Cybersecurity has become increasingly more important over the years. The more we spend online, the more we create and share things about ourselves.
It’s this data that we do not want falling into the wrong people’s handles, whether it be financial or private information. It’s for this reason, whether you’re an individual or a business that you want to ensure all data is properly protected.
If you’re familiar with the latest tech trends, then you’d have probably already noticed the focus on cybersecurity and privacy. Many large companies like Facebook and Google have been in the news for their new privacy protection practices. The way any organization handles your data is important. And if we look at the past couple of years, there have been an awful number of data breaches.
If your personal information is compromised by a data breach then that personal information is no longer private. Cybercriminals may be able to obtain your information, whether it be banking details or your social security. One of the biggest and most common outcomes of these data breaches is identified theft.
For businesses that have already experienced data breaches, there can be other consequences of that one action. A business could end up losing money, or they could be made to pay in the form of insurance costs, legal fees, and the like. A data breach can also compromise intellectual property or tarnish a brand’s reputation.
Whether you’re a business owner or a random individual it’s important that you think about protecting all your data. If you want to deploy better cybersecurity practices, there are many things you can do; just start small. So, what are the things that you should be aware of, right now? Continue reading for 7 personal cybersecurity tips.
- Use Anti-Virus & Firewall Protection
Antivirus software is still the most common and most popular way of fighting against malicious files and attacks. The right antivirus software can block malware and other kinds of viruses from infiltrating and corrupting or compromising your personal data. For this reason, you’ll want to have an antivirus program installed and running on your system. I suggest you go with something trusted, and only use one antivirus program per system/device/computer.
It’s also important for you to use a firewall program when looking to defend yourself against malicious attacks. A firewall program will help block hackers from carrying out any nefarious activity on your system. It does this by controlling what traffic goes in and out of your device(s).
Both Mac and Windows-based systems come with their own built-in firewall programs, named both Mac Firewall and Windows Firewall. The router you use to connect to the internet should also have its own built-in firewall program. You’re only task is to ensure they’re all enabled.
- Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is essentially a service that adds more layers to your security. This means users will need to enter much more than a simple password to gain access to an online account. With your typical standard authentication, you would expect to enter your username and password.
But with multi-factor authentication, you would be prompted to enter something additional, such as a Personal Identification Code, fingerprint, or secondary password. The number of things you may be expected to enter is only limited by the site owner, so it can be two additional layers or even five.
Studies have shown that SMS delivery is not the best source of authentication, this is because there are a number of mobile phone attacks nowadays. This means such modes of authentication can easily be compromised.
- Keep Your Computer Up to Date
You want your web browser, applications, and Windows operating system to always be up-to-date. If you have a firewall program (which you really should), then you’ll want to ensure it is up-to-date. The older the software is on your system, the more time hackers will have spent, looking for exploits for it. That’s why you want to continuously update it. This way, all known vulnerabilities, and future vulnerabilities will be plugged up.
So, the next time you are notified on your system about an update, be sure to follow through with it.
- Avoid Unnecessary Downloads
One of the most effective methods hackers use to gain access to your network is through downloads. So, one way you can protect both your data and your system is by limiting the things you download. Unnecessary browser extensions should be avoided, along with any programs you’re not 100% on. If you’re a business owner, then you should ensure that all employees must first be given authorization before they can download anything off the internet.
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If you’ve looked over the file/program and are sure it’s safe, you should always go with a custom install, just in case. If you receive an extension or add-on pop-ups during installation, you should decline them.
- Backup Regularly
When it comes to personal online security, backing up your data is something that is regularly overlooked. Most security managers and IT professionals adhere to a simple rule called the 3-2-1 backup solution. Essentially you want 3 different copies of your personal data on two different forms of media (external or local hard drive), and one copy in an offsite location, such as cloud storage.
That way, if your system was to become a victim of a malicious attack such as ransomware, the only way to regain access to your system would be by erasing everything, and restoring it using one of your backup sources.
- Avoid Public Wi-Fi
If you must use a public Wi-Fi network, then you should never do it without a virtual private network (VPN). When you use a VPN tool to access the internet, all traffic between your system and the VPN is encrypted. This means, that even if a cybercriminal was to obtain your data, they wouldn’t be able to decipher it, because of its encrypted nature. Stick with a cell network, in the event that you don’t have a VPN, as it is safer.
- Avoid Debit Card Use Online
Another very important cybersecurity tip entails taking precautions when making payments online. When making any online payments, if you can, you should avoid using your actual debit card. Essentially, you want to avoid using anything that can be tied back to your bank account.
Instead, you should go with solutions that provide additional layers of protection between a would-be hacker and your bank account. This could be a credit card or any one of the many online payment services like PayPal.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website.