In the UK there are approximately 64 million internet users, with the average person spending an estimated 6 hours and 12 minutes online.
The 23rd of August is World Internaut Day, a day that commemorates the anniversary of one of the greatest technological events: the day that a web page was published for the first time worldwide in 1991. From that moment on, the internet has continued to grow and has changed every aspect of our lives, both professionally and personally. With millions of people now using the internet to be kept updated and informed about daily events, to connect with others internationally and engage socially online.
According to Statista there are 64 million internet users in the UK alone and 57.6 million of those are actively using social media networks such as Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram and YouTube. It has also been reported that the average person spends an estimated 6 hours and 12 minutes online per day.
Unfortunately, because of these high usage rates the risk of being a victim of a cyberattack is continuing to rise. According to a report by Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ:CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, Q2 2022 saw a historic peak, with global cyberattacks increasing by 32% compared to Q2 2021.
Some of the most common dangers to which internet users may become exposed are:
- Malware: A variety of malicious software: computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and scareware, amongst others. It can take the form of executable code, scripts, active content and other software. In the UK, the top malware list for July includes 2 RATs, 2 Infostealers (Formbook, SnakeKeylogger) and 1 Botnet (Emotet).
- Phishing: A social engineering technique used by cybercriminals to fraudulently obtain confidential information from users to steal their identity. This can result in the theft of personal data, credit card information and other banking details. One of the most common forms of phishing is through the imitation of well-known or trusted brands, with phishing links placed in innocuous looking emails which unsuspecting victims click on. Here in the UK, 79% of malicious files were delivered via email in the last 30 days.
Check Point Software offers the following advice to surf safely and minimize the risks:
- Only visit secure websites: Many websites do not have security measures in place, either because they are poorly configured (putting shared information at risk) or because they are malicious. For this reason, it is essential to take extreme precautions when sharing personal data on the internet and to know which websites are secure. The best technique is to check whether it follows the https security protocol IE. if the URL includes an -s at the end, this means that it is secure and is adapted to protection standards. Another sign present in some browsers, is a green padlock at the beginning of the link which can also confirm a sites legitimacy.
- Always install updates: It is often thought that updating software and applications is unimportant. However, Check Point reveals that this habit of ignoring updates can put users and organizations in a vulnerable position as the different protection patches that providers offer to solve previously detected security errors are not then implemented. In other words, having the latest software update will optimize the level of security, and is an effective strategy for keeping data and files safe from potential security breaches, cyber-attacks, etc.
- Do not use the same username and password for different online services:More and more services, programmes or applications are now available over the internet. For this reason, the same access credentials are often used in order to simplify and avoid forgetfulness and connectivity problems. This is a huge mistake because if a cybercriminal can gain access to the username and password of one of these applications, it will be very easy to break into the rest. For this reason, it is essential to use different usernames and passwords for each platform, avoiding easily guessed combinations such as important birthdays or pet names.
- Download applications only from official shops: From gaming, social network and online banking applications, there are more and more platforms available to download. Consequently, users tend to install a large number of these programmes on their mobile devices. It is important to make sure that whenever you download one of these apps it is from an official shop (Play Store, App Store, etc.) and that you are reading the different terms and conditions of use as in some cases, you can lose control over your data and information.
- Protect your devices: A cybercriminal can gain access to a smartphone, tablet or computer in many ways, thereby stealing an incalculable amount of information. As a result, it is essential to protect yourself against cyber attacks, with Check Point Software reminding us of the importance of having security software that protects your devices and information. It currently provides ZoneAlarm Mobile(home version) and Harmony Mobile (corporate version), mobile threat defence solutions that protect devices against advanced mobile attacks.
“The Internet is part of everyone’s daily life and after the pandemic its use has intensified even more. For this reason, it is important to know the dangers we are exposed to every time we perform tasks such as browsing sites or downloading an application, to stay protected with a prevention-first stance, and avoid putting our data at risk,” says Ian Porteous, Regional Director, Security Engineering, UK&I at Check Point Software.