Why Cybersecurity is So Important
Chuck's Cyber Wall
I sometimes get asked Why Cybersecurity is so Important. Keep reading, and I’ll break it down for you.
This morning, I received an email from the USPS (United States Postal Service) in my personal email. In the subject field, it read, “FWD: Reminder: Your USPS track number.” Without having to look at the email address (USPS <[email protected]>) I knew it was spam. Of the numerous phishing emails I review for myself and clients as a cybersecurity expert, I found the standards on this one to be extremely poor.
Curious, I decided to delve a little deeper into this scam. It turns out that this particular type of phishing email has been successful enough times that the United States Postal Inspection Service has posted a warning about the scam on its site. That got me thinking that perhaps I should take another look at this scam email.
ON SECOND GLANCE
Most cybersecurity professionals call these Junk Email scams – except that this one managed to get past my Junk filters and into my inbox. When I went back to the email this time, I opened it on my mobile phone and immediately changed my assessment of the email.
The scammer constructed the email for mobile devices. It uses a very simple tactic that involves spoofing a familiar logo and creating an easy-to-touch button that takes you to a fake website. On top of this, the button image includes white space above and below, and is placed so it can be accidentally hit while scrolling. The scam website is designed to trick you into giving up personal information and paying false delivery fees, allowing them to potentially empty bank accounts and steal identities.
And that’s not all.
The website installs malware on your computer, allowing the scammer to hack your contact list and spoof your email account. Very likely, in the same way that they spoofed the email account of <[email protected]> to get the phishing email past our Junk mail filters.
These scams are the reason why cybersecurity matters to everyone.
PRACTICE GOOD CYBER HYGIENE
I often say that no matter how unimportant you think you are, no one is immune to cybercrime. Every piece of personal data has value on the dark web, and the more they get, the more advanced attacks become.
Let’s put this in another context. Public health organizations recommend that we get vaccines to protect ourselves and others. Whether it’s a flu shot, measles vaccine, or the Covid-19 vaccine, those who don’t get it are more likely to become infected and pass it on to others.
Cybersecurity is very similar.
If you’re not secure online, you are putting your friends and family at risk to cybercriminals. Intrusions into your computer expose your digital identity, open you to financial crime, and provides attackers with a path to everyone you know.
Practicing good Cyber Hygiene is a shared responsibility. Carelessness causes too many cyber-attacks to spread through contacts and could go undetected for months. It’s like the nightmare version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon. One person can click on an infected link, and before you know it, the scam has spread to tens of millions.
Think before you click.
I hear it often. Using Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication is time-consuming. Short lockout periods are frustrating. Yes, being secure takes effort, but we already know this. All of us lock our car and house doors. We all keep our money in banks and our wallets and purses secure on our person. We teach children to lock their bikes when leaving them in public places. Cybersecurity is just as important as all the other things we do daily to be secure.
Just as you would let a friend know if they left their windows down in the parking lot, if you see them doing something insecure online, say something.
Whether you’re teaching kids or seniors about computers or learning yourself, before using the internet, make sure there is an understanding of the risks and the awareness to spot potential problems. When you get frustrated with the security, stop and think about how your actions could impact your digital well-being and that of everyone you know. Being aware and secure will make it far easier for you to enjoy the content available on the internet.
Director of Cybersecurity and Marketing
I’ve always had a love of working with technology, being fortunate enough to have grown up with a grandfather who taught me how to fix things for myself and not be afraid to jump in and get my hands dirty. Over the last three decades, I’ve worked as a technician, trainer, technical writer, and manager in small businesses, enterprise organizations, and government. In addition, I’m an author, having published multiple works available online and in print. You can find my creative work at https://WritingDistracted.com