Singer Madonna summed up the 1980s with her song “Material Girl” and its lyrics… “we’re living in a material world.” But the funky UK acid jazz band Jamiroquai get boasting rights as prognosticators for their 1996 hit “Virtual Insanity,” a title that pretty much sums up the ‘e-world’ that’s existed since the web went mainstream.
Today, there is virtual reality, virtual currencies, and an internet where virtually anything imagined can be found. But this new reality is one that's also filled with huge amounts of virtual crime that nets e-criminals tens of billions of dollars each year. An interesting report from mid-2021 noted that ransomware gangs are now using virtual machines to disguise their attacks and deploy malware.
All of this web crime insanity is virtually impossible for most of us to comprehend as with the aid of artificial intelligence and other advances, it's becoming increasingly impossible to know what is real online – which makes it all the more important that you protect your website or personal data as much as possible and not succumb to either a feeling of hopelessness or the delusion that you won't be a victim.
Wi-Fi Systems Are Often Open Doors for Cybercriminals
There are some simple things that even those who are only relatively computer literate can do to protect themselves, such as installing a safe browser app that scans the sites you are visiting and alerts you to potentially dangerous ones in real-time, while keeping you safe from ransomware and malware attacks. Another important but sometimes overlooked element of e-security is WiFi security.
Many people have gotten used to free Wi-Fi at public locations, and yes, “free” is nice, but such systems are essentially unguarded and provide cybercriminals a welcome mat into your computer. Others use a home or an office system that is often set up with some kind of presumption that no one would want to take advantage of glaring vulnerabilities.
Wi-Fi systems require a password, but many people use something easy to remember such as their phone number or other basic data like a birthday. This needs to be changed immediately to something strong to deter would-be evildoers from hacking into your system. Secondly, always enable network encryption by turning on your router’s encryption setting.
Experts say the most recent and effective encryption feature available is WPA2 which is an abbreviation for ‘Wi-Fi Protected Access 2,’ a stronger data protection and network control system for your router. Next, make sure to disable remote access and install or turn on a firewall to prevent malicious attacks and keep your network safe.
‘Safe Browser Apps’ are Highly Recommended – Stay Safe in Real-Time
Using a safe browser every time you go online can help you avoid the top five network security threats which include viruses, Trojan horse attacks, spyware and adware, phishing attacks, and malware. Viruses have been part of the online world for forever, but Trojan horse attacks are increasingly snaring web users as they may even come from an email that appears to be from someone you know.
Or they might be embedded in some false advertisement, and once you click on it, you download malware into your system that infiltrates your computer by looking like a standard piece of software but is a program designed to retrieve and steal passwords… and even hijack your webcam! Spyware and adware track browsing habits to show you advertisements and pop-ups – and sometimes this is nothing more than a way for unscrupulous companies to make a few bucks.
However, other times adware or spyware can contain keyloggers that record sensitive information. Having each key you press tracked can result in identity theft, which is a nightmare no one wants to live through.
This really shouldn’t have to be harped on in the year 2022, but we can’t help but keep repeating warnings about passwords as so many people continue to use absolutely terrible ones! It’s essential to use complex passwords, as they are the first line of defense you have to secure your online presence and accounts.
It seems hard to believe, but folks are still using passwords such as ‘password’ or ‘123456’ – these are so common that researchers have found that 1 in every 7 passwords is something any cybercriminal could guess in a few tries. Sure, it’s hard to remember a unique password for every account and site, but it’s easier to find a system of strong passwords than to be forced to pay to have your computer unlocked or have data stolen. Try using password phrases.
Think of something you like and can easily remember and turn it into a phrase. For example, if you’re a basketball fan you might choose a password for one site such as “Michael Jordan 6 NBA championships.” Turn that into a password like so: “[email protected]$.” This is a password unlikely to be cracked. Also, many web tools exist that create and store complex passwords.
It’s 2022 and the virtual insanity is only going to grow more insane! Don’t be a victim! Use common sense and basic protection such as a safe browser every time you go online.