While cyber risks may seem theoretical, they are as real as
they’ve ever been. In fact, Ernst and Young reports cybercrime poses the
biggest threat to the global economy, with the cost of
cybercrime estimated to reach $6 trillion globally by 2021.
The US Department of Homeland Security also validates today’s
cybersecurity concerns. Since 2003, they have partnered with the National Cyber
Security Alliance to recognize the month of October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This year, the National Cyber Security
Alliance is encouraging individuals to do their part to #becybersmart.
While new cybercrimes and new ways to commit these crimes
will surely continue to emerge as the digital landscape evolves, the main way
you can increase your cybersecurity is by becoming more aware of the risks to
your personal information.
Identity theft was the number one type of fraud reported by
Americans in 2019.
Because identity theft is much less likely to occur if a cybercriminal hasn’t
acquired the personal information they need to misrepresent you, all of your
digital actions must be keenly focused on keeping this personal information
To do this, consider the following:
a PII (personally identifying information) skeptic
Increasing your awareness to cyber threats begins with
developing a healthy skepticism of anyone or anything (online and in-person)
who requests your personal information. Never offer your PII up without verifying
the source requesting it and the reason they need it. While cybercriminals may
play on your emotions or employ bullying tactics, never submit to their
external pressure. Your personal information belongs to you.
the PII access points
Because your devices store tremendous amounts of personal
information, cyber criminals deploy a variety of schemes over the internet in an
attempt to get access to your devices. This means, you must be especially
diligent about the security of your internet connection, especially when you’re
on the move. Avoid public Wifi whenever possible and consider investing in a
virtual private network (VPN) connection so that your connection to the
internet is secure regardless of the physical location from which you are
the usual suspects
Consider familiarizing yourself with common criminal messages
sent by phone, email or text, like unsolicited phishing scams. Phishing messages
are often designed to look like they’re from a company or person you know and
trust and may ask you to commit certain actions in response to the message such
as clicking on a link, sending payment, or responding with the personal
information requested. Never respond to these emails and when possible report
them to the Anti-Phishing Working group at email@example.com
Enhancing your cybersecurity smarts is as much a part of
every small digital decision you make as it is the big digital decisions. So,
before you click that link, download that app, or plug in that USB, simply take
a moment to evaluate the risk vs. the benefit.
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This information is provided for general
informational purposes only and is not intended to provide individualized guidance
Ernst & Young. “EY CEO Imperative Study 2019.” July 2019.
Cybersecurity Ventures. “The 2020 Official Annual Cybercrime Report.” December
The Ascent. “Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Statistics for 2019.”
AICPA approved this text.