We define the “Three Primary Attack Surfaces” as email, internet devices, and networks for cyber-fraud and online damages. It’s across these three junctures of the internet where attacks start, and repercussions begin. This article addresses the second of the three attack surfaces – internet devices.
Internet devices include personal technology like computers, laptops, phones, pads, and tablets - anything with a keyboard or other user-input mechanism for connecting to the internet. All are subject to a regular barrage of attacks by varied interests ranging from legitimate but over-aggressive mining of the user’s personal information to unlawful activities to pursue illicit profit.
The FBI said in 2020, internet crime complaints in the U.S. were up 69%, and $4.2 billion was lost to online crime and fraud. $966 million of the total reported losses are attributed to senior citizens, with all the crimes taking place on their personal technology devices.
Best Practices to Protect Personal Technology Devices
Antivirus is essential
First, a high-quality antivirus service is essential. Without protection from malware such as ransomware, keylogging, and spyware, users stand little chance of avoiding loss and inconvenience from cybercrime.
The need for antivirus software has evolved. Today, internet devices require more than standalone virus blocking. To protect the user’s privacy and reduce the risk of an incident, a full “end-point protection” service should be considered. In this approach, threat management across multiple fronts is unified and managed for efficacy. Protection includes identifying and blocking potential intruders, data loss protection, browser and application controls, and a host of other functions required to fully lockdown an internet-connected device.
Mac and iOS devices need protection too
In the first quarter of 2021, for the first time, new Mac viruses outpaced new Windows variants. Macs are increasingly under attack because their users are deemed more affluent and less concerned with cybersecurity. Macs, iPhones, and iPads need protection from online threats as much as any other device.
Switch your browser
Google revealed earlier this year the extent of personal information collected from users of its wildly popular Chrome browser. Google monitors, analyzes, and stores data that goes well beyond search queries and browsing history and include a shocking level of detail on the users’ computer and phone activities.
Massive amounts of personal information can create a scarily accurate picture when subjected to Google’s algorithms and used for much more than targeted ads.
"We’re talking about subliminal cues, psychological microtargeting, real time rewards and punishments, algorithmic recommendation tools and engineered social comparison dynamics."
Harvard professor, social psychologist and author.
“The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power”
For privacy and security concerns, it makes sense to look at alternatives to Google’s Chrome browser.
Apple’s Safari browser collects less personal information than Chrome, and Microsoft Edge collects less than Safari. For greater privacy still, the Firefox browser collects little information – only what it needs to serve the user’s needs. Firefox is owned by its parent company, Mozilla, a nonprofit that is not in the business of amassing personal information for profit and control.
Privatize your searches
For mobile browsing, DuckDuckGo makes a browser that is entirely anonymous and private. DuckDuckGo also works as a search engine in computer browsers. Using Firefox for browsing and DuckDuckGo for searching measurably reduces your digital footprint on the internet.
Use a VPN every day
VPNs are like magic; they make you invisible online. All activities, browsing, shopping, banking, investing, it’s all encrypted and meaningless to the outside. Home, office, public Wi-Fi, with a VPN on your mobile device you are invisible and anonymous online.
Free security offers on the internet are best avoided at all costs and never use a free VPN. Find and gladly pay for a trusted and reputable VPN service provider to assure your activities on their servers are private and not logged.
Advanced solutions for Computer and Phone Security
Antivirus software has been around since the 1980s and has evolved with the threat landscape to include much more for protecting internet devices. In the 2010s, corporate investment in “end-point protection” secured mobile devices for employee usage and vaulted investment in IT security for use on personal technology.
Remote data centers, machine learning, and artificial intelligence also emerged in the 2010s. Today, the well-capitalized IT security industry is leveraging these advances and provides device protection “as-a-service” and in real-time. Defenses are informed with intelligence, real and artificial, updated, calibrated, and optimized by an “IT security department in the cloud.” With the cloud-based approach, all the heavy lifting is done off the device and is seamless for the user.
This “remote monitoring and management” (or RMM) of security functions is suggested for Apple and Windows computers, iPhones, iPads, and all Android devices. Combining best practices by the user with best-in-class RMM protection all but eliminates cyber risk on the device.