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More Devices, More Hacking: Five Ways to Thwart Rise in Cyber Threats

The rising number of cyberattacks in the past year included a 92% increase in types of malware (hacking software) and a 600% increase in the number of attacks against IoT devices, according to the Internet Security Threat Report. 

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To help consumers and businesses protect their data and privacy, Matrix Integration, a strategic IT infrastructure partner for more than 1,000 businesses and schools in Indiana and beyond, is offering practical tips for October’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

“The number of cyberattacks keeps rising, including in Indiana, where we’ve seen criminals hack critical data and hold information for ransom,” said Nathan Stallings, president of Matrix Integration. “Hackers are more sophisticated and creative than ever, so the more people know about what to watch out for, the better they can protect themselves.”

Malware, ransomware, phishing scams and password attacks are all different means of gaining access to information and financial resources for criminals. Matrix Integration works with companies to create security plans that protect their most important and vulnerable data, as well as help everyone from IT leaders to front-line employees identify and protect their information from hackers.

In addition to company-and enterprise-wide security systems, everyone should know how hackers attack, and how to keep themselves from being an easy target.

Matrix Integration’s Top Five Tips for October’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

  1. Create strong, complex passwords. Cyber criminals want access to corporate information, account numbers and private data. People shouldn’t reuse the same passwords for different sites and devices. One easy option is to create a complex phrase. For example, instead of “Ilovedogs,” people should try “Ilovemydalmation.”
  2. Take a closer look at that email. One of the most common ways to hook a victim is through “phishing” – personalized emails that look like they are from a friend or colleague. Once a person clicks on a malicious link in that email, they could deploy malware or divulge sensitive information. Consumers should question everything and look closely at return addresses, scan for typos, and compare suspect emails to legitimate ones they have received in the past.
  3. Watch social activity. Cyber criminals are now targeting citizens through social media like Facebook and Twitter. Ads or personal messages encourage users to play games or click on links to photos, which could lead them to malware or other scams.
  4. Use public Wi-Fi with caution. Free Wi-Fi in public spaces is a major benefit to anyone who needs connectivity on the go. But some of these hotspots may be operated by cybercriminals who can easily steal the data users’ transmit while on their networks. People should not connect to wireless networks that aren’t recognized, especially those with “free” in the name or those defined as an “unsecured computer-to-computer network.”
  5. Take care with mobile apps. The majority of applications people download to their phones are perfectly safe. However, in the past year, cybercriminals have been developing more apps that contain malware and ransomware for individual phones. Symantec found that 99.9 percent of unsafe apps were hosted in third-party app stores, so to stay safe, consumers should keep their phones’ operating systems as updated as possible, and only download apps from primary app stores.For Hacks That Are Harder to DetectNo matter how cautious users are, hackers can still gain access to networks and systems. In addition to malware and ransomware, criminals still find ways to hijack passwords and steal information. For businesses and their employees, Matrix Integration collaborates with clients to identify the assets that are most important to them, come up with a plan to protect and detect those assets, and provide tools to discover and respond to attacks before they can cause damage. Types of solutions include robust identity management systems so passwords are harder to steal, data encryption software, and staff training.

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Daniel Lucani

PhD at MIT. Author of 8 patents and applications on network coding. Tech expert 12+ years experience.