Most people tend to over-estimate the chances of really bad things happening to them. Consider that the odds of being struck by lightning are only 1 in 700,000, while the likelihood of being involved in a plane accident are less than 1 in 5 million (data respectively from National Geographic and The Economist). Nonetheless, one statistic to be wary of is that there is a 1-in-4 chance (or 25.6% likelihood, to be precise) of your home PC encountering a cyber threat.
This cheery data point comes courtesy of Avast, a leading cybersecurity business, in its Global PC Risk Report, an annual publication. The threat could be anything from ransomware to spyware via worms and Trojans (details on all of these and more can be found here). The bad news is that the probability of seeing your PC compromised is higher than the year prior (when the figure stood at 20.1%). This is perhaps not surprising given that lockdown has seen an increasing amount of domestic PC use both for business and personal purposes. The (relative) good news is that very few of our readers are likely to live in China, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Iran or Algeria which are – per the report – the countries where there is the highest risk of digital compromise.
What to do? Some of the solution is common sense. Most data (~70%, per IDC) is breached at the weakest link, namely the endpoint; in other words, your desktop, laptop or mobile device. Avoid repeatedly inputting personal data and use multiple passwords. At the same time, it is reassuring to see that almost all cybersecurity businesses are clearly continuing to spend on product innovation to counter the growing threat landscape (as evidenced by higher year-on-year R&D spend). Meanwhile many payments companies are increasingly deploying encryption and/or tokenisation software as a way of countering possible threats – since it is in unsecured digital transactions where a large number of breaches occur. More broadly, almost 50% of corporates say they plan to increase cybersecurity spending in 2020, by an average of 29% (per a recent Capgemini study). Such investment makes sense; attacks to PCs constitute a virus that is not going away any time soon.
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