Throughout the entire month of January, The Fintech Times will be exploring every dimension of one of the industry’s most pressing topics: cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity breaches can happen at any time, anywhere, and no one is safe from their influence. Here, we’ll be looking at the process you can take in the immediate aftermath of an attack, and the steps that will lead you to taking back your security, information and life.
How a cyber attack affects an individual
When we consider the impact of cybersecurity breaches, many see the immediate effect within their financial situation. Indeed, money is the primary focus of cybercriminals, and a loss of assets is usually the first domino to fall. But it’s the wider personal impact of attacks that we must also consider. Aside from the financial loss, the integrity of the victim’s personal data is also swept away, and it can take many years to rehabilitate a sense of identity.
A personal cybersecurity attack has the ability to compromise the victim’s health and wellbeing. The experience of it can extremely stressful, which itself can translate into a whole host of physical and mental ailments, and the influence of stress has been well-documented in the development of sleep disorders, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Furthermore, even just one attack can sabotage a person’s belief in the use of technology, causing them to lose faith in something designed, and something that’s capable, of making their life easier. When victims suffer an attack, they don’t just lose their money or identity, but their established faith in fintech.
Like throwing a stone into a pond, the ramifications of a personal cyberattack are far-reaching and the resulting ripples are complex and difficult to remedy. Criminals can use data to accumulate debt and open fake bank accounts; even blackmailing their victims well after the attack itself has happened.
The influence of an attack is far-reaching, and the true impact of a personal breach is far too complex to accurately list them all here. But nevertheless, it’s clear to see that when criminals attack, they’re taking much more than what they initially sought to gain from their actions.
How to recover from a cyber attack
Having identified the toll the victim of an attack is forced to carry, it’s important to identify the steps that should be taken in the immediate aftermath:
- Place your device(s) in Safe Mode
Safe Mode is a diagnostic mode that’s typical of most electronic devices. When activated, it pushes the computing system into a reduced level of operation, which will help to contain an immediate cybersecurity attack. It should be your first point of call when experiencing an attack.
- Stop the virus from spreading
Disconnect your device from any network to which it’s associated. Cybercriminals often utilise WiFi connections, or connections between partnering devices, to manoeuvre their activities, and can infultrate multiple devices through striking just one.
- Secure your passwords
If suffering from an attack, it will be within your best interest to change your passwords as soon as possible. Criminals will steal passwords to access varying levels of information across multiple accounts, and may even change the password to those accounts to restrict the effects of any remedy you’re trying to impose. Having your accounts backed up by a secure email address is a surefire way to ensure that you’re still able to change your passwords if an attack comes your way.
- Discover what’s been taken
When your device contains multiple streams of information, it can be difficult to identify exactly what’s been taken. To do this effectively, scrutinise your data security logs through either your firewall or email logs. Cybercriminals may not necessarily wipe your files, but may instead encrypt your files, limiting your access. Missing or faulty files will act as a good indication of an attack, and if you’re struggling to identify the true extent of the damage, investing in a cyber investigator or security programme will assist you in this task.
- Back-up what’s left
Just because you’ve been attacked, doesn’t mean that the attack itself is over. Once you’ve identified the files that have been affected, do your best to back-up the remaining contents of your device. This could be to either an external hard drive, or to a secure cloud platform, as it’s unlikely that your device will be safe to use from that point onwards.
- Replace Outdated Systems
To prevent an attack from reoccurring, ensure that you update the outdated systems that facilitated the attack in the first place. This can be in the form of a general system update, and should also be accompanied by the an update to your cybersecurity software.
- Report the crime
Just like any form of physical crime, assault, robbery or otherwise, cybercrime must be reported. The process of reporting a cyber attack will differentiate from region to region, but it’s essential that you do so, so that the possibility of any future attacks can be stalled. There is also a likelihood that those you report the crime to will be able to locate your data and the person, or persons, behind the attack itself.