As the internet has become an integral part of daily life, we’ve been rewarded with the convenience of paying bills and banking online, the joy of staying in touch with faraway friends and family, and the increased knowledge of having the world at our literal fingertips. However, along with the good, there have also been some less-desirable side effects, like the rise of cybercrime. Cyber attacks and data breaches have become increasingly commonplace – it seems we learn of a new data hack on an almost daily basis. And as technology continues to evolve rapidly, it’s hard to know what we as consumers can do to protect our data security. Start with being more discerning about what personal information you choose to share, and with who.
If you are banking online, regularly check your statements and order an annual credit report. Monitor what information is already available about you on the Internet by using a people search engine like Nuwber. Enable 2-step authentication, use strong passwords, and change them regularly, and consider investing in a VPN. And last but certainly not least, educate yourself on the latest cybersecurity trends to stay informed about the risks associated with putting your data online.
1 A cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds
You read that correctly. A Clark School study at the University of Maryland found that we are being bombarded by cyberattacks, with a hacker attack launched every 39 seconds. This affects 1 in 3 Americans each year.
2 7.9 billion records have been exposed this year
According to Security Magazine, the first nine months saw a 33.3% increase in data breaches from the year before, exposing 7.9 billion records. And the year isn’t over yet. Not only are hackers launching increasingly sophisticated attacks, but our non-secure usernames and passwords also make us easy targets. Further exacerbating this problem is the growing number of devices, from wearables and home appliances to cars and security systems, which provide ever greater amounts of data that are vulnerable to exploitation.
3 The cost of cybercrime is expected to top $6 trillion
That’s the estimate put forth by Cybersecurity Ventures, up from $3 trillion in 2015. Cyberattacks are the fastest growing crime in the United States. Given the scale, scope, and precision of these hacks, the costs have skyrocketed. Companies are left to address the theft of, damage to, and destruction of data, as well as the associated costs of these attacks. While we tend to think of the well-publicized attacks on larger companies that tend to dominate the news cycle, small businesses are increasingly falling victim to cyberattacks as well. This is why user access reviews are crucial to any company’s data security practices. To reduce this risk, a user access review policy must be developed. A thorough policy can help save an organization time and money while mitigating cybersecurity risks and protecting sensitive information.
4 Insufficient email security continues to pose a major security threat to both individuals and businesses.
According to Avanan’s Global Phish Report, 1 in 99 emails is a phishing attack. Often phishing attacks try to disguise themselves as legitimate emails from businesses, banks, and the like. If you receive an email from a suspicious address, resist the urge to open it. If you do open a “phishing” email that has an attachment, avoid clicking on it. In particular, a significant percentage of “.doc” and “.dot” attachments are malicious, so when in doubt, don’t open!
5 It takes companies around 6 months to identify a data breach
That’s a substantial amount of time for your sensitive personal data to be exposed before a company becomes aware of it, let alone begins to address it.
6 After a data breach, companies experience a drop in reputation and profits
The fallout from a data breach or cyber attack can negatively impact a company in a myriad of ways. In terms of reputation, after a cyberattack, consumers lose trust in the company and make them less likely to trust the company with their data in the future. From an economic perspective, a data breach can result in an average 7.27% drop in shares, according to Comparitech. There is also profit loss stemming from time lost trying to address the data breach.
7 Spending on cybersecurity is expected to reach $170.4 billion
In response to the increasing threats and increasing costs of cybercrime, governments, businesses, and organizations are expanding their cybersecurity budgets. Cybercrime is constantly evolving as new technology is developed. The prevalence of mobile devices, the rise of the Internet of Things, and the growing population of internet users all present unique opportunities for hackers to exploit data security vulnerabilities.
8 There is a serious shortage in qualified cybersecurity personnel
Despite the increased spending on cybersecurity, the shortage of cybersecurity experts will persist. Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that there will be 3.5 million open cybersecurity positions. Companies that are already under-staffed will be scrambling to fill cybersecurity positions or must train existing employees to meet this additional challenge.
9 There will be about 200 billion devices connected to the internet
The Internet of Things (IoT), which encompasses all the internet-connected devices we humans use is expected to expand to approximately 200 billion unique devices, according to Symantec. Because the IoT is so complex and involves such an enormous amount of data, this makes it a prime target for hackers. Furthermore, many consumers aren’t aware of the security threats posed by their newly-connected devices.
10 95% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error
That’s according to a study by IBM, and it means that many cyberattacks are preventable – which is good news! By investing in cybersecurity training for all employees and instituting simple measures like 2-step authentication and a password manager, an organization can significantly decrease the risk that an employee error will enable a data breach.
This is a LOT of information and statistics. For consumers, the takeaway here is that you can never be too careful with who you choose to share your data with and how you share that information. The risks of cybercrime and its subsequent costs are only expected to increase. Be aware of the potential dangers of sharing your data and actively monitor what data is available about you online. All in all, it’s better to be precautious and keep your data as safe as you can, rather than have to deal with the consequences of a data breach.