Helping you balance your online life

Oct 23rd


New Report Warns of Increasing Cyberthreats

As cybersecurity advances and better protects our computers from harmful threats, those threats are also advancing, becoming more harmful and difficult to detect. The newest McAfee Labs Threats Report, released in August 2014, details recent data surrounding threat research, threat intelligence and cybersecurity. The report offers a clear view of the dangers associated with browsing, banking and shopping online, so we can all take steps to protect ourselves and keep our information secure.

computer security

Malware and phishing attacks are on the rise. Malware, or malicious software, can gather sensitive information or gain access to private computer systems. McAfee Labs detects 240 new malware threats every minute. They also note that mobile malware increased by 17 percent in the second quarter of the year, reinforcing the importance of keeping our mobile devices secure.

Phishing takes the form of an email or message pretending to be from a trustworthy entity, usually linking to a website luring people to enter sensitive information. Phishing attacks have also increased; almost a million new phishing sites were created in the past year, according to McAfee's report. Not only has the number increased but the attacks seem to be getting more sophisticated. Digital media, especially social media, has made it easier for hackers and phishers to research and understand their targets-their work, interests and passions-and to trick people into clicking through harmful links in emails.

What should the average person take from McAfee's Threats Report? Mainly the importance of keeping your information and identity secure while using the web. Protect yourself in advance and save the time and cost of being hacked.

Experts recommend not clicking on links or attachments in any unsolicited emails. Amazon, UPS, PayPal, eBay, Bank of America and HSBC are the brands most mimicked by phishing sites. Unsure of whether or not the email is a threat? Call the company that supposedly sent it and talk with a customer service representative about the content of the email.

If you do open an unsolicited email, here are some safe steps you can take:
  • Open a new browser and visit the website that supposedly sent the email; check to see if it's promoting the same offer that has been sent to you.
  • Mouse over the link in the email and look at the lower left corner of the screen to see if the domain name matches the company supposedly sending the email.
  • If you must click on the link, once it's open it should still show the same domain name. If it doesn't, and it asks you for financial information like a bank account number or social security number, do not provide the information. If the opened link now has a different domain name, even if it's not requesting financial information, the identity thief may have opted to infect your computer with a virus.
There are a number of security options available to keep your information safe while shopping, banking or surfing the web. Keep your security software up to date-a crucial part of arming yourself against cybercrime. Antivirus software like McAfee and Norton will fight provide a secure base for your computer to fight against most viruses. DataMask can add extra protection by disguising your data so that hackers can't read it. Don't let the increase in threats take away your freedom to surf the web, just make safe decisions while browsing.