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The internet is ingrained in our daily lives. On average, adults spend over 6 hours online each day, both for work and entertainment. The internet is generally a safe place, but it is important to be aware of the risks that come with using it, and knowing how to protect yourself from the biggest threats.
Malware and phishing scams
Viruses and cyber attacks have existed since the beginning of the internet. Adware, ransomware, spyware and other types of malware are used to keep files hostage, steal information and more. A report by PurpleSec shows that malware infections have been on the rise for the last ten years, reaching more than 812 million infections in 2018. The same report says that 18 million websites are infected by malware at any given moment, and 92% of malware is delivered by email.
In recent years, phishing has emerged as a major threat to online users. Phishing is an attack that attempts to steal the victim’s information by sending them a fake email or using a fake website that looks exactly like the real thing. For example, the victim may receive a fake email that appears to be sent from PayPal. If the user clicks on the link in the email and enters their login details on the fake website, the hackers behind the phishing scam can use the details to access the victim’s PayPal account. Phishing scams are becoming more sophisticated every year.
The Blackbaud breach is the latest hacking incident to reach the news. In May 2020, the software company was the victim of a major ransomware attack. Many organizations and charities use Blackbaud’s software, and bank account information, passwords and other information were feared stolen by the hackers. In the end, Blackbaud decided to pay an undisclosed ransom in order to receive confirmation that the stolen data had been destroyed.
How to stay safe on the internet
There are many ways to stay safe online. The first rule is to be cautious when browsing the internet. Don’t click on fishy emails or links (even if they appear to be sent from a friend or a company), and avoid websites that are not secured by SSL. The easiest way to check this is by looking for the padlock icon next to the address bar in your browser.
If you use the internet for shopping, banking, playing at online casinos or other services that require you to enter your payment details, it is important to stay extra vigilant. A safe online casino has a gaming license, is secured by SSL and offers trustworthy payment options such as Visa, Mastercard and e-wallets.
Other tips include creating a strong and unique password for every website you use, using a VPN, and ensuring that your software is up to date. You can avoid the majority of the risks that come with using the internet by keeping your guard up and using common sense.