Keeping your online presence and your devices safe is important; this much is clear even if you aren’t a cybersecurity expert. You don’t want your devices to be slow, your private information to become public, and your vital data to be lost. However, your fear of cyberattacks is probably more instinctive than rational. You’re right to be afraid. Here’s why.
1. Loss of trade and personal secrets
Just try to imagine a scenario where someone gets access to all your correspondences. Everything you talk about with your partners, everything you talk about with your friends. Even the tiniest piece of gossip leaving this chat can ruin your reputation, so what would happen if someone malicious got a hold of it?
First of all, they could deliberately leak it in order to ruin your reputation. Some people are just so malicious that they’re willing to hurt others without any personal gain. What kind of person would do something like that, you ask? Well, a person who tries to crack someone else’s password, infects their devices with a virus or installs a keylogger on their phone.
More likely, however, they would blackmail you over it. The worst part is that they have so much leverage that you have no other option than to pay up, and even then, you have no idea if they’ll honor their end of the deal. After you pay, they might still release it. Why? Well, because they believe that they can get away with it. Think about it: you’re relying on the good faith of such a person.
The catastrophe doesn’t even have to happen. Just the thought that something like this could happen to your data can be more than unsettling. Fortunately, this is avoidable as long as you take your cybersecurity seriously.
2. Compromised identity
Another big problem comes from the fact that your identity may be compromised. If someone has your password and accesses your platform, they are you in the eyes of the people and brands they interact with.
Sure, some platforms have great account takeover detection, but you can’t rely on external factors to keep you safe. Instead, you need to do what you can to keep yourself safe. Be careful when using public networks, develop strong passwords, and pick the best antivirus, like one of those featured on Techopedia’s guide to keep your devices safe.
Remember that it won’t always be an account takeover that gets you. Sometimes, a hacker will steal parts of your identity to impersonate you, making it incredibly hard to detect. Sure, they can always take your picture from your social media or any other online platform, but this is just the surface level. Imagine what they can do with your SSN or your card number. While no one would openly share these, it might be good to be extra careful what you share online.
Lastly, you don’t want people online to know who you are, where you live, where your kids go to school, and which bank you keep your money with. Online grudges have sometimes resulted in doxing and, on occasion, even had fatal outcomes. Stay safe!
3. Loss of material value
Previously, we’ve discussed how someone can get your sensitive chats and emails and blackmail you. This is one way to lose money by not protecting yourself in the digital world, but it’s, sadly, not the only one.
If you run an online business or work online, a compromised device or network may cause you downtime. DDoS attacks are particularly vicious and cost businesses thousands and millions of dollars. Even if they just prevent you from doing your job for 24 hours, it will still result in a loss of income, reputation, and, for an organization, cost you some major opportunities.
Next, someone hacking your bank account, accessing your crypto wallet, or even finding your credit card information (that you’ve saved in digital format) can cost you a fortune. More and more people are paying online and keeping their assets in digital formats. Since more and more people keep their assets in digital format and enterprises are adopting crypto, this becomes even more important. This is the traditional fraud and theft, the default fear in this field.
For a business, there are also regulatory fines and legal costs that you’ll face for failing to protect the data of your customers, employees, or partners.
Either way, you stand to lose a lot of money, and the worst part is that most of this could have been preventable.
4. Slower devices
Every program currently running on your device uses some of your computing power. Before you ask, viruses and malware are programs and hungry ones. You see, a virus-infested device will consume far more CPU power and memory than you can imagine. This will be easily noticeable even on the most powerful of devices.
Outdated software can also make your device substantially slower. Coincidentally, outdated software is one of the main traits compromising your device from a cybersecurity standpoint. Antiviruses and other software must be up-to-date to provide optimal protection. Failure to do so will slow down your devices.
Besides slowing down your device, these viruses may also use your network. This means your network usage will increase, and the overall network speed will further slow down.
It’s also important to mention the issue of ransomware. You see, even though they don’t necessarily slow down your device, they put some of your data behind a lock until you pay to get the key. This means that the functionality of your device is incredibly restricted, which limits your use drastically.
5. Loss of data
Previously, we’ve mentioned ransomware, where a hacker encrypts your data in order to restrict your access. While, technically, the data is still there, you don’t have access to it. This means that it’s as good as lost.
Another thing to keep in mind is unauthorized access, where a hacker may delete files or alter them so that they’re corrupted or unusable. This can happen to any file you own and could cause a huge problem.
Some data is only valuable when kept secret. Stealing and publishing this data could ruin it or make it invalid. Just think about all the leaks and how they affect the original plans and documents.
Phishing attacks may force you to give out your own sensitive information, like typing your password into a false screen. The thing is that when this happens, a huge portion of your online presence will be endangered or compromised.
Lastly, this may not be the end of all your troubles since the hacker may leave a backdoor, which means that they can repeat the attack at any given moment.
Poor cybersecurity is a huge problem from every angle
As you can see, almost every problem we’ve mentioned has multiple layers. A virus will not only corrupt your data, it will also slow down your device. Ransomware will not just restrict access to your data; it will also cause you significant stress and cost you dearly. In other words, having malware, ransomware, or a virus on your device is a scenario you want to avoid, the same as staying safe from hackers and their influence. Improving your online safety needs to be your first priority.