3 Cyber Attacks That Can Impact Consumers and How to Protect Yourself

Your identity is valuable. While you may not think you are at risk of having someone steal your identity, you could be wrong. Today, the buying and selling of personal information on the black market is intense and a risk to virtually any consumer. And protecting yourself is no longer as simple as just safeguarding your Social Security number.

What Types of Cyber Attacks Are Out There?

Consulting firm Deloitte provides insight into the threat of cyber attacks on everyday consumers: In one study, conducted in 2015, an estimated 84 percent of consumers expect companies to keep their data safe and hold those companies responsible for doing so. So, where are these cyber crimes taking place and how?

Here are a few types of cyber attacks occurring around the world today, some of which could impact you.

#1: Malware

Malware or, more specifically, socially engineered malware, is one of the most common risks. Here, a person is tricked into opening a Trojan horse or other type of virus. Most often, this is not through a simplistic email, but rather on a website one trusts and visits frequently. Malware can trick a user into believing they are safe and, as a result, they reveal sensitive information.

The best protection in this situation is to minimize the amount of information you share on websites. It is also important to use anti-malware programs on your computers to help detect its presence.

#2: Password Phishing

An email comes to you from a website, bank or company you know and trust. You open the email, click on the link to the site, and enter your password. Then, you learn it was a fake email, and you just provided your password to a threatening entity.

If you receive such an email, never simply click on a link within it. Instead, open a new browser window and type in the website yourself to visit it on your secure location.

#3: Unpatched Software

A bit more complex than the rest, this form of cyber attack involves browser add-in programs or other programs you download and use. These programs purport to help you improve the function of web browsing, but they are actually using your private information. Make sure your patching is ideal, and be sure to use secure browsers whenever visiting any website.

There are other cyber threats as well. Social media attacks come in the form of friend requests or links shared through messenger features. Other attacks are more vicious and include viruses of all types. Staying up to date on these threats is critical. And, if you spot something suspicious occurring on your credit cards or credit report, contact the credit bureaus immediately.