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'Shark Tank' investor Robert Herjavec: 7 simple steps to protect yourself from hackers

It's tempting to deal with the threat of a hacker stealing your digital data by simply hoping, or assuming, it will never happen to you.

"People assume that they're exempt from the risks of cybersecurity," Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group, and a star of ABC's "Shark Tank," tells CNBC.

"Similarly, businesses assume it will never happen to them," says Herjavec. "It will! Cybersecurity risk is everywhere and no matter the size of your business the data you process and ingest can be exploited for financial gain."

Malicious or "black hat" hackers steal and then sell information.

"Not to be morbid, but we are all targets," says Herjavec. "Today's hackers are after information which they are using as a weapon for political and financial gain. It can be identity information, corporate IP secrets, passwords, payment information — no matter what it is, they're either putting it up for sale on the deep dark web, holding files for ransom, or leveraging the data to influence markets, politics and business."

"Businesses assume it will never happen to them. It will! Cybersecurity risk is everywhere." -Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of the Herjavec Group

By 2021, the cost of online crime will be $6 trillion annually, up from $3 trillion in 2015, according to a report from Cybersecurity Ventures, a leading market research firm.

The rise of digital currencies like Bitcoin have made it easier for black-hat hackers to demand payment anonymously. That has only made it more possible for them to do harm.

"There is no effective law enforcement for financial cybercrime today," says Herjavec. "Organizations need to increase their defenses and become more resilient because there is no end state in sight for this growing cybercrime epidemic.

"So long as there is a way for cybercriminals to get paid, with limited risk, attacks will continue."

Robert Herjavec at Iconic in Seattle on April 5, 2016.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Robert Herjavec at Iconic in Seattle on April 5, 2016.

Unfortunately, the only way to be safe from cyber crime is to live completely offline. "There is no such thing as perfect security," says Herjavec.

That said, there are steps you can take to decrease your likelihood of being attacked, the first of which is understanding that you are vulnerable.

Here are the best ways for consumers to minimize that vulnerability, according to Herjavec.

Avoid public wi-fi

"Public wi-fi is exactly that: Public. Don't do your personal banking or private stuff in a public place," says Herjavec. In particular, do not complete financial transactions on public wi-fi.

Look for "https://" if you are doing anything financial

If a url begins with "https://" rather than "http://," then that connection meets the basic "SSL certification" level of encrypted security.

Be suspicious when asked to reveal personal information

"For any website or app, don't give away key information that you don't think is relevant," says Herjavec. For example, "If a camera app asks for financial data, be cautious and don't download it."

Exercise extreme caution in opening emails

Don't open emails or attachments from strangers. "Hackers are also evolving phishing emails to make it seem like they are coming from someone you do know," says Herjavec. "Don't input any personal information on links from emails you're not sure about."

And even if you recognize the sender, if you think an attachment is suspicious, don't open it before double-checking with the person the email is supposedly from.

"So long as there is a way for cybercriminals to get paid, with limited risk, attacks will continue." -Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of the Herjavec Group

Here are best ways for small business owners to minimize their vulnerability.

Educate your employees

Particularly if your business requires employees to work on their own technology, training employees is critical, says Herjavec.

Set cybersecurity rules and practices

Entrepreneurs "should also put in place proper cyber etiquette from the very beginning so that as the business grows, their cybersecurity program can continue to scale," says Herjavec.

Grant security clearance conservatively

"For small businesses, make sure only employees who need access to certain data have it, especially if employees are wearing more than one hat," says Herjavec. "This is a good way to mitigate insider threat risk on smaller teams."