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Becoming Cyber Secure Starts with Becoming Cyber Aware

Personal Insurance, Identity Guard

Do cyber risks seem distant and ill-defined threats to you? Would you spend more time on your cyber security practices if they impacted your day-to-day life?


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[1], with the cost of cybercrime estimated to reach $6 trillion globally by 2021.[2]


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.[3] 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 safe.


To do this, consider the following:

  1. ​​​Become 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.


  1. Consider 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 logging in.

  1. Know 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 reportphishing@apwg.org


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.


AICPA endorsed Aura Identity Guard has helped over 50 million satisfied customers protect their personal information. Through a special partnership, AICPA members receive up to 60% off Identity Guard protection plans.[MG1] 

 

This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide individualized guidance or advice.



[1] Ernst & Young. “EY CEO Imperative Study 2019.” July 2019.

[2] Cybersecurity Ventures. “The 2020 Official Annual Cybercrime Report.” December 2019.

[3] The Ascent. “Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Statistics for 2019.” November 2019.


 [MG1]Confirm AICPA approved this text.