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International Friendship Day: Could Your Cybersecurity Mistakes Also Put Your Loved Ones at Risk? 

by uma
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The mistakes we make on our personal accounts and profiles can have a direct impact on the cybersecurity of our closest contacts.

London, 30 July 2022– Last Christmas, many WhatsApp users were targeted by a troubling phishing campaign, with cybercriminals imitating one of the victim’s contacts to build a false sense of security and gain access to private data. The severity of this attack was a result of the popularity of social media platforms as, once one profile has been compromised, it puts their entire contact list at risk. As a result, it’s important for every user to be aware of the most current cyber threats not only to keep themselves secure but also those they are in communication with both personally and professionally. This is why, on International Day of Friendship, a day set aside to think about others, Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, wants to warn users of the risks and provide three top tips to keep safe online.

It’s important to note that the risks are not restricted to one social media platform and that attackers will take advantage of any security breach to gain access to personal information. For example, many phishing campaigns are distributed through e-mails, requesting a password reset. As many users rely on the same password across all their online accounts, once a hacker has these credentials, all of those accounts that use the same login information are at risk. Furthermore, all of your contacts on those accounts are now at the mercy of the hacker.

The same is true if a hacker manages to perform SIM swapping, a technique by which, through a phishing attack, they use stolen data to duplicate a mobile SIM card, providing access to the victim’s entire online profile. If this happens, all the contacts on the phone in question are up for grabs, allowing cybercriminals to send phishing texts or malware-laden emails in order to carry out financial theft or extract credentials to also gain access to their contacts too, creating a domino effect.

Three Top Tips to Bolster Your Cybersecurity Efforts

  1. Secure Your Passwords: The best way to keep ourselves and our friends and family protected from a cascading cyberattack is to create strong passwords by avoiding the classics such as “123456” or “password” and using different combinations for each platform to stop cybercriminals accessing more than one account. It is also advisable to change those passwords periodically to keep yourself even more secure. It is also wise to consider implementing two-factor authentication.
  2. Stay Savvy: The hustle and bustle of everyday life can make us all more susceptible to accidently clicking on a link or falling for a scam. So, anytime you receive an email or text message from an unknown sender, take a minute and look for any signs that it could be malicious. For example, incorrect grammar or any language that is trying to entice you to make a snap decision. If in doubt, don’t click on any links and go direct to the website that could be being impersonated.  
  3. Study New Threats: Cybercriminals are becoming more and more creative in how they try and attack accounts. This means that users have to try and stay on top of campaigns so as not to fall victim to the latest trends. Remember to check in on news sites and cybersecurity websites to keep informed on what the newest approach is, so that the next time you receive an ill-intentioned message, it is already at the forefront of your mind. 

With these simple tips and tricks, it will be easier to avoid being attacked and putting your loved ones at risk. 

“As we celebrate our connections on International Friendship Day, we need to think about what we can do to keep our friends safe online,” warns Ian Porteous, Regional Director, Security Engineering, UK&I at Check Point Software. “Often when one of our social media accounts or devices gets hacked, we only think about ourselves. Today should act as a reminder to all, that when we fall victim to an attack, it also puts all of our contacts at risk so good communication is important. It is not a matter of apportioning blame but more about what we can to keep our friends, family and colleagues safe online.”