A former WORLD-LEADING hacker turned cybersecurity expert has revealed his top five tips for staying safe online.
Michael Calce nearly broke the internet when he was just a teenager, taking down a number of the world’s biggest websites in 2000.
He was an online menace known by the nickname “MafiaBoy” and it was a stunt that landed him in jail.
But now he’s turned his skills to defending the Web from the next generation of hackers like himself.
At just 15, his cyberattacks on web giants including Yahoo!, CNN, Amazon and eBay led to widespread pandemonium in the United States.
And strangely, thanks to his massive attack, the world was introduced to a whole new frontier of crime while exposing how easy it was to wreak havoc.
Now, the world knows all about cybercrime but is desperately struggling to address it, with the industry being a huge business for scammers.
The Neustars 2022 Cyber Threats and Trends report predicts that by 2025, cybercrime will have an annual value of 8.5 trillion.
We are more isolated and vulnerable than ever: Everything is connected to the internet and inexperienced people are forced to use devices without training, Michael told The Sun Online.
The average Internet user is burdened daily with spam, worms and viruses and is exposed to all types of online fraud, identity theft, extortion and other serious crimes.
So no matter your tech proficiency, the reformed hacker tells The Sun there are several ways you can help protect yourself from online threats.
1. Learn by yourself
I think the first step is to educate yourself, she said.
Just imagine people are on devices six to eight hours a day, you can spare an hour and read things like what are the latest threats?
“What are hackers targeting? How do I protect myself?
It might sound boring, but the information is out there, waiting to be read.
Michael pleads: “A lot of times people say, ‘Well, I’m not a target.’
“And I have bad news for you, you are a target. Everyone is a target.”
Everyone and their data has value – whether it’s money scams, data sharing, identity theft or other threats – every Internet user is worth something to someone.
2. Always keep everything up to date
This, explains Calce, is essential: keep everything from software to applications or apps constantly updated.
Tech companies built this update for you to better serve and protect you, she says.
Updates are there to improve user experience and aesthetics, but mostly they exist to fix critical patches based on discovered vulnerabilities.
If you ignore updates, you may be running an older version that is susceptible to known attacks.
Each update is likely to provide more and more security and protection from any vulnerabilities in their software, so update as soon as possible.
3. Leave fewer fingerprints
The Montreal-based computer security expert recommends using a firewall (preferably a two-way firewall). This basically works to block potential nuisances or threats.
These technological devices, which can be downloaded, are basically a barricade that filters and monitors incoming network traffic.
Many companies rely on these, but Calce says people should be using them too. If it’s a two-way firewall, you’re blocking incoming and outgoing traffic, everything is monitored, and you’ll be notified if anything is out of the ordinary.
Better yet, encourage using a VPN (virtual private network) behind a firewall. This works to mask your online identity or digital actions through methods like hiding your location and protecting your data from outside access.
The fewer footprints you leave around, the better, Calce says.
4. Buy devices with built-in security
This is a clear no-brainer for the computer whiz and he’s amazed people don’t do it anymore.
Calce served as chairman of HP’s Security Advisory Board for more than five years, so he knows a thing or two. Companies, he says, have invested billions in cybersecurity software that will protect you from online threats, so use them.
These built-in security applications automatically monitor all the time and protect you.
5. Look for all your gadget simple solutions
The former hacker encourages users to use the simple fixes available to them. There are many layers of security, she says.
It can be as simple as pressing a button to enter a privacy filter. So for anyone looking at the screen from any angle except directly, the screen is blank.
Your gadgets are incredibly smart, so always keep up with what’s available for you to use at the click of a button.
Calce’s basic message is that people can stay safe and secure online without having to be a computer whiz, but it’s essential to stay informed and make a few simple changes.
Know the risks, he says, and act to minimize them.
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