October was Cybersecurity Awareness Month. While it’s always important to have good technology habits, it’s now more critical than ever. Cybercrime is on the rise around the world, and nobody wants to be a target. Criminals will try just about anything to gain unauthorized access to accounts and a single breach can leave anyone scrambling to recover. Sadly, cybersecurity best practices are often overlooked by many users because they don’t understand the scale of the threats surrounding them. The following are our top 5 cybersecurity tips to keep you, your data, and your devices as safe as possible.
- Practice Good Cyber Hygiene
Cyberattacks pose a risk to everyone, no matter their age, location, or experience level. Don’t think you are immune just because nothing has happened to you yet. Practicing good cyber hygiene means getting into the habit of being cautious and proactive when it comes to technology use. Beware of phishing emails and messages from strangers asking for you to share account login information for any reason. Avoid malicious websites which involve gambling, unlicensed gaming, pornography, and peer-to-peer streaming. Keep your system firewall on at all times, and install reliable antivirus and antimalware software to scan for threats regularly. Also, use lengthy passwords which are hard to guess, and keep all applications, web browsers, and operating systems updated to avoid falling victim to unpatched vulnerabilities.
- Apply Password Management
You probably know it’s a bad idea to repeat passwords for multiple accounts. However, that doesn’t stop most people from doing it. In the event of unauthorized access, having different logins for your accounts will prevent hackers from causing continuous harm. Strong, unique passwords are at least 8 characters long and contain a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid common words and phrases like public names and dates which can be easy to guess. We recommend changing your passwords at least once every few months, depending on the type of account, and immediately after any suspicious activity is detected.
- Deploy Two-Factor Authentication
In addition to tough passwords, two-factor authentication (2FA) provides even more protection against cybercriminals. This process requires at least two separate inputs from different sources to access an account and most platforms encourage their users to apply it. Accounts with 2FA enabled cannot be unlocked without both the proper login credentials and a time-sensitive code, meaning that even if someone has your password, it is useless without the correct code.
- Maintain Physical Security
It can be easy to neglect physical security when it comes to digital devices. Yet, any piece of hardware is capable of being hacked if left unlocked and unattended. It’s always a good idea to lock up and password-protect every device you own, even personal laptops and smartphones. If you do need to leave, even for a moment, be sure to log off or shut down devices to deter others from accessing your files, emails, and accounts. Also, avoid writing down logins on sticky-notes and don’t leave sensitive data on unsecured external drives.
- Back Up Important Data
No matter how careful you are, data breaches and system failures can happen to the best of us. Regularly backing up valuable data is one of the best cybersecurity habits for everyone to help reduce their risk. That way, if a device becomes unusable for any reason, all is not lost. This is often a requirement for many industries, especially those that handle healthcare or credit card information. Cybercriminals will often use ransomware, a type of malware which locks users out of their devices, to try and coerce funds from individuals and organizations. Simply backing up your most critical files on a private cloud server or secure external hard drive at least quarterly can prevent disastrous losses if devices are damaged or compromised.
Observing cybersecurity best practices is no longer optional. With the expanding threat landscape and growing number of internet-connected devices, cybercriminals have endless opportunities to exploit their victims. If you’re concerned about your data, devices, or networks, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. We’ve helped dozens of organizations improve their security posture, and we can certainly help you.