In addition to attacks affecting large companies, cybercriminals also target individual users with common practices such as phishing or identity theft to steal information.
A better approach to mitigate vulnerabilities is to act in advance before they happen. This emphasises the importance of educating users in the existence of security and privacy risks.
Johannesburg, 10th March 2023 – Becoming a victim of a cyberattack is not to anyone’s taste, but unfortunately, it is something that South Africans keeps experiencing at a time when more people are connected than ever. According to Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider specialised in cybersecurity worldwide, the last few years have seen a steady growth in terms of numbers of cyberattacks. A trend that seems to continue for this 2023, with cyberattacks showing a growth of 38% for 2022 in comparison with the previous year, and beyond, with damages expected to exceed $10 trillion by 2025 according to Cybersecurity Ventures.
Whilst contributing factors to happiness can vary greatly across individuals, there is no doubt of the impact of technology on a number of the key ingredients, such as human relationships, freedom, and trust with technology usage increasing especially after the lockdown conditions South Africans have had to contend with. To safeguard personal happiness, services and employers should strive to provide positive and safe experiences for users, in light of increased cyberattacks as reported above. In South Arica, more than 1 450 cyberattacks have taken place on average per week during the last six months of 2022, according to Check Point’s Threat Intelligence Report.
Check Point Software wants to emphasise the importance of users’ awareness on security and privacy risks they face when using their devices, sharing some essential practices that everyone should follow to ensure the defence of their data:
Always use strong passwords: many users keep the factory settings on critical devices such as the router, leading to inefficient security practices under the false belief that, once at home, they are already protected. As with any other device connected to the network, it is always recommended to keep as many barriers as possible active, using unique passwords created by a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers.
Keep devices updated: beyond keeping up with the latest trends, installing all available updates and patches can help to avoid potential vulnerabilities. If a single device suffers a cyberattack, this breach could easily spread within the connected networks.
Avoid the use of public wireless networks: it is common to find free Wi-Fi networks in many establishments and public places. However, researchers have shown that these types of networks are easy to breach, so should be only used for occasional browsing, avoiding the entry of passwords and personal data, as well as the use of sensitive applications such as banking or payment.
Prevent the exposure of sensitive data: social networks have meant a huge impact on society, becoming a fundamental pillar in human interactions. Nevertheless, it is important not to forget to be cautious when sharing content, as well as avoid sharing personal and sensitive data that could be used against us by third parties.
Stay alert and take nothing for granted: phishing is still one of the favourite techniques of cybercriminals. Experts’ recommendations point out the need of avoiding opening any message received from unknown senders, both via emails and mobile. But also, when receiving any suspicious communication, avoid clicking on any link or attachment. In case of further doubts, contact the related official entities to ensure the veracity of these messages.
“These phishing attempts are large-scale opportunistic attacks aimed at getting as many users as possible to provide their personal data. Some attacks will attempt to take advantage them or steal their information, while others will focus on plain attempts to deploy malware” says Charnie Lee, Country Manager for South Africa at Check Point. “The best defence against these threats, as always, is knowledge. Apply these suggested tips to stay safe and safeguard your work and personal happiness all around”.