Cybercrime: Will You Be The Next Victim?


You’ve seen the news releases on the latest cybercrime activity.  We all gasped at the theft of roughly 150 million records from Equifax.  And then Yahoo admitted that 3 BILLION (yes with a “B”) user’s records were compromised. Clearly, it’s not a matter of if but when you will be the next victim of some kind of cybercrime.

What is Cybercrime?

The term cybercrime describes a broad variety of illegal activities.  Findlaw defines it as:

Cyber crimes are criminal offenses committed via the Internet or otherwise aided by various forms of computer technology, such as the use of online social networks . . . with a computer or smart phone, including theft or child pornography . . . cyber bullying, sexting, and a whole host of other crimes commonly committed online or with the help of computer networking technology.

While you’re most likely familiar with crimes such as hijacked credit cards and identity theft, cybercrime extends to corporate and political espionage.  It’s become so prevalent and far-reaching that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a separate division to investigate and bring to justice those involved.

Doesn’t My Present Insurance Protect Me From Loss?

Traditional homeowners and business insurance policies may or may not offer some coverage.  You’d be well advised to get a professional review to determine where you stand.  It’s very likely your coverage should be adjusted.  You may even benefit from a separate special policy that offers extensive and broad cybercrime coverage, especially if you have potential loss exposure in a business you own.

Who Are Likely Victims?

Individuals, businesses, and essentially everyone who uses the internet is a target.  If you transmit, store, or in any way use personal or financial information in virtually any electronic media or with any electronic device, you’re a target.  If you haven’t already experienced some kind of cybercrime, the odds are that you will.  As you’ve seen in the news, even huge corporations and the government have been hacked in spite of vast security systems and multiple layers of protection.

How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Family?

For the individual or small business, the best way to protect yourself against financial loss is with an insurance policy that covers all the risks to which you are exposed.  These policies can protect you in the event that customer’s information that you retain is stolen, losses you incur due to various forms of electronic fraud and theft, and more.

Even worse than financial loss is life-changing psychological damage done by cyberbullying, child abuse, damage to reputations, and a growing list of other crimes perpetrated through smartphones, computers, and tablets.  There’s no compensation that can make up for these, so it’s vital you take precautions to minimize risks and keep  you and your family safe.  Here are the basics suggested by professionals:

7 Tips To Protect Yourself From Cybercrime

Keep your devices clean.

Purchase and use  reputable software, such as these tested and rated by Consumer Reports. Once installed, keep them updated and check them regularly to be sure they are fully operational.

Use strong passwords.

You’ve been beaten over the head with this one, but yes it is that important.  Do not use the same password on every site or device.  Set up a password protocol you can remember but is unique to each.  Here’s an example of how to do that (do not use this one!):  Combine the last four numbers or letters of the name or phone number of the website with your initials and a special symbol that identifies the site to you, such as $ for a financial site.  If your name is Jane R. Doe and you’re visiting a Bank of America site, that would look like ricaJRD$.  Invent your own protocol, and use it.  And never, ever say yes to letting the site or computer store your passwords.

Don’t click!

Do not click on unknown or untrusted links, and teach your children this.  If a pop-up appears on your screen, NEVER click it.  Read and save this article on  Wikihow on how to handle these without falling prey to scams, virus implants, or worse.

Use caution on social media.

Never disclose personal or financial information on social media.  Limit what you put in your profile to what is the minimum essential.  Check your security and privacy settings on every social media site you use.  If you don’t know how to do this, ask for help from someone who does.

Use only secure websites.

Look for the “https://” in front of the website name.   While it’s not a guaranteed protection, it’s another layer of security.

Separate and back up important files.

Don’t store sensitive information on your device.  Use a separate password-protected storage device such as a portable hard drive or a memory stick or card.

Monitor and throttle usage by children and young adults.

Use a software program or app on each device they use  to keep young ones safe from online predators of all kinds.

Linda Allen

I'm a serial entrepreneur, with a resume that makes me look like a Jane of all trades. Pretty sure we are all reluctant Messiahs, travelling through life planting seeds where ever we can. Hopefully, most of mine have been good ones! MA from Miami University (Ohio, not Florida), BA from Cal State.