Why Is Cyber Security So Important?
Now, more than ever, the world we’re living in and the lives we lead are reliant on technology. A decade ago, almost all of us did most of our shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. In 2019, online eCommerce will account for nearly 15% of retail sales and, in many countries, that number is far higher. Even when we buy offline, the way we’re doing it increasingly revolves around technology thanks to services like Apple Pay.
But retail is just one of the more visible ways that technology has come to occupy a central place in our day to day routines. From your cell-phone maps to the online banking service that your employer uses to deposit your salary, internet-enabled devices and services are everywhere.
And while technology has certainly made our lives more convenient, it’s also opened us up to huge risks from cyber attacks. In this article, you’ll find all the other reasons that good cyber security practices are important today.
Cybercrime Is Becoming More Common
Unsurprisingly, the key reason you need good cyber security is to stay protected from cybercrime. But what, exactly, is a cybercrime? Well, cybercrime is actually a pretty broad word that describes any sort of criminal activity that takes place on a computer or via an internet connection, such as theft or fraud.
Whenever you use the internet or other digital services on your phone or desktop computer, you’re vulnerable to all the following types of cybercrime attack:
- Malicious software (malware)
- Privacy violations (hackers stealing your data or activating your webcam)
- Theft (of intellectual property or financial information)
- Identity theft
- Ransomware (when a hacker encrypts your information until you pay them)
- Crypto-jacking (your processor gets hijacked to generate digital currency)
- Blackmail via social media
These are only a few of the things cybercriminals may do once they get access to your devices or online identity. Cybercrime is now a huge industry worth over $1.5 trillion per year. This motivates enterprising hackers to come up with new ways to use their skills to do bad things online.
And while cybercriminals diversify their techniques, there’s also a wealth of evidence pointing to the fact that the frequency of attacks is increasing too. The FBI now receives over 300,000 complaints of cybercrime per year, meaning more than 900 crimes occur each day, and that’s just counting those reported to a single agency.
It’s hard to estimate just how fast cybercrime is increasing because cybercriminals are reluctant to report their activities. However, the best estimates suggest that the number of cyberattacks is growing by roughly one-third year on year. Accenture Security calculated that there were 31% more cybercrimes committed in the UK in 2018 than in 2017, and 30% more in Japan.
Businesses Are Incredibly Vulnerable
If you run a corporation of any kind, then you need to be particularly diligent when it comes to cybercrime. At the beginning of 2019, almost one-quarter of all cyberattacks were targeted toward professional organizations.
The cost of business-focused cybercrimes to their victims is eye-watering. On average, analysts say that a single data-breach attack results in around $150 million in damages. Meanwhile, the price of a regular cyber crime comes to $3.9 million. Few companies are in a position to absorb these hefty penalties, leading to a large proportion of corporations who fall to a cyber attack to cease operations immediately.
Businesses are most often targeted by “phishing” attacks. In one of these, an employee will receive an email or social media message that appears to be from a trusted sender but actual links them to a piece of trojan software that will subtly embed itself on their system. According to some surveys, close to 100% of businesses have been attacked by such a scam.
And while there’s a perception that phishing hacks are easy to avoid by not opening suspicious emails, the truth is that modern phishing emails sent by a determined hacker are sophisticated and often fool even the most tech-savvy recipients. Because of this refinement, it’s no longer good enough to protect against phishers by raising awareness in your company: you need to invest in high-quality, multi-level cyber security.
Even Apples Get Viruses
Back in the early 2000s, Apple used to advertise its Os X machines as virus-immune, unlike their Windows counterparts. But the truth today is that using an Apple product is no sure-fire way to keep you safe from cybercrime.
While it remains the case that most malicious characters write their viruses for Windows-based devices, with the rise in popularity of iPhone and Os X products, hackers are increasingly turning their gaze toward the glowing Apple logo.
In 2012, more than 600,000 Mac computers were compromised by the “Flashback” virus, which stole their personal data and login information. Apple users were targeted again in early 2018 by the “OSX/MaMi” virus which infected thousands of machines in order to snoop on their online activity.
And, if that’s not enough to convince you to do more to be more conscious of cyber security when using your Apple device, remember that most modern cyber criminals don’t even need to get inside your local system. Frequently, attacks are focusing on online cloud storage, social media or financial accounts. The operating system you use to access these services makes little difference to how vulnerable you are.
Conclusion: Do I Need Cyber Security?
In a word, yes. Doing sensible things to keep yourself secure in this digital world is no longer optional. No matter what you're using the internet to do, cyber security is a must-have. Here are some of the key steps you can take when it comes to protecting your online accounts and local devices:
- Connect to public hotspots through an encrypted VPN
- Install a firewall
- Backup your data
- Keep your operating system up to date
- Install an advanced antivirus program
- Use a password manager so you can set alphanumeric credentials
- Regularly sweep your devices with the best cyber security software
- In a business environment, educate your employees about cybercrime and document your policies
By following these steps, and using our recommended cyber security programs and services, you'll be sure to safe online. Remember, good cyber security is achieved through a combination of sensible precautions and up to date software.