Let’s face facts. Cybercrime is a real threat. How real? According to the 2019 Official Annual Cybercrime Report by Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime will cost the world over $6 trillion a year by the end of 2021. That’s a rise of $3 trillion in just a few years – and that’s a big chunk of change.

The thing is, practically everybody is affected by cybercrime, and we can all be a victim. From your accounts to major businesses, hackers are always on the hunt to break down the online security barriers and ransack for digital information. Cybercrime is on the rise (as if that wasn’t obvious giving the stats above), with some big names falling victim, including Yahoo and Equifax. Millions of customers are affected when a corporation gets hacked, which makes ransomware one of the biggest threats to watch out for. And in the words of Yoda, ‘watch out you can.’

You don’t need the Force to fend off online hackers, though that might help – we’re sure Disney might one day have a Star Wars show that delves into the digital world but until then, let’s look at more realistic methods. You can take many different steps to ensure you’re safe when you go online, keeping your details secure and minimizing the risk of being a victim. So look shall we (oh no, it’s catching on!).

Prevention is the best method of protection, which goes without saying. But what that entails is for you to ensure you’ve got all the right, relevant, and robust security measures in place to begin with. There are many anti-virus software packages out there, along with ad blockers and VPNs. All of them play a vital role in preventing malware and ransomware from being installed onto your computer. However, if you really want to prevent any attacks from happening, don’t be cheap – it’s always worth paying out for a great piece of software, rather than relying on the free ones. Just read the latest privacy news to find out how important this can be and other tidbits of information to help prevent you from becoming a cybercrime stat.

Learn and identify the threats out there, so you know what to look out for in the first place. In doing so, you won’t have to rely on the preventative measures you have in place because you’ll be avoiding it, to begin with. This means you just need to be more internet savvy, which we’re sure you are already. Perhaps the most obvious thing is to always make sure a website you go on is secure.

Look out for the padlock icon on the navigation bar and check to see its certificate. If it’s got ‘HTTPS’, then that’s another giveaway it’s a secure site, especially when it comes to monetary transactions. However, you’ll probably know straight away from the contents of a website whether it’s secure or not. If it’s covered in banner ads and viral, clickbait type content, then it’s best to avoid. These sites have many untrustworthy clickthroughs, trying to get you to download something onto your computer. Don’t do it.

Passwords need to be strong. Of course, you want them memorable, but you can go the old-fashioned way and write them down on paper and hide them in a safe. As so many websites and online services require passwords, try not to use the same one for each; make them as strong as you can by using special characters and a mixture of alphanumeric keys.

Refresh yourself on the latest cybercrime trends and news. As mentioned above, reading the latest privacy news is a good way to stay on top of this. The benefit is that you then know what online hackers are up to and will know what to avoid and how to combat it if the threat ever affects you.

Update your systems on all of your devices, even the consoles you use to play your favourite games. This is a key thing to do as your computer and smartphone, and tablet devices often go through updates. While it may be tempting to dismiss an update, maybe because you don’t have space for it, you should always try and make the time, especially when security updates are included. Turn auto-updates on or check sporadically to see if there are any updates because it’s an added extra to help you on your quest to combat cybercriminals.

These are just some of the most basic steps to take to avoid being a victim of cybercrime, and as you can see, they’re all pretty easy to do. They won’t eat up into your online time, and by practising them, you’ll be doing them instinctively in no time, ensuring you can remain safe when you’re online. Do or do not; there is no try.

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