Warning! Your Family can be Hacked!

Families aren’t immune to cyberattacks but these tried and proven tips can help you protect yourself so your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.  

Businesses, educational institutions, and municipalities aren’t the only attractive targets for cybercriminals. Your personal computer or even your child’s computer can be targeted by a phishing attack, malware attack, ransomware or some other form of cybercrime.

There are a number of reasons why cybercriminals target individuals rather than businesses. These include:

  • A growing number of people work remotely rather than at the company office. However, recent statistics show that only about 18% of remote workers are concerned about the security problems that could arise from working at a public library or cafe. Cybercriminals who target these workers can not only gain access to an individual’s private information but also an entire company’s invaluable business information.
  • Cybercriminals know that parents are attached to family photos and videos and would be willing to pay a ransom to get these back. It’s not unheard of for couples to shell out hundreds of dollars to regain access to photos of their wedding, honeymoon, and/or children. As Scott Gallupe from 403Tech Inc. accurately notes, cybercriminals have made a successful business model out of holding personal information ransom and demanding money from those who want it back.
  • Children who use computers at home often aren’t aware of the importance of keeping computers safe from hackers. The Center for Cyber Safety and Education’s Children’s Internet Usage Study recently found that nearly 30% of children use the internet in a way their parents would not approve of; furthermore, up to 40% of children admit to connecting with people they don’t know online.
  • An average individual has a lot of personal information that can be exploited on the dark web. Your bank account information, social security number, passport number and other bits of personal information are valuable to cybercriminals.

How to Protect Your Family

Experts offer various tried and proven ways to protect your family from cyberattacks. These include:

  • Choosing a strong password. Ian Brady from Steadfast Solutions reports that cybercriminals can tell what a person’s password will be by simply looking at the stage of life that person is currently in. Couples tend to use the name of the significant other together with a number while parents use a child’s name with a number. Pet owners typically use a pet’s name with a number. At the same time, as Jorge Rojas from Tektonic Inc. points out, many people put up a lot of very personal information on Facebook, giving criminals all the information needed to guess one’s passwords. Thankfully, you can protect yourself by choosing passwords that include random letters (both upper and lower case), symbols and numbers. If you have a hard time remembering a slew of strong passwords, a password manager may be of help. Jorge Rojas recommends using Lastpass, Keepass or Password Safe while Scott Gallupe recommends the website www.pwsafe.org.
  • Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication boosts your security tremendously because you have to not only put in a password but also use a code sent to your mobile phone in order to get into your account. It may take a few extra seconds to log into your websites this way but it boosts your cybersecurity tremendously.
  • Nick Allo from SemTech IT Solutions recommends creating separate Windows accounts for yourself and your kids, and then purchasing Sophos Home Premium in order to set up web filtering for kids via their portal. These are wise suggestions that every parent should seriously consider. Limiting your child’s access to certain portions of the web isn’t a substitute for teaching a child about the importance of cybersecurity but it does help children abide by your family’s rules.
  • Your anti-virus program needs to be updated regularly to provide proper protection to your computer. However, it’s not the only software program that needs your attention. Developers regularly put out updates and patches for programs to eliminate vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. Updating your software programs regularly is an effective way to make it difficult for hackers to gain access to your computer.
  • Back up your family’s data on a regular basis. As Laith Pahlawan at Orange Crew points out, you may not be able to keep dozens of photos of your family at the exact same tourist site or restaurant, but trimming down your collection is a small price to pay for being able to keep all your photos in the long run. Ransomware is the fastest-growing type of cybercrime. Every fourteen seconds, a business is successfully attacked by this type of malware and experts believe that ransomware will become even more prevalent in the coming years. Backing up your files enables you to ignore ransomware demands without losing precious photos, videos, and other files.

The threat to your family’s computers is real. Thankfully, it is possible to prevent hacks, breaches and ransomware attacks by taking precautions such as using strong passwords and two-factor authentication, teaching your children to be mindful of what they do online, and backing up your data regularly. While it may take some time and work to secure your devices, the result will be more than worth the effort.

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