Cyberattacks are expected to cause $6 trillion in damages in 2021. They have already become the fastest-growing type of crime worldwide.

Every device connected to the internet can pose risks. But with vigilance, good security practices and an encrypted connection, you can stay safe.

Here are the key cybersecurity risks and how to defend against them:

1. Phishing Threats Across Platforms and Devices

Phishing attacks involving malicious emails, messages, or links continue to be the most common type of cyberattacks. Phishing attacks try to trick recipients into providing sensitive information or installing malicious software or apps, including ransomware.

Cybercriminals now use creative approaches to deliver geo-targeted, personalized phishing attacks. For example, they may email you that your bank account has been put on hold. They may then direct you to a mock web page and request you to type your “old password.”

Because phishing emails and messages pass email security filters, vigilance is crucial. Avoid clicking suspicious links, always check target URLs, and beware of offers that are too good to be true.

Also important is to safeguard personal data such as phone numbers, email, or physical addresses as much as possible. You don’t want them to be easily available on the internet.

2. Double Extortion Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks are often carried out through phishing emails but can be attempted through other channels as well. Unsafe mobile apps, bogus websites, and desktop software are common avenues.

Ransomware locks your data, preventing access to it in return for a ransom payment. In double extortion ransomware, hackers ask for an additional payment or threaten to release the data online.

Encrypting your internet connection with a VPN and using real-time threat protection can reduce the risk of ransomware. You also want to avoid websites, apps, and links that come from untrustworthy sources.

3. Reusing Passwords Across Accounts and Devices

Unified accounts across devices are increasingly common, but with them come risks. Also, many mobile apps require a login. This increases the number of accounts and passwords you have to manage. Passwords are responsible in one way or other for over 80% of data breaches.

Many people even incorporate their birthday in their passwords. 24% of respondents use weak passwords, including generic phrases (“Admin”) or simple number sequences (“12345678”).

Passwordless authentication is a major cybersecurity trend, with the FIDO Alliance providing biometric and token authentication. These bypass the need for password logins. Even so, passwords are likely to stay around, which makes a password manager useful to have.

Using a password manager can reduce the risks associated with password reuse and the loss of personal data. Some password managers such as NordPass use OCR scanning to save your credit card data so that you don’t have to reach your wallets for paying bills online. Whether we’re talking about personal security or corporate security, it can save you time too. Using one means you don’t have to remember individual passwords all the time.

4. Remote Work Attacks

With many employees now working remotely, concerns about remote security are more pressing than in previous years. Major vulnerabilities have been found in remote desktop software, including Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol, TeamViewer, VNC, and Netop.

Brute force attacks in which hackers attempt to guess the password of a remote account have been on the rise.

At the same time, cybercriminals are using phishing and other types of scams to target business email accounts. In 2020, these scams caused losses of more than $1.8 billion, according to an FBI report.

If you work remotely, you want to watch out for scams. Just as important is to use when possible remote access software without documented vulnerabilities.

5. Mobile Ecommerce Data Theft and Fraud

During the COVID pandemic, ecommerce has become the go-to channel for many shoppers around the world. Hackers have taken advantage of this using data theft, fraudulent transactions, and other attacks.

According to a Juniper Research report, online payment fraud will cost ecommerce merchants at least $25 billion every year by 2024.

To reduce risks when shopping online, buy from trusted stores that provide encryption. Always check for the encrypted sign in your browser’s URL bar. Also, use unique, complex passwords for each store and set up two-factor authentication.

6. Cloud Security And Network Vulnerabilities

Online storage services, software-as-a-service, and social media are just some examples of apps or services running in the cloud. The cloud has become part of everyday life for most of us. But not all cloud services provide secure authentication and encryption.

Misconfiguration, network vulnerabilities or intrusions, and data leaks are leading causes of cloud security incidents. Choosing only reliable, secure cloud providers is crucial. So is using safe passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and ensuring only devices you actually use have cloud access. When more devices and users have access to a shared cloud account, security risks increase.

7. Internet of Things (IoT) Vulnerabilities Across Devices

In a world where increasingly more devices are connected to the internet, router security is important. Infected routers were responsible for 75% of IoT attacks in 2019. What’s more, most IoT devices are prone to security vulnerabilities.

Every new IoT device you add to your home or workspace can pose a risk. From baby cameras to phone-controlled smart appliances, these can invite cyberattacks. DoS attacks and device hijacking are especially dangerous.

Encrypting your internet connection before other devices connect to it and masking your IP address can deter IoT attacks.

The Bottom Line

While there are plenty of cybersecurity challenges in 2022, there’s a lot you can do to stay safe online. Good cybersecurity hygiene and encrypting your internet connection can make a big difference.

It’s also crucial to remain vigilant and not put yourself in situations that make you vulnerable to attacks. Browse safe websites and ignore doubtful emails and apps. This way, you’ll make it harder for hackers to target you.