Everything that offers a lot of benefits also comes with liabilities and this is certainly the case with the Internet. So as we enjoy the many benefits of the Internet, we need to also be aware of and where possible protect ourselves from its liabilities. Here are some prime areas of concern that threaten to cause harm to your reputation and wallet.
Online Reputation Attacks
The pervasiveness of the Internet has been a boon for many industries and groups around the world. A more connected world means that we can all learn more via experience sharing, and we can collectively attack problems that typically baffle groups with limited resources and reach.
The connectedness has also however created an environment where information can flow unabated before it has been vetted. This often results in reputations getting tarnished or destroyed on the Internet resulting in great harm being done to individuals in terms of their standing and livelihoods. The perpetrators are a variety of types: some are angry or jealous, others might feel they have been wronged by the target, and others might be looking to extort the target.
In any case, there is a large and growing need for those concerned about these types of attacks to hire online reputation management companies to protect and repair their reputations. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to completely stop the attacks or to have the offending information completely removed. There are however techniques to lessen its impact and prevent its spread. These techniques are most effective if put in place before an attack.
Businesses are progressively embracing cloud storage store their data. The key reasons are: cloud storage solutions eliminate the need to incur the costs associated with storing all their information in physical data centers. As businesses continue to move more of our critical data to the cloud, they also open the data up to new and serious vulnerabilities that can be exploited by those with nefarious aims. And that data will attract more and more hackers and rogue employees even, seeking to steal that data and mine it for money.
Yes, cloud companies have the most policed set of servers this side of the Pentagon, but even the Pentagon has been hacked. There have been many attacks on these servers already with some definitely causing breaches but the industry is very tight lipped about hacks and security procedures to combat them. But rest assured we will be hearing relatively soon about hundreds of millions of customer accounts being compromised as it sat on a cloud storage company’s servers.
Malware and Phishing
Phishing is the attempt to illegally obtain critical information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Malware, short for malicious software, is any software used to disrupt computer or mobile operations, gather sensitive information, gain access to private computer systems, or display unwanted advertising. Since nearly the beginning of the Internet there have been cases of malware and phishing schemes running amok on computer systems.
Even though these two are the most common and basic security threats they continue because they are easy to launch and effective. They used to be easy to detect but perpetrators have gotten more sophisticated by sending emails from sources we know with links included that take us to an unwanted destination allowing our sensitive information to be lifted from our devices. All the while we are oblivious to the attack and only become aware when we get a call from our credit card company regarding what they believe is an unauthorized use of our card on some far away island. The best line of defense is to have anyone sending you mail with a link to tell you in advance so if something comes you never open it. And to only allow software to be downloaded onto your computer from trusted sources (although this is not foolproof since they just found dozens of instances of fake software in the Android App store).
Ransomware is computer malware that installs covertly on a victim’s device (e.g., computer, smartphone, wearable device) and that locks the victim’s computer data and holds the data hostage for a ransom. Simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse. More advanced malware encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. The majority of these attacks have happened through the Skype program but are popping up on other programs as weel and even mobile programs. It sounds crazy, and it is, but it is also real, and it’s happening more often than you may realize.