3 Ways to Secure Yourself From Common Web Attacks

With the increase in largely-publicized security breaches to corporate giants such as Google, Facebook, and Target, terms such as “phishing” and “ransomware” have been growing in popularity. You may know them as the fishy emails from seemingly legitimate companies telling you something is wrong with your account and urging you to insert your credentials.

What you may not know is that your credentials may very well be compromised, as they are often copied, thus putting you at risk, both financially and personally. 

Here are 3 things you can do today to protect yourself from malicious web attacks

1. Secure yourself from phishing scams.

What is phishing and how does it work?

Phishing is a popular tactic used to try to gain access to a person’s financial resources (commonly via email) by posing as a well-known person or company. Typically, one receives an email urging them to enter a cloned website that appears legitimate (i.e. to update their credit card details, etc.). Once they enter their login credentials, they are then recorded and stolen on the spoofed site. These attacks can be targeted towards a specific individual (such as a CEO of a bank) or to the masses at random.

How common are phishing attacks?

A new phishing site is created every 2 seconds on average, a figure that has grown by 65% over the past year and is continuing to grow in 2020. The most popular form of phishing is via email, with 1 out of 99 emails received being a phishing email. This form of attack accounts for 90% of all data breaches, costing billions of dollars of losses to the economy and an average of $53,987 annually for a small business.

Ransomware through phishing:

Ransomware is a type of malware sent by a cyber criminal that encrypts a victim’s files and demands ransom in exchange for returning the files back to the user. It can be passed by phishing emails (urging the recipient to download the ransomware-containing file) and by entities with low security measures in place. Just how big is the ransomware market? In 2019 it was estimated that the damages caused by ransomware exceeded $7.5 billion, with roughly 47% of businesses having been targeted.

2. Conduct safe web searches.

One of the easiest and fool-proof ways to protect yourself from cyberattacks is to avoid accessing malicious sites. Common web browsers may indicate if a website is dangerous or not, however they often fall short, issuing warnings only after the user has entered the site. Ensuring you use a safe search engine that lets you know which sites are safe or not prior to visiting them is crucial in protecting yourself from malicious sites, as shown in the image below.

 A safe search engine may also protect your data from being stored and shared with unauthorized entities, who may use it to track your activities online.

3. Only download safe documents.

Web downloads are a common way to spread malware to one’s computer. In fact, in 2019, about 60% of malicious email attachments and 20% of malicious web downloads were transferred through common document formats such as PDF, Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Here are the top document formats used to deliver malware by email in 2019:

https://blog.checkpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/prevent1.png

Based on Check Point ThreatCloud

What should you do if you fall victim to a cyber-attack?

Whether you’ve become a victim of phishing, ransomware, or malware, there are ways to overcome this unfortunate situation.

  1. Notify your bank right away. If you’ve inserted your credit card/account details, let them know right away to cancel the card and to be on the lookout for any fraudulent activity. Moreover, many banks have an identity theft team who can flag your account and place it on high alert for fraud.
  2. Change all your account passwords, especially if they are the same for all sites or close variations of the compromised account’s password.
  3. Contact the original company/person who was being impersonated to let them know their account has been compromised.
  4. Luckily, due to the aforementioned frightening figures, threat prevention technology has evolved accordingly and can prevent even the most advanced forms of cyberattacks. By simply installing an extension on your browser, such as ZoneAlarm’s Web Secure Free Chrome extension you can protect yourself from phishing attacks and ransomware attacks caused by phishing sites. This extension also ensures that you don’t download malicious files and visit malicious sites, thus protecting your privacy and data.
  5. Scan your computer for downloaded viruses. If you don’t have an antivirus software in place, you should at the bare minimum install one, such as ZoneAlarm Extreme Security. 

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