This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and Norton #BoldlyGo sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.
Just because you aren’t downloading .exe files (like the ones your university roommate would forward you on an almost weekly basis!) doesn’t mean you aren’t compromising your computer in equally dangerous ways.
76% of web sites have some sort of vulnerability, including so-called reputable sites. That doesn’t mean all of these sites have been hacked, but it does mean that there is a known security hole because of outdated patches or poorly written code that could potentially leave you open to attack.
Did you know…?
In 2014, more than 6,500 new vulnerabilities were discovered, more than 317 million new pieces of malware were created, and 46 new mobile malware families were discovered. That’s a lot of bits and bytes to keep up with, so it’s no wonder that the cyber attack business is booming.
Gone are the days when Star Trek-clad geeks hacked into networks for notoriety. Today, cybercrime is big business with hackers operating as global organized crime syndicates. Chances are, before you even realize your personal information has been compromised; it’s already been sold and resold around the world.
>>>> Cyber attacks cost Canadians $3 billion dollars annually.
>>>> There are more than 1 million malicious mobile apps in existence.
>>>> Crypto-ransom attacks have increased 4,000 per cent.
Like all savvy businesspeople, cyber attackers know how to turn a profit: volume. Take stolen credit card information as an example. Hackers can get anywhere from $0.50 to $20 per card. Not enough to keep them in cyber attacker bling until you multiply it by the thousands of users they target for their information.
“That will never happen to me,” you say. Are you willing to bet your data on that?
I recently spoke with Greg Weeks, Manager of Consumer Solutions at Norton by Symantec, and he shared with me the most common myths about anti-virus software:
“I’m safe because I’m just a little guy. Cyber criminals aren’t interested in me.”
WRONG! You are exactly who they are interested in. Remember that part about volume? Hackers need to turn a profit and to do that at pennies per stolen credit card, they need to steal lots and lots and lots of credit cards.
Unfortunately, it’s not just credit card information they are after. Always the creative entrepreneurs, hackers are using ransomware to lock you out of your computer or individual files until you pay them money to get access.
“I’m not a PC user. Macs aren’t vulnerable to viruses like PCs are.”
WRONG! It’s absolutely true that back in the good old days when cyber threats were virus-based, Macs weren’t vulnerable the way PCs were. But that’s not the case anymore because hackers aren’t trying to load viruses on your device.
Today, hackers are trying to gather personal information to sell and that can happen with any device that connects to the Internet, including your smartphone, tablet and even your Internet-enabled watch.
“I’ll be safe if I only surf reputable web sites and don’t download anything.”
WRONG! There is no guarantee that any of the web sites you visit are safe because 3 out of 4 of them have some sort of vulnerability, including reputable ones! Our profit-driven cyber criminals know they can get access to more information by targeting major sites.
Take a look at the major retailers and big name companies who have suffered serious data breaches. The only way to protect yourself is to protect the devices you use to access these sites.
“Anti-virus software installed on my computer is enough to keep me safe.”
WRONG! Clearing your hard drive of pesky computer viruses is the least of your worries. In fact, using anti-virus software alone may give you a false sense of security because your computer is only one of the devices targeted by hackers.
Today, you need to worry about any device capable of connecting to the Internet. Remember, cybercriminals are trying to gather enough information to sell your identity and they are willing to do that piece by piece over time.
“I know when a hacker is trying to trick me into giving my information.”
WRONG! Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, targeting you with all sorts of shiny and compelling reasons for you to click and enter your information. Even if you aren’t fooled by those scams, hackers are waiting to spoof legitimate WiFi networks in order to get your data.
It’s also to important to understand that unlike the old days when viruses would clog up your system, making your computer painfully slow, the modern hack is designed to be silent. An estimated 1.9 million bots are sitting on our computers, quietly gathering information or waiting to be activated.
So…how can you keep your information safe? Two words: FULL PROTECTION.
You need a full security solution like Norton Security that not only checks for vulnerabilities multiple times a day, but can detect and stop any hacker shenanigans (that’s a technical term, obviously) before they gain access to your information on whatever device you are using to connect to the Internet, including your smartphones and tablets.
Why do you want to bother doing this? Because Greg says that my idea of getting rid of all computing devices and wearing a tinfoil hat is silly (okay, maybe he didn’t say that exactly, but he did tell me that it wouldn’t be necessary if I protected my devices).
Thanks, Greg. I’d miss Facebook too much to do that anyway.
Phishing attacks, spyware, adware, botnets, worms, Trojan Horses…. your personal information is under attack every day.
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