Cyber security statistics indicate that cyber crime is an increasing threat to the safety, security and financial lives of individuals and families. Yet, according to a Chubb Cyber Risk survey, many people don't fully appreciate that some of their routine activities may make it easier for cyber criminals to access sensitive personal data.
Here are some common misconceptions about cyber risk — and the Internet safety realities.
Only 40% of those Chubb surveyed use security software to protect their computers from malicious attacks. This is a mistake.
It's the business of security software providers to keep up to date with the latest malware and other cyber threats. This is one of the easiest and most basic steps that anyone can take to protect their personal data from being hacked.
The takeaway: Buy security software and diligently keep it up to date.
Whether for a newsletter sign-up or a free offer, most people provide their email address without much thought. But in addition to attracting more "junk" to your inbox, giving your email to sources you haven't vetted may open the gateway for phishing or other email scammers. What's more, sophisticated hacking software can aggregate data about you from various sources and form enough of a personal profile to steal your identity – and every little bit of extra information helps them.
The takeaway: Think twice before sharing your email address.
Actually, public WiFi — as is sometimes available in coffee shops, airports and the like — is by nature insecure. Cyber criminals can easily monitor networks that aren't password protected and intercept sensitive personal or financial data, such as account credentials or passwords. A malicious actor may even deliberately set up a WiFi link with a name similar to the establishment with the specific intention of intercepting information. Always use caution when signing into an unfamiliar network in a public space. This advice applies to all devices — computers, phones and tablets. If no secure network is available, try using your phone as a hotspot.
If you feel you must use public WiFi, avoid accessing websites that require you to sign in with personal information.
The takeaway: Remember – in the long run, you don't save anything if your personal information ends up being stolen.
According to the Chubb survey, almost nobody worries about their "smart" electronics — like connected thermostats, doorbells, baby monitors or home security cameras. Yet these have been shown to be extremely vulnerable to hacking, and devices with listening devices or cameras can be used to spy on their owners.
Experts advise not to buy any of these devices used (or returned), or from a retailer you don't know. Open boxes or unfamiliar sources may mean the electronics are already corrupted with malware. In addition, always change the default password — criminals leverage the fact that many people fail to change the easily obtainable, factory-set password on the devices.
The takeaway: Be smarter than your smart-home devices.
Hackers exploit security vulnerabilities in the time between when a glitch is discovered and "later" — which is when most people get around to updating their software to a version that corrects the bug.
The takeaway: Don't delay your cyber security updates.
Our survey indicated that many parents assume their digital native kids don't need to be taught internet safety social media safety (for example, how to prevent cyberbullying). But as today's kids of all ages are online more than ever, they are exposed to increasingly sophisticated criminal activity.
The takeaway: Make an effort to understand age-appropriate best practices for monitoring Internet activity and teaching your kids Internet safety tips.
Computer hacking for the purpose of stealing identities and money is generally done by huge, global criminal enterprises that are getting more and more sophisticated every day. As evidence result, in the past 10 years, there has been 930% growth in cyber insurance claims. And, as anyone who has had his or her identity stolen well knows, remediation can be time-consuming, painful and costly.
The takeaway: As cyber-crime has become ubiquitous and major data breaches everyday occurrences, you may want to assess your exposures and mitigate the risk with a personal cyber insurance policy.