The next wave of security threats are upon us: Here’s what you need to know

It is becoming increasingly difficult to stay safe online, with the proliferation of threats and the new and complex ways that cybercriminals can target people. ABS statistics show that one in nine Australians  - 2.1 million people in total – were victims of personal fraud in 2020-2021, and that number is likely to continue growing.

They’re not just targeting people through email, either. Research shows that social media has become incredibly prolific for spammers and phishers, and these trends are seen especially clearly with regards to cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and other digital assets. Over the past year, crypto assets have gone mainstream, becoming a $2 trillion sector, and attracting everything from Wall Street investors, right through to casual pundits. NFTs are giving art fans a new way of interacting with art, and increasingly the likes of Bitcoin are being used to make everyday purchases.

However, these things can be notoriously insecure if the user isn’t careful, and earlier this year, a single social media phishing campaign resulted in the theft of $1.7 million in NFTs. Unlike conventional currency, when these assets are lost, they can be almost impossible to recover.

Digital assets are the most recent example of how rapidly the threat landscape can move on the Internet, and how important it is for people who use the Internet to maintain security best practices.

The number of attack vectors is increasing

For too many, the perception of a “cyber attack” is that it’s still just a virus. They believe that if you simply don’t click on the attachment from the obviously suspicious email, then you’ll be fine. However, even those that are aware of other vectors of attack, like ransomware of phishing, often still don’t have a complete picture of just how many ways cybercrime is committed.

As the ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report, produced by the Australian government, shows, there are dozens of different ways to commit a cyber attack, and no single vector accounted for more than 25 per cent of total attacks. Internet users are at threat from everything from shopping and online banking scams, to harassment and bulk extortion. Malware – the thing that everyone does consider before clicking on download in their email – was only two per cent of cases.

A good example of how the combination of new attack vectors and mediums can come together is a widescale identity theft and crypto scam that occurred on Twitter in 2021, when hackers were able to gain access to several high-profile people on the platform – like Elon Musk – and then use their accounts to tweet out a scam under the guise of something legitimate.

As Norton noted in a blog on the subject: “The scammers will not make these rational observations easy for their victims. Instead, they will do their best to pressure them into making irrational decisions. Confidence tricks, a sense of urgency, and the fear of missing out all serve to make a perfectly rational person make irrational and reckless decisions.”

Because the range of threats is so broad, it’s more important than ever to have a security solution that is equally broad and comprehensive. With the range of threats in a state of constant evolution, it’s also important to have a security solution that is likewise flexible and able to rise to new challenges as they emerge.

How Norton approaches security

Having a healthy scepticism for what you see online, and taking personal responsibility for following security best practices is important, but also is having the right technology to support your best practice approach to security.

Norton recently issued a warning for what will likely be the next wave: scams that capitalise on the crisis in Ukraine, with donation and charity scams, romance scams, and MDM (misinformation, disinformation and malinformation) all already emerging as attack vectors this time around. “While the situation in Ukraine is evolving, so are the cyberthreats facing consumers. Continue to stay alert for attempts to exploit the conflict and be sceptical of news you receive on social media,” Norton notes.

To assist users online, Norton provides a suite of tools that adapt to an evolving threat environment. The Norton 360 Premium solution, for example, includes real-time threat protection and anti-virus, as well as 250 GB of secure backup to protect critical files, a password manager to better secure passwords, dark web monitoring to identify when compromised data is being shared among criminal groups, and a secure VPN with bank-grade encryption to protect sensitive data before it heads down the Internet tunnels.

The solution also includes protection for multiple devices – including mobile devices, and SMS security, with SMS being another increasingly common attack vector for cyber criminals.

Staying successfully secure online comes down to a personal awareness of best security practices, backed up with active technology that responds to emerging threats. With this approach, it is possible to securely and safely engage in crypto trading, take advantage of new trends on the Internet, and securely buy and sell products and services.

For more information on Norton security solutions, click here.

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