Co Author: Taha Khalid
2016 was an interesting year, to say the least, when it comes to cyber security. Cyber-attacks set a record in 2016, with big names like Yahoo! LinkedIn, Tumblr, Ashley Madison, and Tesco all being successfully infiltrated. And according to most cyber security experts, cyber-attacks will get more dangerous and frequent in 2017.
Here are three cyber security trends to watch out for in 2017:
The Internet of Things (IoT)
By now, most of us have heard of IoT, but not many know what it actually is or does. To put it in layman's terms, it's a network of devices that can connect to the internet - from our smartphones, smart TVs to built-in automobile sensors and webcams. In other words, any object or device that can be given an IP address and has the ability to communicate with other devices and send data over a network.
As great as this technology sounds - since it eliminates the need for humans to enter and transfer data - it, however, has its shortcomings. IoT has witnessed significant malware attacks in recent months, including the infamous distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that took down a big portion of the internet last October.
According to most cyber security experts, IoT related attacks will increase in 2017. Since devices such as smartphones, webcams, and PCs are easier to hack, they'll be targeted more frequently. There are, however, ways to keep-out uninvited guests. The best way to go about protecting your PC (which usually comes with a webcam) is to install an efficient antivirus software. Some of the best antivirus software available in the market are:
• McAfee Antivirus Plus: A brand name in the industry, McAfee safeguards all of your Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS devices. It has received some excellent scores during lab testing and is exceptional when it comes to malicious URL blocking and antiphishing.
• Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus: This antivirus software is extremely powerful, light and fast. A couple of independent testing labs have rated Webroot as the best antivirus in the markets today, and most tech experts rate Webroot above all other antivirus utilities out there.
Ransomware started becoming a problem in 2014 and has only increased ever since. How it basically works is that a Ransomware makes its way into the victim's device and blocks access to a victim's data or encrypts data present on the device. To regain access to the block or encrypted data, a ransom has to be paid.
According to the IBM report, "Ransomware: How Consumers and Businesses Value Their Data," 4,000 ransomware related attacks took place per day in 2016, up four times from 2015. According to the FBI, victims of ransomware attacks paid around $209 million to recover their stolen data in just the first three months of 2016, up from $24 million companies paid in entire 2015, according to Reuters.
Since cyber criminals are minting money through ransomware, it's safe to say the trend isn't going anywhere in 2017. In fact, it's only going to increase. Security experts and authorities usually advice victims not to pay the ransom, as it will motivate cyber criminals to increase their illegal activities. Also, there's no guarantee that the victim will regain access to their stolen or encrypted data after the ransom is paid. So, the best way to protect yourself from ransomware is to install an efficient anti-virus software (mentioned above) on your PC. For a smartphone, users should stall install an efficient VPN service.
Best VPN Extension for Chrome
As cyber criminals are increasing their illicit actives with sophisticated cyber-attacks, people are slowly catching up and becoming more aware of how to protect themselves. Moreover, the revelations made by Edward Snowden regarding government agencies ease dropping on phone calls and intercepting emails and texts, the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and VPN extensions on Google Chrome browser will only increase in 2017.
For the uninitiated, a VPN is a network connection that enables a user to safely access a private network and share data remotely through public networks. In other words, it's very similar to a firewall, which protects a user's data on their device while a VPN protects your data on the internet.
It basically hides the websites you visit from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), which stores your browsing history and online activities. It also encrypts the data you receive and send over the internet, protecting you from hackers and government agencies alike. Most experts agree that a VPN is the safest way to go about protecting your online privacy, activities, data, financial transactions and so on.
While there are hundreds of VPN extensions available on Chrome, from big names like ZenMate and Hotspot Shield, only one stands out from the pack - PureVPN extension. PureVPN is the best VPN extension for Chrome as it's the only service that offers useful features like:
• Ad-Blocker: This feature is extremely useful for those users who get annoyed by ads popping up on their screens.
• Malware Protection: This feature can protect a user from viruses. It also eliminates the need to purchase and install an antivirus software on your PC separately. It's like killing two birds with one stone, a win-win.
• Tracker Blocking: This is an extremely handful feature to have around. With this feature, you'll never have to worry about being monitored by third-party agencies. Be it intelligence agencies or marketing agencies that monitor your Google searches and browsing habits to present you with the most relevant ads according to your needs.
Humans in the 21st century have come to rely heavily on technology for their everyday tasks. While technologies like smartphones, PCs, and the internet have had a positive effect on our daily lives, there are downsides to it. It leaves our data and privacy vulnerable to hackers and third-party agencies. However, all is not lost as there are plenty of ways to protect ourselves from malicious actives. And as cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, so will the technology that protects us from such illicit activities.