from a trusted source like your bank or boss. They try to trick you into clicking virus-laden links, downloading dangerous attachments filled with malware, or revealing sensitive information like login credentials or credit card numbers. Occasionally, they will use this tactic via a call and pretend to be from a credit card company or Amazon member services.
- Malware is malicious software like viruses or ransomware that can damage your system, steal your data, lock you out of your devices, or even take over your network.
- Data breaches occur when hackers gain unauthorized access to databases full of personal information stored on servers belonging to businesses, healthcare systems, financial institutions, retailers, government agencies, educational institutions, and other organizations.
Understanding what different types of cyberattacks could affect you makes it easier for you to protect yourself from potential threats. When it comes to phishing attempts, there are some telltale signs to look out for. Any request for personal or confidential information should be considered a red flag. Typos and misspellings are another.
Another rule of thumb is to always double check the sender’s address. Often, phishing email addresses will mimic a legitimate sender. For instance, if you have car insurance through State Farm and receive an email from ‘StateFarm278@yahoo.com, it’s likely not the real deal. If something seems off or suspicious, adopt a strict policy of ‘when in doubt, don’t click.’
Data breaches are unfortunately outside of your control. While you can’t help it if your bank gets hacked, you can monitor your account activity. Below we’ll look at more specific steps to take to keep your data safe and protect against cyberattacks.
Simple Steps to Take to Keep Your Data, Identity, and Personal Info Safe
First and foremost, use strong, unique passwords that are a mixture of numbers, capital letters, lowercase letters, and special characters. Enable two-factor or multi-step verification to access your critical accounts. Practice good cyber hygiene – keep your software up to date, perform virus scans regularly, use a firewall, and remember to log out of accounts before closing the window.
Check privacy settings on email, messaging apps, web browsers, and smart devices. Tighten security settings on social media accounts and limit what you share. Make sure any apps you choose to download are reputable and reviewed. Only shop on secure websites. Monitor your network activity and check your credit reports and financial accounts regularly. Assume any free Wi-Fi is unsecured and be wary of public Wi-Fi at places like hotels and airports.
Finally, prepare for a cyberattack by backing up important files. That way, in the event you do suffer a cyberattack, you won’t lose valuable information or personal keepsakes like photos of your family. You could also keep hard copies of personal documents but be sure to shred them when they’re no longer needed.
By taking these simple steps, you can protect yourself from the threat of a cyberattack in our tech-heavy world.
How to Prepare for a Major Attack that Disrupts Utilities or the Power Grid
As critical infrastructure like the power grid and utilities become increasingly reliant on digital technology, they become ever more vulnerable targets to cyberattacks. It’s essential to be prepared for this very real threat and have a plan in place – the same way you’d prepare for a severe weather emergency or SHTF situation.
A cyberattack of this magnitude could hamper your ability to access basic resources. Be sure to always have an emergency preparedness stash of water and food, including non-perishable items. It’s also smart to have a backup mode of communication, like a Ham radio, in case traditional comms go down. Keep gas in your tank and cash on hand in case credit cards, ATMs, or gas pumps stop working.
Consider investing in a generator if you want to keep the lights on and the fridge running in the event of a grid attack. At the very least, have backup lighting sources, a backup power bank, and consider purchasing a space heater, portable AC, or other devices to help regulate your home’s (and body’s) temperature without electricity.
A Final Word on Cyber Warfare
In today’s digitally connected world where tech seems embedded in every aspect of life, cyberattacks present a clear and present danger to society.
By following these steps and staying vigilant, you can help to protect yourself, your family, and your data from a devastating cyberattack, whether it’s targeted and personal or brings the grid to its knees. Prepare for these attacks now.
The more steps you take to guard yourself and prepare, the more protected you will be from cyber risks large and small.