I'm sure by now you've heard of the global cyberattack that took place over the weekend. WannaCry ransomware infected hundreds of thousands of computers in over 150 countries. Yikes!
But if you think that was scary, you should hang on to your hat, things are about to get worse.
Spy chief warns 'serious digital sabotage' imminent
What we're talking about is a warning given this week by Dutch spy chief Rob Bertholee. Speaking at a cyber security conference in the Netherlands, Bertholee said the world may be close to a "serious act of digital sabotage," which could trigger "unrest, chaos and disorder." The message of doom came on the heels of the massive WannaCry ransomware attack.
Bertholee pointed out that the world's infrastructure is heavily interconnected, which brings many benefits but also vulnerabilities. He gave recent examples of computers at Saudi Arabia's largest oil company coming under attack as well as Ukrainian electric companies, causing a major blackout that lasted several hours.
Bertholee said, "Imagine what would happen if the entire banking system were sabotaged for a day, two days, for a week. Or if there was a breakdown in our transportation network. Or if air traffic controllers faced cyberattacks while directing flights. The consequences could be catastrophic."
It doesn't help that government hacking tools are being leaked to the public. In April, a group known as Shadow Brokers leaked NSA tools that were used to attack and break into Windows computers.
Most of the leaked exploits are said to use zero-day vulnerabilities, previously unknown software exploits used by hackers before the software makers are aware of them. Criminals used the NSA's leaked EternalBlue vulnerability to attack Windows machines with WannaCry ransomware.
How to defend against cybercriminals
With all of the digital threats in the world, it's critical that you take measures to stay protected. Here are some suggestions to defending against cybercriminals:
- Have strong security software - Having strong protection on your family's gadgets is very important. The best defense against digital threats is strong security software.
- Use unique passwords - Many people use the same password for multiple websites. This is a terrible mistake. If your credentials are stolen on one site and you use the same username and/or password on others, it's simple for the cybercriminal to get into each account. Click here to find out how to create hack-proof passwords.
- Backup your critical data - Backing up your information is essential in the fight against ransomware. Click here to learn about the best option for backing up data.
- Be cautious with links - If you get an email or text that you find suspicious, don't click on its links. It could be a phishing attack. It's always better to type a website's address directly into a browser than clicking on a link. Before you ever click on a link, hover over it with your mouse to see where it is going to take you. If the destination isn't what the link claims, do not click on it.
- Set up two-factor authentication - Two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, means that to log in to your account, you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. It's like the DMV or bank asking for two forms of ID. Click here to learn how to set up two-factor authentication.
- Watch for typos - Phishing scams are infamous for having typos. If you receive an email or notification from a reputable company, it should not contain typos. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
- Investigate your email address - Have I Been Pwned is an easy-to-use site with a database of information that hackers and malicious programs have released publicly. It monitors hacker sites and collects new data every five to 10 minutes about the latest hacks and exposures.
- Close unused accounts - Here's an easy way to manage all of your online accounts at once.
- Keep an eye on your bank accounts - You should be frequently checking your bank statements, looking for suspicious activity. If you see anything that seems strange, report it immediately.
Obviously, we can't control everything going on in the world. But, if you follow the previous safety precautions, your personal devices will be secure.