The World Wide Web, more commonly known as the Internet, is the widest digital network ever created and the primary platform of communication for over 64% of the world’s population, currently surpassing 5.16 billion connected users according to the DIGITAL 2023: GLOBAL OVERVIEW REPORT by WeAreSocial.
This percentage becomes even more remarkable when we look at developed countries. Here in the UAE, with a population of over 9.5 million, over 99% of the population has already an Internet connection according to the WeAreSocial report.
On the occasion of World Wide Web Day (on August 1), Check Point Software Technologies wants to reaffirm its commitment to achieving a safer world and environment for everyone.
As shown in the WeAreSocial report, users around the world primarily use this global network to search and share information. The most visited websites are social networks and other messaging platforms, with 4,760 million total users at the start of the year, reported Facebook as the most popular network with 2,958 million active users. Meanwhile, cybercriminals continue to take advantage of these platforms’ immense population for their own purposes, with a 38% increase in global cyberattacks in 2022 compared to the previous year.
The anonymity or impersonality that comes along with these telecommunications allows cybercriminals to carry out phishing attacks more easily, impersonating companies and acquaintances to distribute malware on both personal and work devices.
In fact, despite the significant amount of time we spend in front of screens, with 6 hours and 37 minutes daily average on the Internet and actively connected to the network for over a quarter of the day, many of us still repeat some bad practices and common mistakes. Check Point Software shares the essential commandments that every user must follow while using the Internet, to stay safe in their digital day-to-day:
- Do not click on unknown links: Internet users are often too trusting when browsing the web. With a growing number of phishing campaigns (especially in the business environment), users must be especially cautious about URLs sent via SMS or email. Cybercriminals increasingly impersonate well-known company websites to steal personal data. To avoid becoming a victim, users should always visit the official website of the sender directly from their browser instead of clicking on the link included in the message.
- Use strong and unique passwords: having different passwords for each platform can prevent collateral damage in case of an attack. Once cybercriminals find a correct combination, they try to access all the user’s services using the same password. According to a Google survey, 65% of participants reuse their passwords across multiple accounts and web services. To avoid this risk, it is recommended to have a unique password for each application or service, and these passwords should be robust, consisting of at least eight characters, including both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Enable 2FA: another way to protect an account and reinforce password security is to use two-factor authentication services, which provide an additional barrier in case passwords are compromised. By adding an obligatory step where the user must authorize access to one of their accounts, these tools can deter and prevent cyberattacks.
- Be careful downloading attachments from unknown sources: attachments from unknown senders can be an entry point for any type of cyberattack. Therefore, it is crucial not to download any type of file from an unwanted or unexpected message, as it could serve as a gateway for malware to enter a device.
- Avoid accessing public and unprotected Wi-Fi networks: it is important to bear in mind that public networks lack any security measures, which opens an easy door to cybercriminals. The main problem is that attackers can access everything stored in our device when they are present in the same network we are. Given this ongoing risk, it is best to avoid using such networks whenever possible.
- Always browse trustworthy websites: it is essential to check whether the website being accessed has an SSL Certificate. This technology ensures that the internet connection is encrypted and protects any confidential information sent, preventing cybercriminals from capturing or modifying any transferred data. A quick way to recognize secure websites is by checking the URL, which should include “https://” at the beginning.
- Education and cybersecurity awareness: the best way to avoid falling prey to cybercriminals is to be able to recognize them. Users need education in basic digital hygiene practices as it could significantly prevent cyberattacks from occurring.
“The Internet is undoubtedly a fundamental part of our lives, and it is part of the daily routine of millions of users and companies worldwide. However, despite continuous use, bad practices concerning cybersecurity are still present, especially here in the UAE, where we are seeing organisations being attacked on average 1313 times per week in Q2 2023”, shares Ram Narayanan, Country Manager at Check Point Software Technologies, Middle East. “Online security starts with users themselves. Therefore, it is essential that we become more aware of our actions and the inherent dangers when browsing the web”.