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Cybersafe July 14, 2019

A Guide to Cybersecurity Threats

SECURITY – when most people think of this word, they might first think of protecting themselves from harm or ensuring that their houses, cars, and other possessions are safe.


Rarely do people first consider their cybersecurity, or how they care for themselves and their data online. This means most people are vulnerable to different cybersecurity threats.


Breach Level Index, a website tracking publicly disclosed breaches, records over almost 15 billion data records lost or stolen since 2013. In 2018 alone, there were at least 21 companies who suffered major breaches, leaving millions of users’ data compromised. Among these companies affected by cyber attacks were social networking sites Facebook and Google+.


(If you want to check if your email has ever been hacked or compromised,  visit https://haveibeenpwned.com/)


Cyber attacks are attacks done against us within cyberspace or simply put, on our digital devices. The most familiar cyber threat to us would be hacking. As defined by Malwarebytes, hacking is the overarching term used to describe any activity that compromises digital devices, such as computers, smartphones, and even entire networks.


Another form of a cyber attack would be phishing – where malicious links are made to look trustworthy in order to bait a potential victim. Once clicked, sensitive personal information such as passwords or even credit card numbers can be stolen by the phisher. A levelled-up form of phishing is called malware, where a victim downloads software that outwardly looks legitimate, but has malicious intentions to damage the computer software through viruses, spyware, or ransomware, to name a few.


Ransomware, in particular, keeps data hostaged. It can lock a system down and encrypt it, so nothing can be used. It can only be unlocked once ransom is paid, but whether or not the system actually gets unlocked is not guaranteed.


Experts agree that one major upcoming cyber threat would involve the Internet of Things. Interconnected technology (from wearable smartwatches to digital assistants stationed at home) that have been woven into daily life will become vulnerable to algorithm manipulation – which can lead to hijacking, data leaks, or even home intrusion.


These problems only begin to scratch the surface of the damage that can be done in cyberspace, and hackers are only getting more creative. It is then crucial to be vigilant in protecting one’s personal data online.


This article is part of the Banker’s Association of the Philippines’ (BAP) #CyberSafe campaign, where the BAP aims to promote awareness towards cybersecurity. As part of the campaign, new posts will be uploaded every Wednesday and Sunday, tackling common web security questions and issues.

For more information about phishing and malware, please visit these links: Phishing 101 and Malware 101.