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People use laptops every day to carry out their personal tasks, run their businesses or just for pure entertainment reasons. The combination of portability and computing power a laptop provides makes it an indispensable device to a lot of people.
However, in using a laptop, security is not always a top concern. People usually consider anti-virus software as an inconvenient tool that hinders productivity. This is often because of a lack of understanding that every laptop is vulnerable to cyber-attacks which can be damaging not only to big-time corporations, but even to an average individual as well.
Here are some shocking statistics that prove just how important it is to prioritise laptop security.
Malware is one of the most common terms associated with cybercrime, however, most people don’t exactly know what it is.
Malware is short for “malicious software” which is considered as a harmful computer program or application intended to secretly access a device without the user’s knowledge. Types of malware include viruses, adware, spyware, phishing, Trojan horses, worms, rootkits, and ransomware.
According to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 92.4% of malware sneak into a device like laptops and PCs through email. Although other sources such as sites from the internet are also malware culprits.
If a laptop is not protected with an anti-malware program, chances are the laptop device is vulnerable once an email link is clicked. The dangerous thing is that once a malware is in, it becomes easier for it to invite other malware to cause further damage.
With email being the foremost delivery vehicle of malware, just how many emails are infected? The Symantec 2018 Internet Security Threat Report estimate one (1) in every 131 emails contain a malware.
This rate is reported to be at its highest in about five years, and is further expected to increase. This is because more hackers attempt to utilise different types of malware such as ransomware to generate money from unsuspecting people.
It is not unusual to receive clickbait emails that are too hard to resist. Email subject lines that promise huge financial rewards, beg for emotional mercy or are too shocking not to open are the most common perpetrators.
What is more shocking though is that two studies have found that 78% of people still click on these emails even if they are already aware of the risks of unknown links. These two separate studies were conducted at Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany by Dr. Zinaida Benenson.
The stats which were presented at a Black Hat Security Conference proved just how vulnerable people are to phishing attacks.
There is something irresistible about seeing “Free Wi-Fi” in a café or in a restaurant. This is seen as a benefit by most users who can save on their expensive data plans. However, it is also quite common for users to connect their laptops or devices to an open Wi-Fi network even if the host is unidentified.
In fact, a Symantec report found that 24% of organisations have discovered that their employees have connected their personal devices to malicious Wi-Fi spots.
This practice is particularly risky as many employees use and access corporate emails and exchange information using their personal laptops, devices and email accounts. Even some of the most powerful people in the world are guilty of this, including former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ransomware is a type of malware and is one of the fastest growing malware threats. As the name suggests, hackers would infiltrate a computer system, encrypt and hold the victims’ data until a ransom demand is paid – which is usually in the form of money or Bitcoin.
Data from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation report that more than 4,000 ransomware attacks happen every day since January 2016. This is a 300% increase in ransomware attacks compared to 2015.
Regular laptop users may think that they are not in any danger from such attacks but in reality, hackers do not only attack huge corporations or government entities. Ransomware is also being increasingly used to attack small businesses and individuals as well. Certain types of ransomware steal usernames and passwords before encrypting the victims’ data. This can allow hackers to access bank accounts, take customers’ data and perform identity theft.
As cybercrime is becoming more rampant, applying comprehensive security measures is becoming a top priority for huge corporations. However, for small business with less than 10 laptops being utilised, security is still not a main concern.
In fact, two-thirds of UK small businesses don’t think they’re vulnerable to cybercrime. This is according to findings conducted by the UK government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign. This clear lack of understanding about cyber threats are leaving these smaller firms open to various attacks, with the 2018 Verizon DBIR Report finding that 58% of malware victims are categorised as small businesses.
Small businesses are becoming the ideal victims because they hold more data than the individual consumer. At the same time, they usually do not have top-tier security measures in place. For instance, it is common for small businesses to allow their employees to bring their laptops out of the office in order to work remotely. While the employees are out of the office, these companies have lesser control on what public Wi-Fi network the employees connect their laptops to or what sites they access. These loose IT policies increase the security risks for the company.
Smaller companies may also think that they do not have very valuable data in hand however, the data stolen like customer information can be used to execute damaging crimes such as identity theft.
As early as 2015, tech industry leaders were pronouncing the dangers of cybercrime. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was quoted saying in a New York Security Summit that “…cybercrime by definition, is the greatest threat to every profession, every industry, every company in the world.”
British insurance firm Lloyd’s estimated that cybercrime costs businesses $400 billion U.S. dollars a year while Microsoft reportedly estimated the potential cost of cybercrime to the global community at $500 billion.
However, data from market analysts Juniper Research in the UK show that due to increased reliance on data and connectivity, this figure will increase four-fold. It reported that rapid digitisation of consumers’ lives and enterprise records will increase the global cost of cybercrime to $2.1 trillion by 2019.
The modern workforce is heavily dependent on new technology, software and various internet-based applications which are designed to simplify daily life.
However, taking the time to enforce basic safety measures such as keeping laptops and account passwords secure, installing anti-malware programs, and avoiding unidentified links and emails will go a long way to protect against cyber-attacks.
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