You’ve likely heard this statement time and time again – the need for cybersecurity continues to increase year after year. No matter how often we hear that statement, the threat against cybersecurity still remains prevalent, especially in our emails and our local small businesses.
The truth is, almost half of cyber-attacks get directed at small businesses. Even if you use a username generator (such as offered by NordPass) use strong passwords and change them regularly, is that enough to protect people on the internet?
Our world made a significant shift in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The global shutdown forced many businesses to offer remote working to keep their doors open. As you remove workers from the business hub and have them conduct their duties outside the office, you soon understand the demand for cybersecurity. It’s more essential than ever to ensure everyone has adequate protection while online and connecting to a network.
Whether you’re working remotely or surfing the web in your free time, taking steps to stay protected will keep you and your personal data safe. We have a list of ten tips to boost your cybersecurity and remain protected.
1. Understand it can Happen to Anyone
One of the top points that make you vulnerable is the mentality that a hack wouldn’t happen to you. The truth is, anyone can fall victim to a hack at any time. You don’t need to be a big corporation or a celebrity to be a target.
Change your mentality around cybersecurity and hacks. Think of how often you’re deleting junk mail. Chances are at least one of those emails contains links that could compromise your device and steal precious data (like your financial information).
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2. Look for Reg Flags
Although phishing email scams and virus-filled website advertisements are getting more and more sophisticated, there are warning signs to prevent you from getting caught in a virus.
Before clicking on a link in an email, downloading an application, or going to a sketchy website, take a closer look first. Many phishing scams will tell a dramatic story that doesn’t always make sense. If you hover over the website first, you can often find the URL link at the bottom of your browser to confirm that’s where you’re going.
Taking that extra second to look could save your device from downloading a crippling virus.
3. Keep Your Device Updated
Updates are an essential part of remaining safe and protected on the internet with whatever device you’re using. Each time you update your device, it often has new patches to fill in any holes within the device’s security features.
Constant updates can get frustrating, especially if they happen weekly. However, consider the alternative – ignoring the updates and your virus falling vulnerable to the newest virus on the market. Luckily, many devices allow you to set up automatic updates at a particular time of day or night.
4. Download a VPN
For those who connect to public networks frequently, connecting through a VPN (a virtual private network), is an excellent step to take towards cybersecurity.
A VPN creates a virtual tunnel around the connection from your device to the network. That tunnel acts as a protection against anyone or anything looking to gain access to your data as it passes from the device to the network. Without this tunnel, virtually anyone with basic hacking skills could see everything you’re doing, and even gain access to your personal data.
Now, using a VPN isn’t perfect. It’s not 100 percent effective in protecting your connection. However, it’s better than nothing, plus there are other benefits to using a VPN.
5. Keep Your Devices Locked
Sometimes, a hack doesn’t need to be someone on a laptop across the world sneaking into your computer through software and skills. Have you ever left your laptop or smartphone sitting unattended on a table in public? As soon as you walk away with your screen open, your device is vulnerable to anyone around it.
As much as we want to rely on the goodness of individuals, it’s not always the case. Phones go missing. Laptops get swiped off tables. Anything can get stolen if it’s readily available.
Keep your devices locked at all times when they’re not in use. The newest versions of phones and laptops have face and thumbprint recognition, making it much simpler for you to lock it and gain access right when you come back. It’s not worth the risk just because adding a password isn’t the most convenient step to do.
6. Download Antivirus Software
as the popularity of computers and the internet increased, soon, malicious applications and data started to grow. Soon, developers saw an opportunity to offer users a service to protect them from the growing concern of computer viruses.
The first computer virus came to light in 1971 and was known as Creeper. As harmless as it was, it paved the way for newer and more sophisticated versions of the virus to grow, created the issue we have today. Now, we have multiple versions of a computer virus wreaking havoc on computers around the world.
Antivirus software is there to protect every device you install it one from viruses trying to attack it. Not every software is built the same, though. Some prevent you from entering a website while others allow you to enter a safe mode. Other software gives you a daily report of what’s happening behind the scenes when you access the internet.
7. Keep Your Data Backed Up
Backing up your data isn’t just a useful cybersecurity tip, but it’s also a good habit to get into in general. Maybe your device never gets hacked, and your data remains safe. However, what if your computer crashed and you lost everything saved on it? That can happen to basically anyone.
For cybersecurity, though, backing up your data is the best way to ensure you can gain access to your information still. Some viruses can cripple your entire system, causing you to lose everything you had on your computer. With other viruses, the only way to get rid of them is to wipe your device and reinstall the operating system completely. When you do this, you ultimately lose everything.
8. Use Strong Passwords
Passwords are your first defense to keep your accounts and devices safe. When you create an account for something, your password is what prevents anyone from logging on and accessing your information. Without it, you’re basically inviting anyone and everyone to use your account.
There are many tips for using strong passwords. You want to use a long enough password that it’s hard to guess without you forgetting it. Use upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use something that you’ll easily remember, but something that any individual that knows you still wouldn’t guess (for example, don’t use your birthday or the year you were married).
Other tips include using different passwords for different accounts and changing them frequently.
9. Look into Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication
With today’s advancements, you can use more than a password to keep your accounts secured. Two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication is an extra level of protection for your device and your data.
Multi-factor authentication is what it sounds like – it’s additional security mechanisms you use for logging into something. It could be biometrics (thumbprint), a numerical code, or even a phone call to a selected number. Using this service increases the security of anything you use it on, especially if it sends a code to your personal cellphone.
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10. Stay Informed
Lastly, stay informed about the cybersecurity world, and the latest threats is another level of protection. If you’re aware of what is potentially out there threatening your data, you can take steps to prevent anything from happening, rather than reacting to a situation.
Sign up for newsletters that talk about cybersecurity and any new viruses or phishing scams popping up. Read about the latest hack of a large corporation to see if any of your personal information was affected. The more you can stay in the know, the better you can protect yourself.
Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be challenging or filled with complicated steps. Sometimes, the simplest things like your password or downloading antivirus software are enough to keep you protected. However, taking more steps is never a bad thing. Think about what is all on your smartphone or your laptop. Now, imagine if a stranger got a hold of your device. Would they have free access to all the information on it, or would you frustrate them enough to give up because you have additional security steps to get through? A good reminder is if your security efforts annoy you, chances are they would annoy someone who shouldn’t be using your device.
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