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Color of Money: What you don't know about cybersecurity can cost you

Michelle Singletary on

Our passivity and procrastination in doing what we need to do to prevent identity theft help the crooks.

"The internet of today is truly a transformative communications and learning tool that radically enriches the lives of billions each day," Krebs writes. "Yet, never before in the history of the internet has this medium been more fraught with snares and ne'er-do-wells looking to fleece the unwary. You may not understand the value of your computer, your internet connection, your inbox, or your digital files, but I guarantee you the bad guys do, and they've become quite adept at extracting full value from these digital assets."

What we don't know can cost us money and, just as importantly, can leave us feeling vulnerable and scared.

One thing I didn't know: Spam is still the main villain. It's the doorway many cybercriminals use to get your information and gain access into company systems.

With our spam filters and the constant drilling to not open suspicious emails, we've been lulled into a false sense of security, Krebs says.

A lot of people still fall victim to malicious emails on which dangerous software rides piggyback. And do you feel safe about your anti-virus and anti-spam defenses?

Foolish you.

"The spam ecosystem is a constantly evolving technological and sociological crime machine that feeds on itself," writes Krebs. "Thus far, the criminals responsible for unleashing this daily glut of digital disease are doing a stupendous job of overwhelming the security industry."

Here is a scary statistic from cybersecurity giant McAfee's most recent threat report: In the first quarter of this year, there were 244 new cyberthreats every minute, or more than four every second.

Another chilling finding from the report: Ransomware, which is mostly spread through spam, grew by 59 percent in the last four quarters. This is when a hacker locks you out of your computer by encrypting your files and demands payment to give you access to your own data.

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