2015 in Review: A Year fraught with Cybersecurity Risks

2015 year in review banner_02As 2015 comes to a close, we are reminded of everything that happened in an especially eventful year in cybersecurity. The year kicked off with the massive hacking of Sony Entertainment that resulted in a film being pulled out of theatres all across North America. The data breaches that followed have not only increased in number, but also hit closer to home. From the cyberattack on Canadian government agencies in June to the Ashley Madison scandal, Canada has been catapulted into the international spotlight. It is now more important than ever to protect your personal information, whether you’re facing a data leak or an email phishing scam. Here’s what we learned this year:

If there’s one lesson to take away from 2015, it’s that we can no longer rely on corporations or even the government to protect our data.

From the IRS to Walmart and even Apple, the unauthorized leaks of thousands of individuals’ sensitive contact and financial details are now an everyday occurrence, and these attacks show no signs of stopping. Canadian federal agencies were faced with a record-breaking 256 data breaches, up from 228 in the previous year.

There has been no shortage of exciting technological advances in 2015. However, new “smart” devices such as drones and Samsung’s Smart TV have also raised concerns about mass surveillance and the implications on the privacy of the households they inhabit. In particular, there has been much talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to devices that are equipped to transfer data wirelessly and automatically, without direct interaction. However, IoT is also leaving company and home networks more vulnerable to hackers than ever, leaving many to ask what manufacturers and companies will do to protect individual privacy in an increasingly interconnected world. Learn more on our blog post about the Internet of Things.

Speaking of “smart” devices, handheld phones have become so much more than communication tools– they are also a portal to our sensitive business and personal information.

McAfee Labs, a leading source on cybersecurity, reports that the 3.3 billion smartphone connections worldwide today will continue to grow to a staggering 5.9 billion by 2020, and along with it the security threats. Recognizing this problem, mobile security has been the focus of many of our blog posts:

Wherever people are, that’s where the hackers and cyber-criminals will go too.

We all connect to a wireless Internet network on a daily basis. However, very few pause to consider the dangers they are opening themselves up to when connecting to an unfamiliar WiFi hotspot. Find out how you can ensure a safe Wi-Fi connection on your device.

If the increase in social media scams are any indicator of the growing online security risks, it’s clear that there needs to be more knowledge how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn are being used by fraudsters today. Learn more on our blog post.

Back in 2013, Maclean’s reported that close to 40 million North Americans were active online dating users. Compared to the 37 million Ashley Madison users whose personal information was leaked this year, it’s clear how much online dating has grown. Here’s our blog post on how to protect yourself from romance scams.

Meanwhile, Black Friday 2015 proved that consumers are spending more of their time (and money) online than at traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

  • For those who buy or sell online, here are some tips on keeping phone and email communications safe as you negotiate a deal.
  • The popularity of Apple Pay and Google Wallet has also led to many targeted attacks on mobile payments apps. Learn more about using your mobile payment safely this holiday season.

Many of the most devastating security breaches of 2015 occurred at major companies and organizations outside of our personal control. Do your part in protecting your personal privacy.

Review the small changes you can make right now to your device’s settings. Choose an app such as Privacy Shield, which lets you block unwanted communications and hide your real phone number and email address from unknown contacts. And of course, follow Privatis on Twitter and Facebook for safety alerts and updates to ensure a safer 2016.

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