The three biggest security threats heading into 2017

12517securitythreats640The recent data breach at Yahoo reminds us that 2016 was a year full of cyber threats, and no one – from individual users to the second-largest health insurer in the U.S. – is immune.

According to the security company Kaspersky, 34.2 percent of computer users experienced at least one web attack in 2015. More than 750,000 computers were infected with ransomware, with a steady increase every quarter.

So, what can we expect in 2017? More of the same, unfortunately. Below is a list of cyber threats that will follow us into the new year, as well as tips on what you can do to protect data.

Data breaches

Data breaches expose the financial, medical and other sensitive information of millions annually. Breaches can be intentional or accidental, but both can leave the victims vulnerable to phishing and other scams.

  • Best defense: There are a couple of effective consumer security systems worth considering to help protect your financial information:
    • The latest credit and debit cards with embedded EMV chips can be used at most point-of-sale terminals.
    • Mobile payment systems, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and a slew of others, offer superior security protections.
Ransomware

Ransomware encrypts your files so you can’t open them without paying a ransom. It takes only a single employee clicking a phishing link to bring down an entire company. Tablets and smartphones are also at risk from malicious texts, emails or applications.

  • Best defense: Ransomware requires someone to install it, so the best defense is to follow information security best practices, i.e., avoid links in emails from unknown sources.
Malvertising

Refers to malicious software, or malware, hidden in online advertisements, such as animated ads, banners or pop-ups. Some require a user to click on the ad to activate the malware, while simply having an ad appear in your browser is sometimes all it takes to become infected.

  • Best defense – Awareness and general caution are the best ways to protect yourself:
    • Don’t click onto web-based pop-up boxes, even if they display alarming messages about your computer
    • Make sure your own virus protection software is in place and up-to-date
    • Never give out your personal information when surfing the web, unless you know exactly where it’s going
Be vigilant!

One certainty beyond death and taxes – hackers will continue to probe for weaknesses in hardware, software and networks. Be vigilant!