As technology continually advances, so too do threats to our cybersecurity. The U.S. government defines cyberattacks as “malicious attempts to access or damage a computer or network system.” Such attacks can leave users without money, personal account access, medical and financial information, and even their identity altogether.
This article outlines how you can protect yourself from cyberattacks by taking preventative measures to safeguard against potential cyberattacks and, if you fall under attack, following proactive protocol during and after cyberattacks.
Preventative Measures for Cyberattacks
There are numerous preventative measures you can take to reduce your likelihood of a cyberattack. To start, you should routinely update your device’s software and operating system, and you should install malware and antivirus scanners on every device. You should back up any sensitive information you save on your device to an encrypted file or external device.
You should also continually check your bank accounts, bills, and credit reports to ensure no irregular activity. All passwords for important accounts, including access to your phone, tablet, or computer, should either change regularly or be fingerprint or facial recognition passwords. You can also use a password managing app that creates and manages passwords and requires two different login methods to enter an account.
Internet network protection involves:
- Requiring passwords to use your personal Wi-Fi network.
- Using a secure or encrypted internet connection for transactions or communication on external networks.
- Prohibiting sites or services from knowing your location.
Text messages, emails, and social media messages from strangers or friends asking for personal information or alleged security codes, providing links to “business schemes” or videos they claim you appear in are all red flags that should heighten your suspicions for cyberattacks.
What to Do During a Cyberattack
Unfortunately, despite taking all preventative measures, sometimes cyberattacks still occur. If you fall victim to a cyberattack, you should first call your bank, lender, or medical provider to report identity theft or account breaches. While you are speaking with the financial, medical, or governmental institutions, you should simultaneously check their respective accounts for charges or other activities you did not authorize.
You should ask banks or other financial institutions to freeze your accounts immediately or cancel credit or debit cards. You should also change all passwords for bank accounts, social media accounts, and access to your device or network. You may want to disconnect your device from the internet, turn off your router, or power off your device altogether to initiate a system restore.
You can run a malware security scan, but we recommend taking an infected or hacked device to a professional who can do a more in-depth analysis and fix any virus or cyberattack damages.
What to Do After a Cyberattack
After a cyberattack, you should alert friends and family members of your network or frequent contact lists. You should also alert governmental security agencies depending on the type of cyberattack in question. The U.S. government provides a list of resources on agencies to contact and file a cyberattack report.