Security

Don’t Learn Online Security Lessons the Hard Way

Sep 08, 2021

With the recent spike in COVID variant cases nationwide, the likelihood of school and work returning fully to normal is very much up in the air. Disruptions are likely, meaning the role of technology in any given household remains critical.

Data security in your home is as pertinent as ever. That’s because, experts say, the average consumer is unaware of how vulnerable they really are when they or their family members are online.  

Security Magazine recently addressed this topic, noting four areas where users don’t fully appreciate the risks for being hacked by cybercriminals. They include Internet of Things, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and email, all of which give hackers an opportunity to invade and infest a computer. 

Of the four threats, perhaps none are as often underestimated as email. Most people know to watch out for their banking credentials or their PayPal account, but few appreciate just how vulnerable they are through their ordinary, everyday email. Hackers have a variety of tools by which to hijack an email account, and anyone can be a target.  

The most common threats include spam (fake advertising or offer) and phishing (a fake email doctored to look like the real thing). Once the user clicks on the bogus ad or email, the hacker gains entry and does all kinds of nasty things including deploying a virus or ransomware, which is locking up data until paid a ransom. 

Another often-overlooked vulnerability is the Internet of Things (IoT), and while you may think you’ve never heard of that, chances are you are using it every day. Smart watches, smart TVs, smart thermostat – pretty much anything in the home with “smart” in the name – collect and catalogue enormous amounts of data and are often a gateway for hackers. As Norton.com notes, “Cybercriminals have hijacked baby monitors and spied on people using their webcams. If you own a smart home device, your privacy and security could be at stake.” 

The same goes for Bluetooth, which is counterintuitive because Bluetooth operates on such a weak signal, most people think that makes it harder to hack, right? Wrong. Criminals have developed technology that allows them to pluck these signals from a distance or they just learn enough about your life to get into closer proximity. And, because Bluetooth opens up a channel for two devices to communicate, it can be pretty easy for the crooks to exploit.  

The weaknesses of a Wi-Fi network are similar to those of Bluetooth, but with a twist. Because Wi-Fi is the backbone to so many devices in a typical home or office, it acts both as the gateway and the subway to the successful cybercriminal.  

The one thing all four of these have in common is that humans is the weakest link in the security chain. That’s because users either don’t know the threats (especially kids) or they ignore basic security rules. This can open up any home to an expensive and stressful breach.  

Strategies for combating these elements includes investing in antivirus software, deploying multi-factor authentication paired with strong passwords and creating secure email gateways and backup. You should also choose an Internet Service Provider that offers robust security, such as Kinetic Secure, which guards against identity theft, shields devices against viruses and malware and is constantly updated to match new threats, all without affecting user access or functionality. It’s a best-in-class option for keeping you and your family secure while online. 

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