From websites to webcams: The evolution of data privacy concerns

We live in a data-driven society, where people, devices, and services constantly use information to improve lives and simplify work. And with every passing day, this data is becoming more sophisticated and effective—and more important to protect.

That’s because there is a rise in cyberattacks aiming to steal and hold this data to ransom. Hackers may try to seize everything from private photos, videos, and sensitive work files to lock people out of accessing files, all to cause as much disruption as possible.

So, how exactly should you prepare yourself against these data threats? And with the industry evolving rapidly, what should you prioritize first?

This article will explore the most pressing threats you’ll face regarding your data. You’ll learn practical ways of using cloud technology safely and protect yourself from rising cyber threats that aim to spy on your online activity.

The rising cost of data-related threats

Data is a valuable resource in business and is one of the principal motivators behind a cyberattack. A report from 2023 found that the average cost of a data breach reached $4.45 million, showcasing a 15% increase over the last three years.

Moreover, 82% of breaches involved data stored in the cloud, highlighting the serious concern businesses now face in defending themselves.

Criminals can use stolen data to conduct other cyberattacks or demand a sum of money either in exchange for the decryption of the files or a ransom to stop the potential leaking of files.

In 2022, over 493.33 million ransomware cases were reported worldwide, making it one of the most common forms of cyberattack. Many cases may go unreported because these kinds of attacks can cause significant reputational damage to companies.

Five ways of protecting online data from data threats

Despite a spike in ransomware cases, there are many ways to protect your and your company’s data. Below are some tips and tools you can use to mitigate or avoid data-related threats:

1.    Safeguard your cloud technology

Cloud technology is revolutionizing how we work with data. It uses a virtual storage space that allows companies to store and access data online and any business software, databases, analytics, and more. It’s also incredibly easy to scale, meaning that as your company grows, your cloud technology can too.

Files in the cloud can be accessed worldwide, allowing businesses to attract top talent from anywhere. But as more people adopt cloud-based technology, it’s important to put protections in place to safeguard stored data.

One service which is leading the way in this regard is Box.com. It has a variety of cybersecurity solutions tailor-made to protect and secure data held in a virtual space. Key features include:

  • Encryption: Files are encrypted at rest and cannot be executable, thus preventing the spread of ransomware throughout the business.
  • Access levels: Smart access features can restrict data sharing outside the organization.
  • Data compliance: Users can collaborate on sensitive files without compromising on the integrity of files.
  • Malware detection: Using context-aware machine learning, files are scanned and can be automatically labeled as malicious. A report can be sent to IT and security teams to help address security concerns promptly.

Like many cloud-based technologies, Box uses a zero-trust infrastructure, which can help alleviate employees’ security concerns. Context-aware intelligence can help verify and detect suspicious behavior and flag and identify potentially compromised accounts. It has built-in multi-factor authentication, watermarking, and encryption to further fortify stored data in the cloud.

2.    Secure all of your internet connections

One of the best ways to protect your data from being stolen and sold on the dark web is by securing your internet connection. This prevents anyone from monitoring your online activities and deciphering what you are doing.

You can do this by using a virtual private network (VPN). It works by sending your internet traffic through an encrypted virtual tunnel. This process ‘scrambles’ information sent and received, preventing anyone from knowing what you’re doing online.

With a VPN, you can work on highly sensitive data with complete peace of mind that you aren’t compromising its security or integrity and are complying with data regulations.

But keep in mind that we live in a very connected society, where many gadgets can connect to the internet and send or receive information. Fortunately, a VPN can protect all of your connections.

3.    Don’t overlook basic cybersecurity practices

Despite cyberattacks becoming more elaborate and sophisticated with each passing day, there are many practical ways people can protect themselves.

That’s because if you have an excellent foundation across all your online activity, you’ll be less vulnerable to vulnerabilities that novice hackers depend on for an attack.

Practical ways of safeguarding your online data, both personal and for work, include:

  • Data backup: Regularly perform backups of all essential data so that you have access to and can restore files in the event of an attack.
  • Strong passwords: Set strong, unique passwords for each account you manage. Consider a password manager which can store, encrypt, and create robust codes for you to use.
  • Multi-factor authentication: MFA can help safeguard accounts, as it requires a person to verify their identity to gain full access to an account.
  • Timely updates: Ensure you regularly update all software, add-ons, plugins, and operating systems.
  • Training: Undergo regular training to improve your skills in identifying emerging threats and learn how to react in the event of a suspected attack.

4.    Protect yourself from ‘camfecting’ attacks

Webcams have become part and parcel of remote working, where people can jump on a video call and collaborate with colleagues worldwide, mirroring the traditional office experience.

But webcams have become a potential vulnerability in cybersecurity, as a rise in attacks, known as ‘camfecting,’ threatens to activate a webcam and record a user without their knowledge or consent.

Because so many webcams have built-in microphones, data collected can result in devastating breaches of sensitive information. What’s more, it can be challenging to calculate the extent of a data breach from this kind of attack. People may be unaware of just how long their webcam has been compromised, what it has seen, and what it has heard.

However, there are many simple ways of addressing the privacy concerns of a webcam. Remember to use a webcam cover or disconnect the device entirely when not in use. Additionally, keep your antivirus software up-to-date so that it can monitor any suspicious app activity on your device.

You should also regularly check your device’s security settings to ensure no application requests permission to use your webcam when it doesn’t need to.

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