Home Cyber Attacks. Are You at Risk?

Cyberattack complaints as many as 4,000 a day.

The numbers are staggering and scary. The FBI recently reported that the number of complaints about cyberattacks to their Cyber Division is up to as many as 4,000 a day. That represents a 400% increase from what they were seeing pre-coronavirus.

Rise in cyberattacks during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

The global pandemic has seen a huge rise in people working from home, shopping online, and generally being more digitally connected than ever. There are plenty of good things that have come from this but there is a lot of bad as well. One of the biggest issues is that cyberattacks have skyrocketed during this period, according to MonsterCloud. Cybercriminals have taken this opportunity to up their attacks, both in frequency and scope. Here is what you need to know about the rise in cyberattacks during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Homeowners must increase safety protections in their home networks and connected devices.

“Hackers are exploiting common security flaws and using them to breach home networks, computers, and mobile devices,” said Eric Cernak, vice president and cyber practice leader for Munich Re. “Once cyber criminals have access, they can steal personal and financial information, hold computer files for ransom, and hijack anything from webcams and thermostats to smart TVs.”

Jerry Irvine, CIO of Prescient Solutions and member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Cybersecurity Leadership Council, agreed that homeowners face a real threat and need to increase safety protections in their home networks and connected devices.

“The good news is that homeowners can take steps to protect themselves from destructive criminal intrusions,” Irvine said. “Understanding what hackers look for and how they premeditate an attack are critical to building up a home defense system. The important thing to remember is that hackers are imperfect and can be disrupted.”

Risk management tips to secure home systems

1. Keep systems updated with patched and security updates. Install the most current Windows, OS/iOS, updates/patches and applications. Regularly update firmware on routers and all other devices.

2. Separate social media from financial activity. Use a dedicated device for online banking. Use a different device for email and social media. Otherwise, just visiting one infected social site could compromise your banking machine and your financial accounts.

3. Secure the network to which the devices connect. Don’t broadcast your wireless router/network name. Change default usernames/passwords on home routers and smart devices. Activate wireless router encryption, use WPA2, not WEP. Do not connect smart devices directly to the Internet linked to home computers, but rather through a separate IoT firewall.

4. Set up two-factor authentication for all online accounts. Create complex passwords (nothing that can be easily guessed, such as children’s names, birthplace, etc.). Use secondary authentication; this sends a secret code to your phone verifying your identity.

5. Secure your smartphone. Many people still do not use passcodes to lock their smartphones. Don’t be one of them. Almost all IoT devices are controlled by a smartphone app, so phones have become key entry points to homes.

6. Think before purchasing or installing apps on smartphones or tablets. Make sure you read Privacy Policies before downloading. Do not download any apps that prompt you to quickly download, as they may contain malicious code and security flaws designed by hackers.

7. When not using Bluetooth, turn off the feature. Mobile phones, tablets and many new smart items in the home have Bluetooth functionality (smart speakers, set-top boxes, baby monitors, etc.). Such devices have recently been hacked into because their owners left on the Bluetooth option.

8. Purchase only new devices in unopened packaging from reputable retailers. As with any expensive device, there is a black market for counterfeits that have limited security protections. Do not be tempted to buy such devices.

9. Wipe/reset to factory defaults. When replacing connected devices or selling a home, devices should be restored to factory default settings. This will ensure that personal information contained on the devices is removed.

10. Check insurance policies closely. While a typical Homeowners Policy may cover the costs of the resulting damage (theft, spoilage, etc.), they generally do not respond to costs associated with restoring the systems that have been compromised in the attack.

Information provided by MonsterCloud and Help Net Security

 

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