In our ever-evolving and increasingly connected world, Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a good reminder to put extra energy and attention into protecting your devices and data from cyberattacks. With cyber and ransomware attacks on the rise for individuals, businesses and government entities, are you doing all that you can to stay safe? If you aren’t quite sure, our list of the most effective cybersecurity safety tips will help you feel confident that you are safe from cybercriminals.
1. Keep Software Up to Date
Are you fed up with all the software update notifications you get? How many days in a row can you hit "Remind Me Tomorrow" on autopilot? Well, you should not wait for tomorrow. Operating systems, apps and other software are constantly being updated by developers to address security issues. The best thing you can do is set your devices to automatically update in order to protect your information. And when it comes to software, your antivirus program is the most important one to maintain. Make sure that you install reputable antivirus software and run it regularly to remove potential threats from your devices.
2. Make Your Network Secure
If your network isn’t secure, you are an easy target for hackers. The more added layers of security you have in your network, the better. The most basic yet effective tips are:
Use a Network Firewall
Think of a firewall as the first line of defense in protecting your devices and data from security threats. A firewall acts to block unwanted traffic from accessing your network. Without one, an attacker could access your devices and personal data or even shut down your network.
Secure Your Router
The router is a key component in your network, and if it is not properly secured, it can pose a serious security risk. To secure your router, never use the default name and password provided by the manufacturer. Change it to a unique name and password during setup. Turn off remote management and log out as administrator after completing the setup process. When purchasing a router, look for one with WPA2 or WPA3 encryption.
3. Use Strong Passwords
Remembering a different password for your phone, tablet, laptop and all of your other devices is a lot to ask, but it’s not a place to get lazy. Protect all of your devices with a strong password that contains a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Change your passwords regularly and never share or use the same password twice. The same goes for any online accounts you may have.
For an added layer of protection, use two-factor authentication. Also called 2-step verification, this requires a password as well as another factor, such as a code sent to your phone, or a fingerprint, in order to gain access to an account or device.
4. Only Visit Trusted Websites
Clicking random links and visiting questionable websites is a great way to pick up a virus on your device. It is no coincidence that one of the slogans of European Cybersecurity Month in 2021 is #ThinkB4UClick. Only visit trusted and reliable websites and use extra caution when shopping online. Spotting a fraudulent website is easy with the right advice.
5. Back Up Your Data
Back up your important files regularly on an external hard drive or on a cloud to protect yourself from losing important data to hackers. There is really no excuse not to do this, especially when you can do it automatically. Have you ever heard anyone say that they wish they didn’t back up their files?
6. Practice Good Cyber Hygiene
Cyber hygiene means being proactive about protecting yourself from cybercrime. This means making it part of your regular routine, just as you do with your own personal hygiene. Mark your calendar or set an alarm to remind you to complete basic cyber hygiene tasks that we mentioned before, like changing your passwords, scanning for viruses, updating your operating system and backing up your data. Regular and consistent actions will go a long way to protect you from potential threats.
While protecting yourself from a cyberattack sounds like an overwhelming endeavor, our simple list of tips to prevent cybercrime is a great place to start. So, #BeCyberSmart and make keeping your data and devices safe a habit. Want more? Read further about safe online payments and shopping securely on your mobile phone in our previous articles. And stay tuned to the coming ones because all October, we are joining the cause of Cybersecurity Awareness Month.