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Are you cyber-mindful?

October 23, 2017
We’ve heard about distracted driving, and the dangers inattention can cause on the road. But paying half attention to something can also mean danger when you’re sitting at your desk, or surfing the Internet on your phone while you’re lying on the couch.

Distracted clicking. It’s a thing. And criminals are counting on us to do it.

With the volume of information coming our way every day in emails, text messages, social media and websites, we’ve become experts at scanning subject lines and headlines, pulling out relevant key words and either quickly responding or moving on. We’re now interacting with information in fractions of seconds by just glancing at it.

And cyber criminals are developing and evolving scams that exploit those habits and tendencies and lure us to either quickly click or use social engineering tactics to make us want to react quickly (e.g. spoofing the CEO’s email address).

More than 150 million phishing emails are sent every day, and about 10 per cent of them make it through spam filters. Out of those, about 800,000 con people into clicking on a malicious link. The reason why most fell for the trick? They were in a rush, or they were distracted by another task. They weren’t really paying attention.

If they had been, they likely would have picked up on a number of clues that indicated the email wasn’t legitimate.

That’s where cyber-mindfulness comes in. Being thoughtfully tuned into the potential risks online, we’re more likely to identify and avoid (or at least expediently remedy) sneaky attempts to trick us into handing over important data.

So just as you might take action to prevent distracted driving, such as putting your phone in the backseat, take a few minutes to think about how you can be more present and cyber-mindful when you’re online.

Whether it’s setting aside distinct blocks of time to review emails, turning off pop up notifications, or deciding to review emails and going back to respond to them after grabbing a cup of coffee, there are things you can do to ensure you are paying better attention and activating your critical thinking skills.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to start your cyber-mindfulness practice and ensuring you’re up to date on the latest cyber security threats and what you need to do to stay safe.

The Government of Canada has created a toolkit of information covering various topics from understanding the Internet of Things (and how to stay safe and protect your privacy), teaching your child digital citizenship and protecting yourself from fraud. Get Cyber Safe