This year has been quite tumultuous in terms of digital security. An array of new threats have popped up in the past six months, and plenty more are surely lurking on the horizon. It seems as if you can’t read tech industry news without seeing stories about all sorts of data breaches, malware and remote hacking. Unfortunately, these digital threats will likely continue throughout the summer of 2016 and beyond. Let’s take a look at some of the top digital security threats that will challenge computer users this summer.
Ransomware isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, yet it is continuously evolving as time goes on. This virus actually takes control of a user’s computer and freezes him out until he pays the hacker’s ransom. Once the ransom is paid, control is relinquished back to the computer operator, and the hacker moves on to his next target. This is a particularly nasty form of digital crime, and it is getting progressively worse each day. Hackers are even able to obtain the CryptoLocker version of the virus for free, while others turn to the black market for various versions of ransomware. If ransomware encrypts your files, you are in quite a jam. You won’t be able to access any of your information until you pony up the money to the hackers.
Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated that it is prudent for ransomware victims not to pay the ransom and have a proper backup and recovery system in place.
It is important to note that this hack can affect more than individual computers; it also has the potential to impact entire networks. As a result, a single infection can cripple a company’s operations. Be proactive and educate your co-workers about ransomware. This virus does not automatically load onto computers and networks; rather, it requires the user to make a mistake in order for it to wreak its havoc. Remind your co-workers about the dangers of clicking on shady-looking e-mails, links, attachments and other downloads. Also, be sure to back up your files on a regular basis. This way, if ransomware attacks your computer and your system is wiped, you can lean on your saved files for a full restoration.
The Rise of Data Breaches
This summer will likely be rife with massive data breaches. Data breaches have been in the spotlight since Target’s enormous security breach in 2013. Target’s failure to secure its internal data led to more than 100 million customers’ information being exposed to malevolent hackers. In the last couple of years, large data breaches have occurred at an array of corporations aside from Target. Hotels are especially vulnerable, as evidenced by data breaches at Starwood and Hilton in 2015. Look for these data breaches to continue this summer and beyond. Eventually, hackers will likely shift their attention to easier targets as retailers move toward point-of-sale terminals that function with credit and debit card EMV chips.
Mind Your Browser
The average person has no idea that his web browser can be hacked. Consider the amount of time you spend online; if you are like most people, you use a web browser for at least a couple of hours per day. This is precisely why hackers have turned their attention to web browser plug-ins. All it takes is a single security flaw in your web browser, and you can be subjected to a hack. The hacker simply needs you to surf the World Wide Web to a malicious website to put a virus on your system.
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