Cybercriminals will continue to target one thing, you!
For many people, the year 2020 marked a turning point for digital technology. Formerly fringe concepts like the blockchain and cryptocurrency largely became mainstream, and alongside them came calls to move society itself into the metaverse.
For anyone who isn’t familiar, the metaverse is a new name for an old idea, where virtual and augmented reality environments overtake our material reality as the primary place where we live, work, and play.
Some visionaries speak of a coming renaissance in consumer technology, where there are no limits to what you can do or who you can be. As rival tech giants compete for the opportunity to become the default face of this new frontier, there is a noticeable lack of attention being called on what should be an obvious roadblock to this digital future. Scammers, bad actors, and even state sponsored hackers are successfully infiltrating and destabilizing the technologies we already have, so how can we stop them when they’ll soon have even more ways to take what they want?
The answer lies not in technical methods, but in good old-fashioned human behavior. 90% of all known data breeches occur because of a phishing attack. Phishing is the practice of tricking internet users into revealing sensitive personal or confidential information which can then be used illicitly. This usually takes the form of emails made to look like they’re from a legitimate or trusted source, convincing the user to take an action that will compromise their device, network, or data.
Phishing is just one hacking technique that falls under a category called social engineering, where the attacker relies on psychological manipulation to achieve their goals. Examples include an email made to look like it came from your boss that asks you to send a payment directly to the sender, or a text message from a number claiming to be your bank asking you to verify your login information.
These types of attacks are by far the most common and rely on the target’s lack of diligence to succeed. No matter how technology evolves, people will still be susceptible to these types of attacks. So how do we combat them? The short answer is awareness. Internet users need to be constantly aware that every online communication carries the potential to have serious consequences. Be on the lookout for some tell-tale signs of phishing, such as improper grammar, incorrect email addresses, suspicious attachments, and messages that want you to seek immediate action.
The best phishing scams pose as innocent correspondence from people or institutions you’re familiar with. Avoid these traps by studying the contents carefully, and only act if you can confirm their legitimacy. If your bank is supposedly reaching out to you for information and you’re unsure, navigate to their official website and contact them through their posted phone number instead of clicking a suspicious link.
Without a doubt technology and its place in our lives will continue to expand. Social engineering however, will keep using the same old tricks in new places, trying to trip you up. Keep your head on straight and watch where you’re going at all times to avoid these unpleasant acts.