Forecasts indicate that by 2030 there will be 25.4 billion IoT devices in use worldwide. From smartphones to smart heating systems, we use IoT devices in all areas of our work and home life. And there’s no denying that being connected makes many areas of our lives much easier. However, it allows a new, more sinister cohort of criminals to take advantage.
Cyber crime refers to any form of criminality carried out online using the internet as a way to gain access to personal or business data. Examples include grooming, stalking and harassment, financial scams, and even romance fraud.
Cyber security threats
There’s been a significant rise in cyber criminality in recent years. As scammers become increasingly proficient in their schemes, it’s more important than ever that everyone is aware of the dangers posed online.
A report by the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre found that the top three cyber crime types are:
- Hacking using extortion tactics
- Hacking of social media and email
- Computer viruses, malware, or spyware
Some of the key enablers that have contributed to the rise in the number of successful cyber crimes include:
- Phishing emails
- Weak passwords
- Greater online activity during the Covid-19 pandemic
How do you know if you’ve been targeted?
There are several clues to indicate that you may have been a victim of a cyber crime:
- You’ve noticed an increase in the activity of your computer’s central processing unit (CPU) for no apparent reason. This may indicate that ransomware has been installed and is searching for, encrypting, and removing data files.
- You’re unable to access certain files on your devices.
- You have unexpected call charges on your mobile phone bill.
- You’ve started receiving unexpected or irrelevant posts.
Tips for keeping safe online
With criminals targeting both individuals and businesses, remaining vigilant at home and work should be high on everyone’s agenda. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself while using IoT devices and browsing the web:
Keeping your software and operating systems up to date protects your device with the latest security features available.
Use a VPN
Since Chrome is the most widely used browser, consider installing a free VPN Chrome extension. This means that a criminal won’t be able to gain proper access to your device. Using a VPN limits the information hackers can get hold of, as they won’t know your IP address. As such, they won’t be able to retrieve further personal information, keeping you safer while searching online.
Use strong passwords
Use strong passwords that combine numbers, letters, and special characters to limit the chances of a hacker guessing your login information.
Never open attachments in spam emails
Phishing scams are amongst some of the most popular methods that cybercriminals employ to gain access to a device. Don’t open the attachment if you receive an email from someone you don’t know or weren’t expecting.
Above all, the key to keeping safe online is to remain vigilant. If you think you’ve been a victim of cybercrime, you should report it immediately to the National Crime Agency.