Beauty & Brains in Branding & Web

Cyber Criminals: Profile of an Online Predator

blog_04_300x120Another day, another breach in Internet security. For the second time in a few short weeks, celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, and Kate Bosworth were the target of professional hackers who uploaded dozens of the star’s personal photos online. Who is to blame for the breach? The photos were allegedly stolen off of iCloud, leading the general public to finger Apple as the culprit, but the company has insisted that there were no breaches in privacy on their part.

What does that mean? According to Apple, the hackers gained access to the accounts through password guessing – figuring out the answers to the security questions we create when we’ve forgotten our passwords. What is your mother’s maiden name? Where did you go to high school? What is your pet’s name? Answering these questions is all it takes to gain access to your email accounts, your iCloud, your photos and documents.

So what’s the problem with your cyber security?

The reality is that our passwords aren’t strong enough. A weak password is the equivalent of locking your car door with a twist tie. Except, where car thieves are pretty easy to profile, the modern Internet thief is entirely anonymous, operating in complete secrecy, and with more collaboration. What’s more, these criminals tend to work from foreign countries, making them even more difficult to pin down and eventually convict. Just how hard is it to catch a cyber theif? Only 0.0019% of cyber criminals were convicted in the US in 2010. 

While profiling a cyber criminal is tough, there are certain things we do know:

WHO: 76% of internet thieves are men
HOW: Cyber criminals work in groups, with over 60% having 6 or more members. Many are fully operational businesses with executives and managers.
WHERE: Over 49% of global attack traffic comes from APAC. Hosting providers are the key to cyber-crime success. Most of these come out of Russia and China.

With a sophisticated infrastructure and highly specialized technology, cyber criminals have what it takes to break into computer systems, and they are constantly one step ahead of the latest security measures. This means that we need to maximize our personal online security. It’s time to double lock our online accounts and hide the key in a safe, so to speak.

So what can we do to protect our online security?

1) Check your sources! Before making an online purchase, know who you’re giving your personal information to. Ensure it is a reputable source.
2) Create random passwords. Not your name, not your cat’s name. Something no one could simply guess. And ensure that the answers to security questions are things only YOU would know. Not your middle initial.

1) Respond to spam emails. Most spam emails contain malware, the number one way for Internet thieves to access your information.
2) Give out your social security/insurance number to an unknown employer.

You might be tempted to ask why anyone would want access to your accounts. If you’re not a celebrity, there’s nothing too interesting right? This all too common mentality is what makes it so easy for online thieves and hackers to fraud your credit card and even steal your identity. The good news is that it’s not hard to protect yourself. It only takes a few minutes to change your password, and a cautious mindset to avoid placing delicate information in the wrong hands.

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