Since women and people of color are more prone to cybercrime, here’s how to protect yourself
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How safe do you feel online?
Many of us know someone who has been a victim of cybercrime or has had our own unfortunate experience of information and / or identity being compromised. In the digital age we currently live in, that’s not a complete shock as stories of significant corporate and email account hacks happen regularly. However, what might surprise you is to find that certain demographics are more vulnerable to various cyberattacks.
Malwarebytes, a renowned cybersecurity company, recently published the report “The Demographics of Cybercrime” in collaboration with nonprofit partners Digitunity and the Cybercrime Support Network. They surveyed more than 5,000 people in the US, UK and Germany to find out how people have experienced cybercrime. The report found that social media accounts of people of color (“blacks, indigenous people, and blacks”) are more likely to be hacked than white people (45 percent versus 40). They are also more likely to be affected by identity theft than their white counterparts (21 to 15 percent). People over 65 are more likely to have their credit card details stolen than any other age group. And in the most important finding, women are attacked more often than men: 79 percent receive SMS from unknown numbers with malicious links (compared to 73 percent for men). 36 percent of men and 45 percent click on phishing scams (the use of email and fraudulent websites to steal important information), compared with 41 percent of men.
“At its core, cybercrime is gender neutral, but we’ve seen time and again that the weakest are directly affected. Unfortunately, this includes women of all ages, ”Jovi Umawing, Senior Content Writer at Malwarebytes Labs, told ESSENCE and also mentions that women are most often affected by cyber stalking. Here a person uses technology to regularly follow a user on various platforms in order to scare, bully or torment them. “Cyber stalking is a form of cyber violence against women, the digital version of real domestic abuse.”
While women of color are at higher risk of cybercrime, avoiding falling victim is not impossible. October is the month of cybersecurity awareness. To better protect us, ESSENCE received some tips from Umawing and the Malwarebytes Lab on how to play it safe when shopping online, browsing social media, dating online, and more.
When using social media
Share information and media responsibly. It goes without saying that you should keep your personal phone numbers, address, and full name away from social media sites, especially Facebook. For pictures and videos, make sure you black out parts that you can identify, such as street names and / or house numbers. Finally, it’s best not to share intimate photos, as revenge porn and sex tortion have huge potential.
When using online dating sites
Be wary of romance scammers and sex tortionists. Gone are the days when we were only concerned about bot accounts on dating sites. Today, those same websites have become the favorite places of romance scammers who are after your money and sex tortionists who may also be looking for more of your intimate photos and videos.
When shopping online
Do not use your password again. Make sure no two online accounts have the same password, and also make sure that not all of your accounts can be compromised in case one of them is breached.
When using gaming platforms
Know that phishers can and will do anything to get your credentials because your gaming platform account is valuable. Someone might ping you privately, or you might see an irresistible promotion posted on Discord, Twitch, or YouTube. These are baits that are aimed at not actually giving you free stuff, but instead hijacking your gaming accounts.
For more information, see the full results of the report here.