Not too long ago, many of us thought that cybersecurity was something for corporations to worry about. Perhaps we thought, who would want to hack a completely unknow person like me? The truth is technology has grown at an exponential rate and so has cybercrime. Cybercrime doesn’t just affect big businesses and national governments. Cybercriminals target individuals just as relentlessly as they do large companies and organizations. What are some personal cybersecurity concerns for 2023? And what are some ways we can protect ourselves?

Personal Cybersecurity Concerns for 2023

The Internet of Things

It sounds like the title of a sci-fi novel, but it’s very much a reality. IBM describes the internet of things (IoT) as the “the concept of connecting any device … to the Internet and to other connected devices.” It is “a giant network of connected things and people – all of which collect and share data about the way they are used and about the environment around them.” Basically, the IoT encompasses anything from smart microwaves and fridges to self-driving cars and fitness devices (to name a few).

The expanse of the IoT has permeated every aspect of society. Because these devices are not often used to store sensitive data, IoT devices hardly have any inbuilt security. However, even if they are not used to store data, attackers will often use them as ways to access other networked devices. IoT devices have made our lives convenient, and we use them daily without much thought. We can benefit from these the most if we are aware of the possible risks and take measures to use them wisely.

Impersonation Scams

Cybercriminals usually impersonate well-known businesses or organizations. These range from simple to sophisticated scams to convince you they are genuine, in hopes that you feel comfortable sharing personal or financial information whether on the phone, via email, or text. Business email compromise (BEC) attacks have been predicted to soar in 2023 according to Forbes Advisor.

BEC attacks tend to have a high success rate since they involve spoofed emails that look like they’re coming from a trusted source such as a company executive, employee, or vendor. Scammers use authority and urgency to get their victims to suspend their critical thinking and act quickly. Although BEC attacks may be targeted at business, they can also be used to scam individual people. For example, an email that seems to come from your boss asking you to urgently review a document before a meeting, or to provide some personal information, can easily catch us unaware.

‘Pig Butchering’

No, cybercriminals have not taken to hurting pigs as a hobby (that we know of). ‘Pig Butchering’ in this sense refers to a crypto scam where the scammers message someone’s phone, usually via WhatsApp. The message will initially say something like: “Hey, are we still on for lunch on Friday?” The objective is to get a response and build a friendship online. At a later point, they will ask the victim if they know anything about crypto. With promises of making a lot of money fast, they will lure the victim to a sham website. Once the victim invests, they will keep pressuring them to pour in more money. This is how the scammers “fatten the pig” until the right time to “butcher it,” when they take all the money out of the account.

What You Can Do

We have considered just a few of the most relevant personal cyber security concerns. The rate of growth and evolution of new scams is unpredictable, and there’s no method that will keep you 100% safe from these attacks. However, there are some things you can do to mitigate many of these potential threats. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, lists the following 4 steps to protect yourself:

    • Implement multi-factor authentication on your accounts and make it significantly less likely you’ll get hacked.
    • Update your software. Turn on automatic updates.
    • Think before you click. More than 90% of successful cyber-attacks start with a phishing email.
    • Use strong passwords, and ideally a password manager to generate and store unique passwords.

Most if not, all social engineering attacks will attempt to trigger some emotion such as urgency, fear, greed, or curiosity. Criminals want to suspend your critical thinking so that you will take an action that you normally would not. Remember, between stimulus and response, you have the freedom to choose which action to take. So, if some messaging produces an emotional response remember to stop and take a minute to think about the request before taking any action.

Stay educated, implement security recommendations, stay safe.

Rosa Rowles

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