Last year, in a post on cybersecurity, we specified that business leaders need to be particularly careful with their online activity. The post noted that business leaders have a lot of potential digital exposure and vulnerability. Without proper cybersecurity in place, a business can stand to lose troves of data, and even put employee and client information at risk. As the post acknowledged, implementing cybersecurity solutions can seem daunting. But it’s worth it for business owners to mitigate the risk of some of these consequences.
What we’re asking in this follow-up piece is who else in our ever-more-online world needs to be particularly mindful of cybersecurity. The truth of the matter is that digital security matters a great deal for all of us, and it’s wise for everyone who spends time online to put some safeguards in place. With that said however, people who fit into the following categories would do particularly well to implement cybersecurity measures.
Thanks in large part to the pandemic, we’ve seen a rapid and widespread shift toward employees working from home (or other remote locations) rather than in traditional offices. This arrangement has its benefits, but it also exposes workers and companies alike to cybersecurity risks: Workers are using their own devices and may work on public WiFi networks, and companies are trusting their platforms and software to be accessed and used remotely. For this reason, we have begun to see specific cybersecurity tips for remote workers –– such as to use antivirus software, keep programs updated, check that networks and connections are secure, and more.
Online gaming is also something of a pandemic phenomenon. It existed and was popular long before Covid-19 of course, but also grew tremendously due to lockdowns and isolation. Indeed, some estimates suggest that people spent close to 40% more time gaming during the pandemic! This spike in activity, however, only makes cybersecurity for gamers more necessary. With more people in online gaming communities, and gamers remaining active for more hours, there is simply more opportunity for accidental exposure to cyber risks. Regular gamers would do well to change account passwords regularly, operate on secure or private networks (such as VPNs), employ antivirus software, and adhere to common-sense digital security practices (such as not leaving unlocked screens open in public places).
Online Poker Players
Similar to traditional online gaming, internet poker has also seen significant jumps in activity as a result of the pandemic. Toward the end of 2020, several of the most noteworthy platforms in the poker space reported profit growth of 20% or more, and there’s some evidence that those gains have held. In short, more people are playing online poker –– and in this gaming space, players often have even more sensitive data to protect than they might when playing other kinds of games. Per a recently written guide to playing online poker for real money, the sign-up process at legitimate sites typically requires that players submit their full names, addresses, and social security numbers. This is necessary for tax purposes, but the sensitivity of this information also means that poker players need to be particularly careful. Here, too, that means adhering to common-sense practices, employing antivirus software, playing on secure networks, and the like.
Regular Social Media Users
A few years ago, data revealed that social media was increasingly popular with cybercriminals, with fraud attacks on the rise and cybercriminals consistently finding new ways to exploit users. Volumes could be written about the different forms cybercrime can take with respect to social media, but suffice it to say personal data can be stolen, accounts can be locked and ransomed, users can be impersonated, and information related to linked accounts on other networks can be obtained. Simply because there are so many different methods of attack in this space, and social media is such an active space for cybercrime, regular users need to be mindful of their security practices. It’s best to take the time to read the fine print on each network, learn what privacy and security settings can do for you, and, ultimately, take advantage of ultra-secure passwords, two-step verification methods, and the like. This will all help to ensure your accounts don’t fall into the wrong hands.
None of this should scare people away from these activities. It is important to recognize, however, that cybercrime is part of our online world, and cannot be ignored. If you fall into these categories in particular, now is the time to consider what you’re doing to keep your accounts and activity safe –– and if necessary, increase your focus on cybersecurity moving forward.
Post in collaboration with Lara Taylor.