Cybercrime is an ongoing threat in this century. It continues to evolve, with new threats surfacing every year.
When you hear and read about the range of cybercrimes out there, you might be tempted to stop using the internet entirely. That is probably an extreme case.
Instead, it’s a good idea to know how to recognize cybercrime, which can be the first step to helping protect yourself and your data. Taking some basic precautions and knowing who to contact when you see others engaged in criminal activities online are also important steps.
Police records show that the amount of money stolen from banks only, through cybercrime have risen over the years from Kshs. 14 billion in 2015, Kshs. 17 billion in 2016 and Kshs. 21 billion in 2017.
Anyone using the internet should exercise some basic precautions. Here are some tips you can use to help protect yourself against the range of cybercrimes out there:
- Use strong passwords
The first action is to secure your password. This statement might have become so normal as you see it every time you sign up for an account but a strong password does make a huge difference to how safe your account is. This is crucial, especially when it comes to safeguarding against cyber-stalking (where someone goes through all the information present on your computer or on social media) and hacking.
Make sure you have a strong, encrypted (8-10 digit, website generated password).Don’t repeat your passwords on different sites, and change your passwords regularly. Make them complex. That means using a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols.
An additional measure you can take is to make sure your phone or your computer’s bluetooth is switched off when not required.
Ensure that no one except the people in your house is aware of how to log onto the Wi-Fi you are using.
- Use a trusted anti-virus
Many people believe that there is no use of using an anti-virus but protecting your computer via an anti-virus can actually stop individuals from hacking into your computer and stealing your information. Investing in a good anti-virus is one of the key steps in ensuring safety from cybercrimes. Also, maintaining and upgrading your anti-virus is crucial.
Cyber-criminals frequently use known exploits, or flaws, in your software to gain access to your system. Strengthening those exploits and flaws can make it less likely that you’ll become a cybercrime target.
3.Manage your social media settings
Keep your personal and private information locked down. Cyber-criminals can often get your personal information with just a few data points, so the less you share publicly, the better.
- Take measures to help protect yourself against identity theft
Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains your personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. How? You might be tricked into giving personal information over the internet, for instance, or a thief might steal your mail to access account information. That’s why it’s important to guard your personal data. Virtual private network (VPN) — can also help to protect the data you send and receive online, especially when accessing the internet on public Wi-Fi.
- Know that identity theft can happen anywhere
It’s smart to know how to protect your identity even when traveling. There are a lot of things you can do to help keep criminals from getting your private information on the road. These include keeping your travel plans off social media and using a VPN when accessing the internet over your hotel’s Wi-Fi network.
- Never disclose your account details to any one or any personal data to someone on the internet or on the phone
Many people have been getting fraudulent messages that ask them to disclose their bank account details or transfer money to another account in promise of more money. People who aren’t aware of such scams fall prey to them. These messages or people are scams and must be reported to the police or bank authorities.
Unless you know the person and can authenticate him or her, never give your details.
In a way, fighting cyber-crime is everybody’s business. Think of it as an obligation to do your part in fighting the vice.
For most people, that means following a few simple, common-sense steps to keep yourself and your family safe. It also means reporting cybercrimes to relevant officials at the appropriate time.