Keeping you and your information safe from scammers and cyberbullies
Picture this: you’ve been up all night working on an assignment that’s due the following day. You're finally finished and want to submit it in the morning because you’d like to go through it one last time with fresh eyes. The next morning, you wake up, turn on your computer and find you’ve been the victim of a cyber-attack and you’ve lost all your files, including the assignment you’ve spent hours working on.
The sad truth is that students have always been prime targets of cyber-attacks, even during pre-COVID times, when they often came in the form of cyberbullying. While the reliance on remote learning during the pandemic has made cyber-attacks more apparent, students should be vigilant and take steps to ensure they’re protecting themselves, their work and their data.
What is a cyber-attack?
Cyber-attacks happen when someone attempts to breach or gain illegal access to an individual or an organisation’s system or information. This information can then be used to expose, alter or steal from the victim.
What can hackers do with your information?
By accessing your information, cyber-criminals can log into your bank accounts, use your identity to apply for credit or make online purchases using your PayPal account or credit card. They can also access your social media accounts and use your photos and information.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying done using digital technology. Because technology is such a central part of young people’s lives, cyberbullying can happen at any time – even to people who have never met the perpetrator and have no social connection with them. Hackers can access their victim’s private files and conversations and share them with a wide audience almost instantly. Once it’s out there, it’s very difficult to delete it permanently.
6 ways to cyber-protect yourself
While it’s a scary thought that someone unknown to you can access your information or delete your important files, there are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Back up your files
Always keep a backup of your files and make sure you store them somewhere safe online or offline – be it in a cloud system or an external drive. Ideally, do both. This ensures that if your computer is hit with a virus, you still have access to your files.
Cover your webcam
Hackers can access computers and record people while they’re using their webcam. Turn off or block your cameras and microphones when you’re not using them. Also, make sure that personal information is not in the camera’s view.
Watch out for phishing scams
Phishing email scams are the most common way for cyber-criminals to gain illegal access to information. These emails can look very real, with some including the branding and logos of legitimate organisations.
For example, a hacker may email you saying that they’ve found information about you on a website. You start panicking, so you click on the link in the email, and – just like that – they’ve gained access to your confidential information and contact list.
Here are some things to look out for to identify a phishing email:
The email is sent from a public domain (e.g. gmail.com), or one that looks legitimate, but is spelt incorrectly
Poorly written content
Suspicious attachments or links
The message creates a sense of urgency.
Practice good password management
The easiest way to protect your data and increase your security is to choose a good password. It’s easy to get into the habit of using the same password for all your accounts and choosing an easy one to remember. After all, who wants to remember a password with different numbers and characters? Make sure you’re creating a password that’s strong, unique and difficult to guess.
It’s also good practice to regularly update your password. And, where possible, invest in two-factor authentication. An example of this is where you receive a confirmation message to your mobile phone when logging into an account.
Let someone know if you’re being cyberbullied
If you're a victim of cyberbullying, let someone know. Some platforms allow you to report cyberbullying directly with the company, so be sure to use that function. Depending on the severity of the bullying, you may need to let the police know.
Invest in cyber insurance
To address the increase in cyber-attacks, insurance companies have started including cyber protection products to cover personal, business and household cyber.
Beneficial Insurance, which is 100% New Zealand owned and operated, has launched CyberProtect, which provides personal cover for cyberbullying, cyber fraud, restoration costs, cyber extortion and identity theft.
They will also monitor the web for personal information breaches and reimburse the cost of your device for any damages caused by a cyber-attack. Consider investing in cyber insurance as an extra layer of protection.
Unfortunately, cyber-attacks can't be eliminated completely. By taking the steps listed above, you can reduce the risk of being a target for hackers, cyber-criminals and cyber-bullies.
From the 2019 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report
3million New Zealanders have been a victim of cybercrime in 2019
59% of New Zealanders have experienced a cyber crime
30% of New Zealanders have lost money as a result of cyber crime
67% of New Zealanders have no idea what to do if their identity was stolen
For as little as $10 per month, CyberProtect will give you peace of mind with access to the following:
24/7 and 365 days a year unlimited access to our helpdesk of cyber experts
Cyber Disruption Certificate, CyberProtect will provide professional evidence that your device was cyber attacked
For cyberbullying, CyberProtect will give you access to our professional counsellor team
CyberProtect will cover you up to $3,000 for costs relating to financial loss, identity theft and device restoration from a cyber attack
Like the sound of this new product and want to be in to win one of three iPads - visit the CyberProtect website and register your interest and you will be in to win and the CyberProtect team will let you know if you have won also when the product launches in the future.