Our lives revolve online.We socialize online on social media,do online money transactions through internet banking,trade online through e-commerce,study online through e-learning platforms,only to name a few.As a result,our online lives are at risk of online crimes.people hack banks and steal money,our data on social media and websites is hacked and our private data is made public;many online crimes are taking place every day putting our online lives at risk.These crimes that take place online are called cybercrimes.
Cyber security comprises any technological attempts and processes designed to fight these cybercrimes.Cyber security activities are aimed at protecting our online lives.
CONSEQUENCES OF CYBERCRIMES
Cyber attacks have severe consequences to individuals, SMES, large corporations as well as governments. Start-up Online businesses eg e-commerce and e-learning are more prone to cyber attacks since they conduct most of their activities online and due to their lack of strong financial muscles, they have not invested a lot in cyber security.The following are among the severe consequences cybercrimes have on our online lives:
i) Damaging our personal reputation: People hack our social media accounts eg Facebook and Twitter and post nasty posts on our personal accounts.These posts may damage our reputation and put us in trouble with the law.Cybercrimes may also damage companies` reputation when hackers post negative posts on business social media pages and profiles.
ii) Companies lose assets: Banks accounts are hacked and money is stolen.The banks may not take responsibility money stolen through cyber attacks and therefore businesses loss a lot of working capital.Companies end up bankrupt and sell their assets to cover debts.Cyber attacks on companies may result to loss of customer data and financial data which is valuable asset.Companies may never heal from these losses.
iii) Businesses become dormant: Once data is lost during cyber-attacks, businesses such as e-commerce may close down since they depend on data for operation.This results in massive losses in revenue and jobs.
iv) Security costs: to protect their assets,companies have to incur costs of setting up software and laying cyber security foundation as well as hiring cyber security experts.
v) Identity theft: This is mainly done through phishing where users are sent emails with links to websites where users are asked to give personal information eg bank account numbers, passwords and other confidential details.This information might be used to steal money from bank account using wrong identities.
vi) Viruses: viruses are computer programs that are designed to destroy normal functioning of a computer.They are spread from one computer to another and can lead to loss of data and destroy computer systems.
HOW TO PROTECT OUR LIVES AND ORGANIZATIONS FROM CYBER CRIMES
Every day, we use the internet to shop, deposit and withdraw money, access social media and to get latest news on current global affairs.Technology has revolutionized everything including crime.Many crimes take place online.Money is “stolen” from bank accounts by hacking of banks` systems.We cannot avoid doing our businesses online so we need to protect ourselves and our organizations from cyber attacks using the following measures:
a) Install anti-virus software on our computers: this will protect our computers against any viruses, malware or software used to obtain or interfere with your computer data.
b) Hire a cyber security expert: hiring a security expert in our businesses will ensure safety since he can regularly check devices and detect any suspicious activity and counter it.As your business grows,it gets exposed to many cyber attacks,some of which can only be handled by an expert.
c) Use strong and unique passwords: more that 60% of cybercrimes are as a result of stolen passwords.Avoid using your names, dates of birth and other common figures as your passwords. Also update your passwords regularly.
d) Restrict access to confidential data: many cybercrimes are caused by access to our private data by unauthorized persons. This happens mostly in our businesses. Avoid sharing private business details with more people in your organization.
e) Create awareness among your employees: many cybercrimes are inside jobs.Our employees are being used to conduct cyber-attacks in our organizations.Ensure employees` devices are protected and they have secure passwords.
f) Don`t open emails and texts you don`t recognize: if an email looks weird or you don`t recognize the sender, avoid opening them.They may be phishing emails used to obtain our personal information.
h) Be careful about your social media activities: avoid over sharing,giving too much information and posting too much personal information on social media.This information may be used by hackers against you online life.
Cybercrime is not just a personal issue.It is a business issue as well as a national issues.That means governments are not safe.Terrorists can hack security departments and get confidential details which can be used to conducts terrorism attacks.During elections, servers can be hacked leading to election riging.Governments should invest in cyber security to prevent such actions which might be disastrous in the long run.
The best way to invest in cyber security is through education and research.This subject should be taught in schools so as to produce cyber security experts.Research should be done to stay up to date with new cyber trends.This will go a long way in securing our online lives.