It’s easy to feel invulnerable online when you’ve generally avoided negative experiences on the Internet. Unfortunately, a cyberattack can take a severe toll on you very quickly. Here are some life-changing consequences you can suffer from a cyberattack as a modern Internet user:
1. A Crippled Computer
Short for malicious software, malware is any software designed to cause you or your computer harm on the Internet, including viruses, Trojan horses, worms, adware, spyware, stalkerware, ransomware, and scareware.
Malware is a growing problem — there are nearly 100 million malware programs on the Internet, while billions of attacks are reported daily.
Two of the most chaotic types of malware are viruses and worms, and both exist to give you grief. A virus is contracted through compromised websites, programs, and emails, and replicates itself on your computer while infecting, modifying, and deleting programs. Meanwhile, a computer worm replicates itself through networks. Unlike a virus, a computer worm doesn’t need to be activated by you. Both pieces of malware can cripple your computer and leave your valuable data irrecoverable.
2. Financial Grief
Some types of malware have the potential to hurt you financially. For example, ransomware locks your valuable files, folders, and even your entire system until you pay a bounty. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that the ransom will work, or that cybercriminals won’t target you again. Many sole proprietors, victimized by ransomware attacks, lose a small fortune in bounties, extra operational costs, and lost opportunity costs.
Spyware can be potentially more dangerous than ransomware. Spyware is a sly piece of malware that quietly sits in the corner of your computer and records your confidential information such as usernames and passwords, to help crooks commit identity theft. Once cybercriminals have your personal information such as your social security number and biodata, they can drain your bank account to zero. Unfortunately, your financial institutions may refuse to help you if they believe you’re to blame for the cyberattack.
3. Fear and Paranoia
Stalkerware is a sinister type of spyware designed to help abusers stalk you. Stalkerware is dangerous because it can send your abuser your pictures, videos, location, and voice recordings. The malware can also be used by stalkers to listen in on your conversations in real-time.
Some abusers use stalkerware to commit domestic abuse, while others use the malware to play dangerous mind games. Spouses, jealous exes, rejected romantic interests, and even strangers use stalkerware to prey on unsuspecting victims.
How Do I Protect Myself from a Cyberattack?
It’s essential to learn the basics of cybersecurity from a trusted cybersecurity firm to protect yourself from online threats. Always keep your devices and computers updated, use the most advanced cybersecurity software, enable your firewall, and subscribe to a VPN service that secures your Internet connection. Likewise, set strong passwords, don’t use suspicious links, avoid untrustworthy websites, and think twice before borrowing technology.
Although the consequences of a cyberattack are serious, there’s a lot you can do to stay safe in the face of growing threats. Of course, the most crucial step was to arm yourself with knowledge.