Using a computer system, device or any machine with an operating system that stores sensitive data without the proper cybersecurity tools watching your back can undoubtedly result in the complete compromise of that system. Such is the state of the connected realm nowadays. This is why it has become practically obligatory to ensure that you have these tools installed, and especially the correct and verified ones at that. A cyber breach can have devastating consequences, and especially when it comes to modern-day cybercrime it is the primary priority of governments all over the world to curb cybercrime. The most common mistake is thinking that it cannot happen to you, but simply entering your email addresses for a quick check on websites such as haveibeenpwned.com will most likely show you otherwise. You can also perform a slightly more in-depth scan on a website such as dehashed.com for a wider range of information and possible search queries relating to whether your personal information has been hacked in the past.
Since we live in 2021, almost all data and transactions out there that are critical to our daily lives have been digitized. As the world moves to innovative new standards and technologies, the requirement that everything is connected is now set in stone. This also pertains to our habits and how we are now used to storing our data on our computers, smartphones, and other devices without much afterthought. The issue is that all of these devices are susceptible to data breaches and remember, cybercriminals have no mercy. At least 40% of businesses report data breaches every year, the cost of which can be millions of dollars for a single breach. By 2025, the annual cost of financial damages incurred by cybercrime such as phishing and ransomware is estimated to exceed $10 trillion. Annual reports coming from cybersecurity tool vendors such as antivirus and antimalware makers reveal that increasingly sophisticated malicious tools are being detected, especially those of the polymorphic type (with the ability to mutate and escape detection.) Statistics also indicate that cybercriminal extortion and blackmail have resulted in a peaking of ransom payments since 2020.
With these worrying findings in mind, it is time to take cybersecurity into our hands to avoid our data being stolen, corrupted, or compromised and, ultimately, to protect our safety and the safety of our families and friends from cyber threats.
What Types of Cyber Threats Are There Out There?
There are countless types of cyber threats out there, that vary in design and purpose e.g. which attack surface they are directed at and via which attack vector/method they will be orchestrated. Some of the most common cyber threats that both organizations and the common citizen can fall victim to include;
- DDoS attacks
- MiTM Attacks
Cyber threats can cause many frightful scenarios with varying degrees of severity, from website downtime, data that is taken for ransom, to the destruction of sensitive data which can easily result in the erasure of a company. Cybercrime is even strong enough to bring the world’s most cutting-edge government defense to its knees. As more and more data is online, the opportunity for cybercriminals grows exponentially.
What Are Cybersecurity Tools?
Cybersecurity is a sector dedicated to the protection (security) of data and systems (cyber) from cyber threats (hackers and other threats.) Vendors that work in this sector offer familiar products and services that are indispensable to all of us, like; antivirus software, antimalware software, anonymization solutions, password protection, and on a greater and more modern scale complete managed security solutions. Cybersecurity for home use differs greatly in scope from enterprise cybersecurity which protects much larger systems and enormous amounts of data, but in essence, the purpose is the same.
Which Cybersecurity Tools Are Indispensable For The Home User?
There are several types of cybersecurity tools and solutions that you should be making use of daily if you value the security, integrity, and stability of your data (not to mention your personal safety.) A lot of these tools have already been available for more than a decade, but some have recently been popularized due to increasing digital safety demands from the economy. The most important ones to keep account of are;
- Antivirus software
- Antimalware software
- Virtual Private Networks
- Encrypted Password Managers
- Specialized Firewalls
- Security and privacy-focused web browsers
Including the batch of cybersecurity tools above on your devices (laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other), as well as knowing how to use them, will give you a satisfactory entry-level security blanket from most modern cyber threats. Here is why you need them;
- An antivirus software serves to protect your devices from classical harmful viruses, as well as prevent them from infecting your devices
- Like antivirus software, antimalware programs focus on scanning, identifying, and removing malicious software but refer to a different library of threats
- A Virtual Private Network is a network anonymization tool that can cloak your physical location by modifying your IP address and encrypting your connection from all sides
- A password manager is a unified solution where you can keep all of your passwords under lock and key
- A specialized firewall is more advanced than default firewalls and offers more security features
- Specialized web browsers will reduce fingerprinting, ads, tracking and also are designed under better ethical and moral standards than mainstream browsers
Nobody wants their personal security compromised via an email phishing scheme, their data taken for ransom by advanced cybercriminals, their systems riddled with destabilizing malware, or their business websites compromised by brute force attacks. For this reason, it is important to have a basic level of security and an understanding of the usage of cybersecurity tools. The cherry on top would be an additional level of security via common-sense information security best practices, such as; using long and unique passwords for each account or service (and keeping them private), avoiding unsecured websites, avoiding public wifi, practicing offline data backups, and avoiding interaction with emails from suspicious or unknown senders.