With Women And People Of Color More Vulnerable To Cybercrimes, Here's How To Protect Yourself

How safe do you feel online?

Many of us know someone who has been the victim of a cybercrime or have had our own unfortunate experience having our information and/or identity compromised. In the digital age we live in currently, that’s not a complete shock, as stories of significant hacks of companies and email accounts happen regularly. But what might surprise you is to find out that specific demographics are more vulnerable when it comes to different cyber attacks.

Malwarebytes, a renowned cybersecurity company, in conjunction with non-profit partners Digitunity and the Cybercrime Support Network, recently released The Demographics of Cybercrime report. They surveyed more than 5,000 people across the United States, United Kingdom and Germany to understand how people have experienced cybercrime. The report found that people of color (“Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color”) have their social media accounts hacked more often than white people (at 45 percent compared to 40). They are also more likely to experience identity theft than their white counterparts (21 percent to 15 percent). People over 65 have their credit card information stolen more often than any other age group. And in the most significant find, women are targeted more often than men, with 79 percent receiving text messages from unknown numbers with malicious links (compared to 73 percent for men), 46 percent of women saying they’ve had their social media hacked compared to 36 percent of men and 45 percent clicking on phishing scams (the use of email and fraudulent sites to steal important information) than men.

“At its core, cybercrime is gender-agnostic, but we have seen time and again that the most vulnerable are directly affected. Sadly, this includes women of all ages,” Jovi Umawing, senior content writer for Malwarebytes Labs tells ESSENCE, also mentioning that women are most often impacted by cyber stalking. That is where an individual uses technology to follow a user around on different platforms on a regular basis in order to scare, bully or torment. “Cyber stalking is a form of cyber violence against women, the digital version of real-life domestic abuse.”

Though women of color are more at risk for cybercrimes, avoiding being a victim is not impossible.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and in an effort to better protect ourselves, ESSENCE got some tips from Umawing and the Malwarebytes Lab on the best ways to play it safe when we’re shopping online, perusing social media, doing online dating and more.

When Using Social Media

Share information and media responsibly. It goes without saying that you should keep your personal phone numbers, physical address, full complete name, off of social media sites, especially Facebook. As for images and videos, make sure to black out parts that could be identifiable to you, such as street names and/or house numbers. Lastly, it’s best to refrain from sharing intimate photos due to the huge potential of revenge porn and sextortion.

When Using Online Dating Sites

Be wary of romance scammers and sextortionists. Gone are the days when we just worry about bot accounts in dating sites. Nowadays, these same sites have become preferred locations of romance scammers who are after your money and sextortionists who may also be after more of your intimate photos and videos.

When Doing Online Shopping

Do not reuse your password. Making sure that no two online accounts have the same password also ensures that all your accounts cannot be compromised should one of them be breached.

When Using Gaming Platforms

Know that phishers can and will do anything to get your credentials because your gaming platform account is valuable. Someone might ping you privately or you might see a post on Discord, Twitch, or YouTube about an irresistible promo. These are lures aimed at not really giving you free stuff but getting your gaming accounts hijacked.

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