10 Cybersecurity Tips to Increase Safety and Awareness
We all love the many forms of connectivity offered to us through our devices and the internet, but the truth is, there are significant threats to our privacy as we store information online and on our connected devices. It’s vital that you protect your information, while still having access to the connectivity that the world so relies on today. Here are 10 cybersecurity tips that will increase your awareness and safety.
- The obvious, but cannot be stated enough: choose secure passwords.
We have a recent blog post specifically dedicated to password management, but here are a few highlights that should be mentioned again. Create a long password. The longer the password, the better, and you can add an extra layer of security by varying up the types of characters you use in your passwords. It should still be easy to remember, so you can use phrases or words you can recall, while still utilizing special characters and numbers to increase security. An added security measure when it comes to passwords is variety, and managing that variety with a password manager–these points will be addressed shortly.
Avoid sharing your passwords with anyone else. There’s a reason you’re building a combination of characters that nobody would guess—don’t go giving it away to anyone.
- Review your passwords, and choose the highest levels of security across your accounts.
It’s important to use different passwords for different accounts. It can be tempting to use the same password over and over again, but this can be dangerous. If a cyber criminal gains access to one account, and you have reused that password, then the hacker can now access several of your accounts, and an even broader array of your private information.
Also, utilize the highest level of security protections a website offers. Turn on two-factor or multi-factor authentication. Make use of biometric authentication where it’s available (Touch ID, or Face ID). Security questions can too often be answered with information found on someone’s facebook page, but if security questions are the top tier offered, make sure to choose questions with information that is more difficult to find. Lastly, keep your information private, especially on social media. Protect information such as your address, contact information, and even your birth date.
- Use a password manager
There are apps or websites that securely protect and keep track of your passwords. Make sure to do your due diligence before committing to a password manager: double check that it is safe to use. Using a password manager can allow you to maintain different passwords across your accounts without worrying about losing access to them because of a forgotten password.
- Have a backup plan!
Backup all of your important information—ideally to cloud storage or to an external device. In the event of a cyber attack, it’s important to be prepared. One way to do this is by making sure your information and files can also be found in a safe place, so that nothing can be permanently changed or erased. It’s important to choose reputable sites to backup your data with. Using Dteckt grading information, you can see which organizations are the best at protecting your data–you can sign up for free for Dteckt grading here. Today, cloud storage and external drives are not difficult to find, and are relatively affordable, so take advantage and protect your stored files by having it all backed up regularly.
- Use a VPN
VPN stands for a virtual private network. This means that a VPN can extend a private network across a public network, enabling users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if they were directly connected to the private network. Ultimately, a VPN provides the network user with more privacy and security. Using an unprotected, public network can lead to a whole host of cyber threats. Without a VPN, you may find yourself at risk for theft of personal information, session hijacking, malware distribution, and more.
- Keep your software current
You know those pesky software update notifications that you’re constantly dismissing? Ignoring a software update can actually make your device a target for a cyber-attack. Older software systems can have security holes that hackers can and do take advantage of. Updating your system’s software patches up exploitable holes in its security.
- Disable Bluetooth when you don’t need it and you’re around unknown networks and devices
Hackers can gain access to devices nearby via bluetooth. Using specialized software, they can automatically detect devices equipped with bluetooth. So, when you’re using your devices out in public, consider turning your bluetooth off unless it’s in use. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can never have your bluetooth turned on to connect to your headphones, wireless mouse, etc., but it’s important to be aware of the different forms of cyber attacks that you could be exposed to when in public.
- Be aware of phishing scams!
Phishing is a technique of attempting to acquire sensitive data, like your bank account numbers or important passwords, via fraudulent solicitation emails or website links. It is critical that you remain suspicious of links or emails that you receive from people you do not know. Clicking a link that you are unfamiliar with could lead to downloads of malicious content on your device. Even when a suspicious link appears to come in a message or email from a close friend, it could still be dangerous; if your friend was hacked, they may be spreading the virus to you. A good rule of thumb for odd links: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check online breach reports
When there are large breaches, they are often noted and documented. Our services can help you know if your information has been accessed as part of a breach. If your information was accessed during the breach, it’s most important to immediately change your password and put in place multi-factor authentication measures. If this ever does happen to you, hopefully you’ve already taken our advice and backed up your information so that nothing is lost.
- Be aware of your digital footprint
Your digital footprint is the grand total of all the information about you that exists on the internet. With social media, work from home, online banking, etc., it can be scary to think about just how much information is floating around about you on the internet. Once it’s out there, ultimately, it will always be out there. With that being said, it is vital to be totally aware of your digital footprint. Consider some of these questions:
-How many websites are storing my credit or debit card information?
-Where are you storing important documents online?
-What websites have my full name and date of birth?
Do any websites have access to my social security information?
If you no longer use sites that store your information, consider deleting or deactivating your accounts. This doesn’t necessarily make your information totally inaccessible, but it helps take the target off, and lessens the chance that it would be accessed in a large security breach.
At the end of the day, your private information should remain private. We want to help you store your information conveniently online, while still keeping it safe and inaccessible to hackers and viruses. Remember these cybersecurity tips to help you stay safe online and feel secure!