Social media is prone to attacks because it’s easy for people to share and pass on just about anything including malware. (Pix by Pixabay)

LETTERS: Each year, social media-enabled crimes generate at least US$3.25 billion for the cyber-crime economy.

Social media is prone to attacks because it’s easy for people to share and pass on just about anything including malware.

According to Daily Mail, a cyberattack last year affected more than 267 million Facebook users in the United States. Their personal information was also exposed on the dark web via an unsecured database.

The dark web is everything that is unreachable through standard search engines like Google Chrome and Firefox.

One can get hard-to-access information and even purchase illegal drugs from this dark web.

In one shocking incident, a security researcher found that his database was left open for 14 days in the dark web.

He later found out that cyber-criminals from Vietnam were responsible.

This kind of data breach is not uncommon.

In 2018, a data analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica harvested the information of millions of Facebook users to create a predictive software program. At the time, it was the biggest data breach ever.

A data breach is one way to gather data. This is also true for phishing — where criminals gain our personal information for nefarious use.

Another recent data breach occurred in the United Kingdom where the addresses of more than 1,000 New Year honours recipients were published online in the government website for one hour.

What is the best way to avoid cyberattack?

For a start, a company must ensure that all software used to operate the business is updated and patched regularly to avoid weak spots that hackers can exploit.

Researchers have found that unpatched software most targeted by web exploits are — Java (56 per cent of the time), Adobe Acrobat Reader (25 per cent), Windows and Internet Explorer (four per cent), Adobe Flash (three per cent), Android Root (two per cent), and others (11 per cent).

New and enhanced features of the software also need to be updated frequently.

Social media users should always be cautious with the information that they publish online.

Avoid oversharing personal information. Your personal identifiable information will provide access to your financial accounts, credit record and other assets.

Did you know that staying connected with public WiFi is risky?

A study conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center showed about 40 per cent of people were unconcerned about using public WiFi.

One of the biggest threats with free WiFi is called Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attacks.

Let’s say you are at a cafe and you want to wire money to your parents via an online banking system using public WiFi.

In an MiTM attack, you will be connected to the hacker’s computer without you realising it.

The hacker then pretends to be you and connects to the real server, relaying information both ways to perform fraudulent online transactions.

If you need to use the public WiFi, especially when in another country, consider using Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the WiFi.

VPN secures your connection by sending data through an encrypted tunnel.

According to tech experts, the most secure VPN providers with top-notch encryption are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and VyprVPN. These can be purchased online.

It is vital to understand the threats that compromise the online security of our personal information.

Prevention is better than cure. Ensure all devices are fortified with suitable security features. Make good practices a part of your daily online routine.

NURAFIFAH MOHAMMAD SUHAIMI

Research assistant, EMIR Research