5 steps to protect yourself against cyber crime in 2022

With many of us spending more time online than ever, cybercriminals are coming up with new and creative ways to steal our personal information. Between data breaches, identity theft and email scams, we’ve seen plenty of cyber threats over the past couple of years, and that’s sure to continue.

Luckily, there are easy, practical steps you can take to shore up your cybersecurity and stay on top of 2022 cybersecurity trends.

Here’s how to protect yourself against cyber crime this year.

#1 Learn how to spot a phishing email

Meet your cybersecurity mantra for 2022: don’t take the bait! Phishing scams peaked during the pandemic, and they continue to be a persistent threat. The goal? Lure you in and get you to click on a malicious link or attachment so hackers can infect your device or steal your data. 

The most common phishing emails pose as healthcare facilities, banks, social media sites and online stores, which are all companies you expect to hear from as a consumer. They often look authentic, featuring familiar logos, names and content.

As for how to identify phishing attempts, treat an email as suspicious if:

  • It has typos in the subject line or body copy.
  • It features weird or grammatically incorrect language.
  • It was sent from an email address that doesn’t match the company’s URL. For example, [email protected] is much more legitimate than [email protected]
  • It uses a different email address than emails you’ve previously received from the company.
  • It requests sensitive information, like passwords or credit card numbers. No reputable company will ask you for those kinds of details via email. 
  • It includes unsolicited links or attachments. If you hover over the link and see a strange URL or file type (like .exe), that’s a sign the email might be a scam. While you’re at it, check whether the link begins with https:// — the “s” stands for “secure,” which means you’re connecting to the site with Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology.
  • It’s trying to get you to take action ASAP. Hackers are leveraging our collective confusion and uncertainty to send panic-inducing emails. 

Top tip: If you accidentally open an email from a suspicious sender, avoid replying or clicking on anything. Instead, mark it as spam or report it to your employer’s IT department. 

#2 Connect to a VPN when using public WiFi

Maybe you work from the library or a co-working space a few times a week. Maybe you make the most of your time waiting at the airport or doctor’s office to get some work done. It’s inevitable that you’ll need to hop onto a public WiFi network at some point. 

To protect your privacy and any data you access during your session, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs encrypt your data and hide your IP address, which helps to strengthen your cybersecurity. You can connect to a VPN on your desktop, laptop or smartphone, so you’ll have peace of mind even when you’re on the go.

If you work from home, it’s worth jumping on a VPN before signing into the intranet and other company systems, too. This is one of our internet security tips because it helps you stay private and anonymous online.

Top tip: While you’re at it, go ahead and activate meeting passwords and waiting rooms for video conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. This will prevent unauthorised users from joining your virtual calls.

#3 Choose complex passwords

Longer passwords are stronger passwords, and it’s important to have a unique password for every single account you use. Sure, it makes your life easier to have the same password across your email, social media and shopping sites — but unfortunately, it means hackers only need to crack the code once to access a lot of your information.

Challenge yourself to create strong, complex passwords that include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. AIm for 12 characters or more, and use sentences or obscure words that mean nothing next to each other. If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords, you might want to invest in a password manager.

These software programs are like password vaults. They store and encrypt your passwords so you don’t need to commit them to memory, and notify you if one of your accounts has been compromised so you can quickly change the password.

Top tip: Set up MFA for your most important accounts. This requires you to enter your username, password and one more piece of verification — like a code texted to your phone — before you can log in. It might take a few extra seconds, but this simple set goes a long way in blocking automated cybersecurity attacks.

#4 Install a good antivirus software

Think of antivirus software as another line of defence, and an easy way to complement everything else you’re doing to boost your cybersecurity.

A premium software like ESET Internet Security protects your devices from a range of cyber attacks, including malware, ransomware and identity theft. It blocks offensive content and checks attachments and images for viruses. Plus, it flags unwanted devices trying to access your network and scans your router for vulnerabilities, which is key if you’re working remotely or accessing personal information online. If you’re an Android user, ESET Mobile Security offers the same multi-layered defence against common and advanced cyber threats. It can secure all your Android gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets, under one shared license.

Top tip: Always accept software updates. As tempting as it is to ignore them when you’re in the middle of something, manufacturers are constantly releasing patches to fix flaws and bugs as they come up. 

When it comes to cybersecurity, don’t delay

The start of a new year is the perfect time to assess any gaps you have in your security. Along with learning as much as you can about best practices, head over to ESET for more cybersecurity advice.

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