Security breaches that result in the loss of privacy and the theft of both money and information are a growing problem in the United States and around the world.
Data from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) indicates that the number of annual security breaches that involve private information and records, may be increasing. According to a recent security report, over 809 security breaches have occurred in the United States during 2016, and over 29.7 million personal records were compromised during these attacks.
Tips to Secure Your Devices and Personal Information From Hackers
While cybercrime is a significant and widespread problem, there are a few steps that you can take to make it more difficult for hackers to exploit security breaches and access your devices. The following tips can help you to safeguard your device and make it resistant to attack.
Keep it Secret to Keep it Safe – Use Encryption
Using software to encrypt your computer’s hard drive can make your device harder to hack. This makes it very difficult for someone to access the files on your computer without your password.
Taking this simple precaution won’t foil a determined hacker. If the user needs to transfer files from the encrypted hard drive on one computer to another hard drive, the device becomes more vulnerable to attack.
Benefits of Hardware Encrypted USB Drives
Rather than using the Internet to transfer the files via email, or direct data download, it’s more secure to use a thumb drive with encrypted USB memory and full disk encryption to both store files securely and make secure transfers of information.
There are two main types of encryption for USB thumb drives: hardware-based and software-based encryption. Of the two, hardware encryption is more secure.
This is because hardware encryption is resistant to attack by malware that searches for encryption software as it installs on the device. When someone uses hardware-based encryption to secure the device, the hacker will need actual physical access to the drive in order to attempt to hack the files.
Military grade Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a 256 – bit encryption that has been authorized by the Federal government to secure sensitive and classified files, and should be the grade that is chosen as it’s currently rated the most secure on the market.
USBs with hardware encryption typically offer faster access to the files stored in memory since computer resources are not used. This type of storage also provides faster upload and download speeds as compared to those stored in the cloud.
Hardware encrypted drives don’t require a lot of expertise for users to be able to effectively use and deploy them. An issue with unauthorized port downloads remains, but port blocking software protects files on the encrypted USB from being copied to an unauthorized port.
Beware Phishing and Other Email Scams
Another way that hackers try to trick Internet users during attack is through their email account. In this scenario, hackers send a fake email that appears to be from a company or financial institution where the users is a customer. By clicking on any links or images in the email, the user downloads malicious code that triggers a security breach.
Some anti-virus programs scan emails before they are opened, and provide an extra layer of security for Internet users. However, users should still be cautious when clicking on links found in emails.
Be Careful What You Like and Share on Social Media
Social media malware is a growing problem on sites like Facebook and Twitter. In this type of attack, hackers lure unsuspecting users into clicking on a fake profile, or sharing an image, video or other post. These posts contain hidden files that are infected with malicious code. Once clicked, the code enables the hacker to access the device.
Once under control, the hacker searches the device for personal information, such as a social security number, or financial account information. Hackers can then steal their victim’s money, or identify, or allow the infected file to remain until further action is initiated at a later date.
Using anti-virus software, updating it frequently, and initiating regular security scans, protects users from unauthorized installation of malware.
Security breaches and other types of cybercrime occur frequently, and they are costly. According to a 2014 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled, Net Losses: Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime, security breaches cost individuals and businesses from around the world over $445 billion dollars each year! By taking simple steps to protect themselves from hackers, individuals and businesses can reduce their risk of loss from these crimes.