Long gone are the times when cyber attacks were something we only heard about in the movies. They made it look like a fun pastime used to fight against oppression, not something that can affect every single person, but in real life it is actually completely different.
Cybercrime has become an ever-present threat in our lives that can affect everyone, from individuals to businesses, or even governments. Cyber threat in the United States has been on the constant rise, and the only way this growth can be stopped is by governments, businesses and individuals taking a proactive approach to fight against it.
In order to be able to defend yourself from cyber threats, you need to know what you will be defending yourself against.
As the most common type of social engineering attacks, phishing and pharming take the first spot also as the most common cybercrime in the US in 2020. In 2020, there were 241,342 victims of phishing and pharming in the United States, and that number keeps on rising. Even though the social engineering attacks are one of the oldest forms of fraud, it is still so efficient that cybercriminals keep using it but they did make it more sophisticated and harder to detect. Human-activated breaches are actually the most significant security risk because in most cases we can control the technology, but not the people. When it comes to the phishing or pharming, cyber criminals pretend to be a trusted source and trick the users to give them their confidential data or to open a malicious link that infects users data with malware.
This type of attack has a wide range as the fraudsters can impersonate anyone, from government officials or health authorities, especially now in the time of COVID-19 pandemic, to business executives contacting their employees. Google’s Gmail said it was blocking more than 100 million phishing emails per a day, 18 million of which were related to COVID-19. The best way to prevent a phishing attack is by being aware of the dangers of cyber attacks and using your common sense when it comes to any emails, texts or websites that require your confidential data. Even though it looks legitimate, that doesn’t mean it is. Instead of clicking a link in the email you can search for the website yourself and access it through your browser, or call your executive or government agency to confirm they are the ones who sent you the email.
Second most common type of cybercrime in the US, with 108,869 victims in 2020. This covers most of the e-commerce related frauds as it deals with the frauds that affect customers ( non-delivery) and the ones that cause financial damage to the merchants ( non-payment). Non-payment fraud happens when the merchant has shipped the goods and services but no payment was received, while non-delivery fraud happens when the buyer hasn’t received goods or services they have paid for. This is why you should always purchase merchandise from a trusted source and check what other customers have said about the company.
With 76,741 reported victims in 2020, extortion is the third most common cybercrime in the US. While there are several types of extortion fraud, the one that is affecting most people is ransomware which simply put, is used to gain access to your data and hold it as a hostage until you pay the ransom. These attacks have a wide impact because they affect not only the organization or business whose data hackers have blocked, but also all users who use that organization or business. For
example, in 2020 there were 1,681 U.S. schools,colleges and universities hit with ransomware, resulting in canceled classes, disrupting students and teachers lives and sensitive data being published and educational institutions experiencing financial loss due to paid ransom.
Burying your head in the sand is no longer an option, because that doesn’t make you any less of a target. Cybercriminals can find financial gain everywhere, which makes everyone a valid target for them, no matter how determined you are that it won’t happen to you. But, by knowing what you are fighting against and taking the proper proactive measures you will be able to protect yourself against these threats.