What is cyber security?

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Written by a NortonLifeLock employee


Can you put a price on your data, privacy, and identity? Cybercriminals can.

Rising cybercrime has led to a new way to look at cyber threats. It’s called cyber security — and it’s for consumers.

You might think of cyber security as something designed for big organizations. But guess what. Your digital life is big. And it’s getting bigger. That’s why it needs broader protection.

What is cyber security? Think of it as a blanket that covers your digital life. Cyber security helps protect your devices, data, identity, home network, and privacy — because it’s all connected.

A cyber security plan could cover these five areas:

  1. Protection for your PC, Mac®, or tablet 
  2. Protection for your mobile devices
  3. Wi-Fi VPN protection
  4. Identity theft protection
  5. Home network and Internet device protection

Cyber security means looking at your digital life in a holistic way. The goal is to stay safe in a connected world.

Why should I consider cyber security now?

While you seek safety and convenience in your digital life, the bad guys seek vulnerabilities. You may have a lot of them.

Consider this: The average North American consumer is projected to own 13 digital devices — stuff that connects to the Internet — by 2020. You may be well on your way.

What’s on the list? Cell phones, computers, tablets, gaming systems, smart thermostats, video door bells, crib monitors, pet feeders for Fido. The list is expected to keep growing.

But the same devices that can make your life more convenient may make it more vulnerable if they possess sensitive personal information. Think: computer viruses, ransomware, identity theft, and a lot more.

The risks come with real costs. U.S. consumers lost more than $19 billion in 2017 dealing with cybercrime. That’s about $90 per victim. Plus, victims spent hours and hours dealing with the cleanup.

Do-it-yourself vs. cyber security

Maybe you already take steps to protect your digital life. You might run a virus-detection program on your computer. Or you might keep an eye on your credit score for signs of identity theft.

What’s different about cyber security?

Remember, cyber security is that vast blanket. It can even be an all-in-one package that can help protect against an assortment of threats.

The alternative? You could decide to do it yourself and make your own blanket. You might try patching together a variety of products and services from a handful of companies.

In the digital world, that’s old school. And it may require a lot of work and expertise. Plus, you may end up with a smaller blanket that doesn’t cover all your risks.

Is cyber security right for you?

What you do to help protect yourself is a personal decision. It’s smart to know your options.

Cyber security companies have begun to offer consumers cyber security plans—a package of solutions, often for a monthly fee. For instance, a plan might include security protection for your devices and identity theft protection services.

So how do you decide if a cyber security plan is right for you?

Considering cyber security? Do these 6 things first

If you’re thinking about a cyber security plan, here are several things you might do to help you decide.

  1. Take inventory. Take stock of your digital life. How many connected devices do you have? How widely do you share personal information online with companies, friends, or family? Do you feel confident your digital life is safe?
  2. Weigh the risks. You probably know there are a lot of ways you can become a victim of identity theft and fraud. What is your tolerance for risk? Where do you think you might be vulnerable? Are you equipped to respond if you become the victim of a data hack or identity theft? Do you know what to do or how long it might take?
  3. Check the coverage. Protection comes in different shapes and sizes. What’s included? Which plan is right for you? How much protection do you need to feel safe?
  4. Do the math. Cyber security plans cover different things. Comprehensive packages typically cost more. But consider how much each part of a protection package would cost if it were purchased separately. That might include things like virus protection, identity theft protection services, a secure router. Will an integrated package save you money and time?
  5. Consider convenience: Do-it-yourselfers might thrive on complexity. Do you? Consider the effort it takes to research products, purchase and connect devices, and get them all to work together. A cyber security plan might be a simpler solution. How valuable is that to you?
  6. Find out what to expect after you buy: No one can guarantee cyber security. But if something goes wrong, it’s nice to know someone will be there to help you. Before you buy, check out what kind of support is included in a cyber security plan. Will you be able to call a customer service rep? Is your plan backed by money?

Cyber security vs. cyber insecurity

You probably want to feel your information is secure and protected. That’s the idea behind cyber security. It’s a way to help protect your digital life at home and across your connected devices.

Consider the amount of cyber insecurity in the world — hacks, breaches, viruses, ransomware, identity theft.

Cyber security for consumers brings cyber threats down to a personal level. It’s all about your and your family’s data, identities, and your home network — and someone to stand behind you if you’re ever a victim.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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