October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and with the recent security breach of 50 million Facebook users, I started researching cybersecurity to pull together this blog to help us all to protect our lives online. The amount of information available is massive and there are statistics and studies on everything, but what is most telling and frightening is the lack of care the average person takes with their cybersecurity.
Chubb Limited conducted a cybersecurity survey this year and the findings are often at odds. While 86% of survey participants are concerned about cybersecurity, only 12% are concerned about using public wi-fi or aware that public wi-fi is one of the most common attack points for your personal information. And only 4% are concerned about their connected in-home devices (Alexa, Apple Home, smart tv’s, etc.) despite these being yet another easy entry point for cyber-criminals. Especially since 41% do not secure their home wi-fi with a password!
We also have a severe misunderstanding of what data of ours is most vulnerable. While 80% of participants’ biggest concern was about data theft from their banks or other financial institutions; only 30% are concerned about theft of their medical records or social security numbers, which are more valuable and happened far more frequently. If a cybercriminal manages to bypass the high security of a financial institution, that institution will reimburse you for any funds lost. But if someone accesses your social security number from your medical records, they can create an entirely new credit trail in your name. In 2017, there were 16.7 million victims of identity theft, a record high. And for the first time, more social security numbers were stolen than credit card numbers. Clearly showing how much more value there is in social security numbers.
And the threat is not just to our identity and there is a great lack of knowledge of what these threats may be and how to prepare or stop them. A full 50% of those surveyed could not define “ransomware” and 12% had never heard of it, yet it is one of the most common computer system attacks.
So now that I’ve shared some scary statistics, what can YOU do to protect yourself? Let’s look at some recommendations from the experts!
- CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT! Every citizen is entitled to a FREE annual credit check, so please go to one the credit bureaus and get yours. This will enable you to see all actions and requests for your credit.
- Secure your home networks. Always lock down your home wi-fi with the highest level of security and do not rely on the default password, change it and then remember to change it regularly. If you have a home network with your personal computers, create a “visitor” wi-fi network so that your friends and family can jump on your wi-fi but not be on the same “network” as your personal files.
- Change your passwords regularly. Many websites force you to change your password every 90 days, six months, etc. and you should always follow this for ALL your logins, even if the site or app does not require it. Also, do NOT use the same password for all your logins, and remember to use special characters, numbers, random capitals and don’t use your dog’s name in every password.
- Install and activate security software on your eligible devices and remember to update them regularly. Security software companies are vigilant about learning about new viruses and then creating patches to help keep their consumers protected. They do the hard work and we just need to do the updates!
- DO NOT SHARE YOUR LOG-IN PASSWORDS! In a perfect world, every single password would be different (and they really should be), but I’m guilty of using the same password across a few different sites…which could allow someone who I shared my Netflix password with to try on other sites.
- Don’t click weblinks willy-nilly. There are bots, worms and viruses just waiting for you to click on “Guaranteed Program to Make You A Millionaire in Six Months”. Don’t do it. This goes for email as well. A common scenario is you receive an email purportedly from FedEx with a shipping notice link. This is a great set up because consumers do so much online shopping these days. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK, instead go back to the confirmation or shipping notice you received from the company you ordered from…99% of the time you do not get a shipping notice from the shipping company and clicking that link opens the door for a hacker to start stealing your personal information or planting a keystroke bot that can and will steal your passwords.
While our ability to be online has made our lives super convenient, it has also opened up overwhelming avenues for criminals to try to attack your personal information, so it is imperative that you know the dangers, understand where/how you are vulnerable and then how to best protect yourself. Cybercriminals are industrious and it’s up to us to keep on top of the available security measures to try to shut them down!
 Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property & casualty insurance company and the largest commercial insurance in the US.
 About the Survey: This is the second survey by Chubb measuring consumers’ approaches and behaviors toward cyber risk. Conducted by Research Now SSI, a leading global provider of first-party consumer and professional data, the online survey was fielded between June 6-13, 2018. The results are based on 1,204 completed surveys. A breakdown of respondents is as follows:
- Gender: Male (42%), Female (58%)
- Age: 18-34 (27%), 35-54 (40%), 55+ (33%)
- Regions: Midwest (20%), Northeast (23%), West (25%), South (32%)
- Socioeconomic Status: Middle Class (25%), Upper Middle Class (25%), Mass Affluent (25%), High-Net-Worth (25%)