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Cybersecurity: Are We Safe?

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2017 has ushered in an unprecedented era of digitally centric life, where computers and the internet have become an absolutely essential aspect of our daily lives. While this technology age has made our lives inherently easier and more connected, it has also brought upon us a time where we are faced with the danger of cyber terrorism. Cybersecurity, the act of taking preventive measures to defend against hackers, has become an absolute necessity for corporations, governments, and any organization that is responsible for large amounts of personal data from people.

In 2017 alone, there have been multiple attacks against the digital infrastructure of major corporations and government entities. In April of this year, a group known as the Shadow Brokers hacked the NSA, the elite cyber security agency of the United States, and released certain tools that allowed people to exploit Windows operating systems. Known as “EternalBlue”, this program has been used by hacking groups to propagate high-profile attacks across the country.

Another program by the name of “WannaCry” was used by an unknown hacking group to infect thousands of targets, which included utilities, public hospitals, and multi-national corporations. The program caused chaos at health care centers, and even temporarily disabling the National Health Service in the U.K., resulting in delayed surgeries and heavily backed-up emergency rooms. The criminals responsible for this attack demanded a ransom payment in return for the program that would neutralize the computer virus. In the end, after a high amount of destruction, the program was patched by Microsoft.

These are just a few examples of the destruction that can be caused by hacking groups. This begs the question of whether we are safe from such attacks. What needs to be understood is that the average person won’t be a first-hand victim of a cyberattack. The first victim of a cyberattack would most likely be an organization that is the holder of important data, or the provider of an essential service. This would would include major corporations and government. However, there are some steps you should take to keep yourself safe from a cyberattack.

Staying up-to-date on current news will keep you aware of any data breaches or cyberattacks. If you’re the kind of person to have the same password for all your accounts, then you’ll want to change your habits as soon as possible. Using a password manager app can help you keep all your passwords protected in one place, and still allow you to use strong passwords for all your online accounts. Always be wary of emails that look odd or out of place. Hackers are known to utilize emails that look like they are from a reputable source like Google or a bank, it in reality they will inject malware into your computer the moment you open them. If you often use public wifi networks like the ones offered at airports or coffee shops, be careful what personal data you send over these networks. As we continue along, our lives will only become increasingly connected with computer and the digital world, so staying vigilant and aware of the dangers of cyberattacks will help us stay safe.

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind, I’m always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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