Every day we hear about new cybersecurity breaches. Earlier this summer, the WannaCry virus demanded ransom as it infected thousands of business computers worldwide. A month later, a similar virus spread, this time with the purpose of disruption rather than for ransom. Cybersecurity is not just a huge concern for business owners, it affects everyone.
However, there are simple steps that we can take to help protect against computer breaches. These are commonsense, but most of us still have trouble doing them. Cybersecurity protection needs to become a routine; something to which we are constantly vigilant.
You have heard it many times. Yet most of us just put it on our “to do” list and never get around to doing it. Change and update your passwords frequently. Many security breaches do not happen because of outside hacking. They happen because we leave our passwords laying around or voluntarily give them to someone we shouldn’t have.
Never give your passwords to anyone else – in my opinion, this includes even people you trust, such as your spouse and children. Even if they are trustworthy, they might not be as vigilant as you in protecting the passwords. I discovered this one day when I found a post-it note with my Amazon password stuck to my son’s computer monitor.
If you are going through the effort of updating a password, make sure it is a strong password that contains both upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t use birthdates or other obvious passwords.
When available, use two-factor authentication. This adds another layer of security to your online accounts. Typically, you would enter your username and password as usual, and then be required to enter another security code that is sent to your phone.
Lastly, add passwords to your mobile devices.
While there are ways to make internet surfing on public wi-fi sites more secure, it is probably best to avoid using unsecure public internet to access sensitive sites, such as your bank account. Wait until you get home on a secure network.
Software providers are constantly releasing new updates which include security advances. The WannaCry virus took advantage of users who had failed to update their software. Also, always run the most current security software on your computers.
Phishing occurs when fraudulent emails are sent with the goal of obtaining sensitive data or money. Criminals have set up complex businesses to try to scam people. They send out legitimate looking emails enticing you to click on a link, perhaps to introduce a virus or to install spyware on to your computer. Avoid opening emails or downloading files unless you know for sure that it is legitimate. Remember, anybody can get scammed. Elderly people are often targeted because scammers rely on their generation’s lack of tech savvy.
Cyber-criminals can obtain much information through social media sites. They often use this information for identity theft. Be mindful of the information you post online, not only about yourself, but about your family and friends as well. There are often viral posts going around on social media that trick people into giving up valuable information. For example, a month ago there was a post going around asking people to list 10 concerts they have attended. The instructions read that one of the 10 was supposed to be a lie. The post urged your friends to guess which one was the lie and then repost on their page with their list of concerts. Sharing this kind of information can be dangerous because often you are giving up answers to security questions that are meant to protect your passwords on various sites; questions such as “What was the first concert you ever went to?”.
Back Up Data
Whether your data is corrupted by malware or by accident, having a back-up can bring relief and peace of mind. You can back-up your data on the cloud using Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, etc. If you want to take an extra level of precaution, you can purchase an external hard drive and back up your data there. Since it is not on a network and it is not connected to your computer, it is a safe place to back up your information.
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