It’s October and among other things, this means it’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an annual initiative driven by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCA).

The NCA’s mission is simple; to “empower all digital users to keep themselves safe and secure online and to encourage a culture of cybersecurity.” And its audience is broad; consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions, and young people.

Getting the cybersecurity message out there is important:

  • According to the Accenture report Ninth Annual Cost of Cybercrime Study, released in March this year, there were 2.3 billion data breaches in 2018 compared to 826 million in 2017. That’s one serious leap, almost triple.
  • Malware and web-based attacks were the most costly, resulting in losses during 2018 of $2.6 million and $2.3 million respectively.

But it’s not just malware we need to be aware of, identity theft is equally rampant:

Take responsibility

Beyond running antivirus protection there are some fundamental steps that help safeguard you online:

Don’t overshare on social media. Nefarious characters of all shades trawl social media platforms looking for personal information. It could be an address, date of birth, holiday times and so on. This sort of information can reveal a lot about you and is readily exploitable by the unscrupulous.

Update your privacy settings. Check the privacy settings for the online services you use and make them as strong as possible. For instance, social media settings allow you to limit who can see your posts so you’re not broadcasting to the entire world and cybercriminals.

Only install apps from recognised app stores. When you download an app read the permission requests carefully. If you’re not comfortable with the information the app wants you to use, don’t use the app. Also, treat your phone as a wallet or purse. Log out of your banking app when you’re not using it, only download banking apps from official app stores, don’t change the factory security settings on your phone and protect your phone with a password.

Lock down security

Build on the points above by applying the following simple steps:

Don’t rely on a single password for multiple accounts. When passwords and email addresses are stolen, from a company database, for instance, it’s standard practise for cyber thieves to apply these details to different online services. They know that many people use the same passwords across different accounts. So change up your passwords to something strong and unique and use a password manager if necessary.

Turn on multi-factor authentication. Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) on an email service, for instance, will make a huge difference. If your email address and password are stolen in a hack, 2FA keeps your account safe. The same applies to other online accounts too. 

Shop safe on. Make sure the website is legitimate and check that it is secure by looking for the padlock symbol in the address bar and don’t use public Wi-Fi to make online purchases. It’s not safe.
Identify and stop phishing attacks. Phishing emails are one of the most common online threats and plenty of people fall victim to them. Be smart. Look out for unexpected emails that say you have a parcel to collect, an invoice payment due to you or similar. Be on guard for emails that purport to come from your bank, solicitor, builder and so on. Always double check with a phone call to the organisation in question before responding to an email you’re not sure about.

Connect online

Always update to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. Attackers make a living from finding vulnerabilities and exploiting software that has not been updated.

When connecting to public Wi-Fi limit browsing to simple things unless you are protected by a VPN. Public Wi-Fi is largely insecure and there are many methods attackers use to exploit this. A VPN, however, will keep you safe and enable you to shop and bank online in complete safety.

Remember you’re a target when you’re online. Attackers to one side, there is a vast data collection industry that monitors your online footsteps and collects the data trails you leave behind. This is then typically sold to third-party data brokers. Someone somewhere out there knows, everything about your online activity. Remain anonymous, retain your privacy and protect your identity with a VPN.

Protection made easy

If you’re running BullGuard protection you have the best award-winning antimalware available.  But antimalware can’t defend against all threats such as staying safe on public Wi-Fi. This is why a VPN is so crucial – it protects your privacy, guarantees your anonymity and defends you against attacks designed to steal your data.

In the spirit evoked by National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’re offering a special 50% discount on BullGuard VPN.

  • BullGuard VPN provides a private tunnel between your devices and uses military-grade encryption to protect and lock down your data, making your online communications impregnable.
  • It keeps you safe on public Wi-Fi and enables you to shop and bank online from free wireless hotspots in complete safety.
  • BullGuard VPN also hides your IP address and geographical location so you are untraceable. Your data can’t be read and your online activity can’t be monitored or restricted.
  • You can access sites and services that might be restricted in your country or workplace and watch all your favourite shows at the highest download speeds with no bandwidth restrictions.
  • You can secure up to six devices and use BullGuard VPN on all major operating systems, Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS.
  • If you’re already a BullGuard user, BullGuard VPN integrates seamlessly with your existing protection.

The 50% discount is for a 3-year subscription which is a real steal. You pay a mere €3.12 each month and with this tough protection, nobody will be stealing from you because you’ll have the ultimate in online protection.
Offer ends October 31, 2019.