Increasingly we live our lives in the digital world. Stats suggest nine in 10 get their news from the internet today; half of us stream music; 60% of Americans watch Netflix; and roughly two hours in every day is spent messaging or on social media. But while we’re increasingly mobile in our habits, much of the time we’re still accessing the internet via our home network. There’s only one problem: the bad guys know this, and they’re coming after us.
Like any system, the home network is only as strong as its weakest link. So what can you do to make sure less tech-savvy members of the family don’t let the hackers in? Here’s some best practice advice from Trend Micro honed over the past 27 years we’ve ben protecting our customers.
What are the threats?
Online threats come in all sorts of shapes and sizes today. They could arrive by email, the web, and even mobile channels. If you were in any doubt of the scale of the problem, just take a look at the latest Trend Micro Midyear Security Roundup for 2016. It reveals that we blocked a staggering 29 billion threats in the first six months of the year alone. That’s already more than half of the total number blocked in all of 2015 – which shows just how quickly threats are growing.
Here are some of the top threats worth looking out for–and making sure all members of the family understand how to protect everyone from them:
Much of the rise in malware can be attributed to one particular threat: ransomware. This is a type of malware which, if it infects a computer on your home network, can spread throughout, locking users out of their most precious data. The only way to get it back is by paying the ‘ransom’ – after which the attackers claim they will allow access once again.
But getting infected is as easy as clicking on a link or opening an attachment in a spam email, or even visiting a legitimate-seeming website, if your PC isn’t protected. Trend Micro discovered 172% more classes or ‘families’ of this threat in the first half of 2016 than in the whole of 2015.
Many of those 29 billion threats will also be focused on stealing your personal information – especially financial details but also personal information that can be used for identity theft, or your online account log-ins. These details command a premium on the cyber underground where hackers trade them for money in online markets. Information-stealing malware can be downloaded at the click of a mouse – often disguised in URLs or attachments in spam emails, or social media messages. Sometimes visiting a website infected with malware is enough if your PC is not up-to-date with the latest software.
These are emails spoofed so they appear to come from a legitimate company. But the real purpose is to harvest your financial and personal information to sell on so that others can commit identity fraud with them.
These will work covertly to steal your banking log-ins so that hackers can access your account to siphon off funds. They’re typically hidden in the same way information-stealing malware is.
Malicious smartphone apps
Apps featured in unofficial iOS and Android marketplaces are typically unvetted and can harbor all sorts of nasty malware – from banking Trojans to malicious code designed to spy on the user. Nokia recently noted a 75% jump in the volume of global mobile malware, from 5.1 million samples in December 2015 to 8.9 million in July 2016.
How do I stay secure?
Whatever the risks, if malware is allowed onto your home network it could be very bad news for any device connecting to that network. So it’s vital to make sure everyone is aware of the dangers and knows what to do to minimize the chances of getting hit.
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk, including: