Cyber Security in the Digital Age


Complex depiction of cyber activities.

For the past five years, I had been growing my Instagram account, posting pictures from different points in my life and following many people along the way. As much as I hated to admit it, my online life had somewhat merged into my real life. I enjoyed posting on Instagram, checking out all the posts from the people I followed and watching my number of followers grow. Maybe that is why I was so distressed when my account got hacked in early November, it felt like I had just lost a part of me that had been with me for a good portion of my life. I would have to start up a whole new account and rebuild my online “persona”. While I was really angry when I lost my account,  I realized that things like this happen far too often, and that you’re never really safe on the internet. I completely underestimated the importance of cyber security, especially in this digital day and age.

Cyber security is the protection of networks, accounts, programs, and devices from cyber-attacks. These attacks are attempts by hackers to damage a computer network or system. It can be something as simple as a hacked account in which one loses control of their data, or something as extreme as invasive surveillance from a repressive regime.

Over the trajectory of the last decade, hacking has become a far too common occurrence. Around 6 million Instagram accounts are hacked a year and this is not limited to accounts with thousands of followers but regular accounts. In my case, my phone number and password were changed, rendering it impossible for me to get back into my account.

Luckily, there are things that you can do to ensure your privacy is maintained online and that all autonomy is yours. The first recommendation is to use multifactor authentication, which is a two-step verification process, to ensure protection.Next is to set up a strong, unique password. Most importantly, do not click on links from emails or text messages to access Instagram… spoiler alert, it’s usually not from Instagram.

It is important to do everything you can to keep your social media pages safe and secure, which is accomplished by being vigilant and approaching unknown online issues with caution.

With hacking is on the rise, it could happen to absolutely anyone, including celebrities. In 2020, a team of teenagers hijacked 130 high profile Twitter accounts to conduct an elaborate Bitcoin scheme. They hacked accounts like Barack Obama, Kanye West, Elon Musk and Bill Gates in the hopes of fooling people into sending them Bitcoin, in return for double the amount back. The hackers received over $110,000 within just a few minutes.

This scheme worked because people believed that these multi-billionaires would give them money. However, it is important to understand that no one will give away free money online.

Other cyber hacks that are very common nowadays include identity theft, phishing and attacks on businesses.

One of the largest cyber-attacks of the last decade was in an infiltration on Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014. The attack was led by the North Korean government and resulted in all Sony computers showing only a red skeleton. The hackers, coined themselves “Guardians of Peace” and stole 100 terabytes of data, wreaking havoc on the entire Sony system.

With all the risk that comes with being online, it is crucial to protect yourselves and remain safe. While I have quickly gotten over my lost Instagram account, I urge everyone to take cyber security seriously, as you never know how bad the damage could be.