You never know when the next cyberattack is going to strike. That's why it's extremely important to stay vigilant these days. Phishing scams, ransomware attacks and data breaches are all things we need to be watching out for.
Do you remember the massive ransomware attack dubbed WannaCry that spread across the globe in May? That attack cost an estimated $8 billion globally. However, the next massive cyberattack could dwarf that number in economic costs.
Future cyberattacks could cost billions
A recent report released by Lloyd's of London titled, "Counting the cost: Cyber exposure decoded," claimed that a major global cyberattack could cost more than Superstorm Sandy. It is the second most expensive hurricane on record, with estimated damage costing between $50 billion and $70 billion.
The report focused on the economic impact of two potential cyberattacks. The first is an attack targeting cloud service providers. Estimated losses for this type of attack would average around $53 billion. Although it could end up costing up to $121 billion.
The other potential attacks target computer operating systems run by businesses across the globe. These estimated losses could reach nearly $30 billion.
A major problem pointed out by this report is a lack of insurance coverage by companies. Lloyd's Chief Executive Inga Beale told Reuters, "Because cyber is virtual, it is such a difficult task to understand how it will accumulate in a big event."
If a worst case scenario attack occurs that costs the estimated $121 billion, as much as $45 billion might not be covered by cyber insurance policies. According to the report, that's because most companies are under-insured. Yikes!
You don't want to be left unprotected like the companies in this scenario. There are security steps that we can all take to protect our gadgets and critical data. Keep reading to find out what you can do.
What you can do to stay protected
A favorite tool of cybercriminals these days is a phishing attack. This is when they trick victims into clicking on links that lead them to malicious sites or install malware onto their gadgets.
Here are some important safety steps to avoid falling victim to phishing attacks:
- Be cautious with links - If you get a text or email 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Check your online accounts - The site Have I Been Pwned allows you to check if your email address has been compromised in a data breach.
Another popular attack perpetrated by cybercriminals is to infect victims' gadgets with ransomware. The criminal typically encrypts the victims' critical files and demands a ransom to regain access to them.
The best way to defeat a ransomware attack is to take precautionary steps. Here are suggestions that will help:
- Back up data regularly - this is the best way to recover your critical data if your computer is infected with ransomware.
- Make sure your backups are secure - do not connect your backups to computers or networks that they are backing up.
- Do NOT enable macros - You should never download PDF, Word or Excel files attached to unsolicited emails to begin with. If you do open one of these documents and it says that you need to turn on macros, close the file and delete it immediately. Allowing macros to run in one of these downloaded files could lead to ransomware infecting your gadget.
- Have strong security software - this will help prevent the installation of ransomware on your gadget.
Backing up your critical data is an important safety precaution in the fight against ransomware. It's the best way to recover your files without paying a ransom.
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