Cybersecurity has never been more important than it is now. With the rise of remote working alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber-attacks and breaches have only increased. That's why, whether on a personal or a business level, it’s important to prioritize the protection of your online presence.
This article aims to help you increase your ability to protect yourself against different cyber-attacks.
1. Keep Your Software Up to Date
Why should I update to the latest version?
Software updates contain new features, fixes for bugs and performance improvements. Thus, by upgrading to a new version, you will get better software.
One more important reason to update your software is to iron out security issues. With time hackers become aware of vulnerabilities in software and old versions of software can become a gateway into your network for hackers.
Usually, software developers become aware of these vulnerabilities and fix them in new versions of the software.
Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
1. Make sure your desktop web browser uses automatic security updates.
2. Turn on automatic system updates for your device.
3. Update your third-party apps regularly.
4. Keep your drivers up to date.
It’s also important to that non-cloud-based software is updated to the latest version or edition.
Additionally, make sure that you also install anti-virus software on your device. Installing anti-virus will help combat different cyber-attacks. The software needs to be active and, if it's up to date, should prevent digital security threats before they even happen.
2. Use a Password Management Tool
First of all, don't use the same password for all of your accounts. It is understandable that you may want to only remember one or two passwords for all your logins, but if a hacker gets one they get all of them. Using a password management tool can help you.
When you create your password make sure to choose something easy to remember with a minimum of 8 characters that uses as many of the techniques below as possible.
1. Use a mix of alphabetical and numeric characters.
2. Use an upper and lowercase. Remember passwords are case sensitive.
3. Use symbols if the system allows
4. Use a combination of letters and numbers, or a phrase like "different spaces" using only the consonants.
If you want to save a hint to help you remember which password you have used for which login, save the password requirements for that platform in a word document. For example, if the password must have one upper case letter and one symbol, you will more easily remember which password you used to fit that criteria without risking any sensitive information being leaked.
Another option is to use a password manager. A password manager is a software that saves all your passwords in one convenient location with one master password. The advantage is that you don't have to remember the login information for any of your websites anymore. Having one place for all your passwords also makes it easier should your information become compromised. You only have one place to go to make changes.
LastPass is a great password management tool for individuals. LastPass is free, easy to use, supports all major platforms and has a wide range of features.
3. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds another layer of protection to your data by requiring additional verification of a user's identity. Normally you would only need to enter username and password to log into your account. With two-factor you will be asked to enter an additional authentication method such as Personal Identification Code, one more password, or in some cases a fingerprint.
The only difference between 2FA and MFA is that with MFA you are asked to enter more than two additional authentication methods after entering your username and password.
Hackers can easily hack your password, but obtaining your phone or you MFA token at the same time is more challenging. This is why implementing authentication in your accounts is very important.
For this purpose, you can use the Google Authenticator app. Google Authenticator is a free security app that can protect your accounts against password theft.
Here is how you can set it up:
1. You need to download Google Authenticator from either the Apple App Store or the Android Google Play store.
2. After downloading the app, you need to set up two-step verification on your Google account. In your Google account. Under "Security and Sign-In" select "Two-Step Verification", scroll down to select the "Authenticator app" option.
3. Select your phone, Android or iPhone.
4. Open the Google Authenticator and tap the plus button. Two options will show up, "Scan barcode" and "Manual entry." You only need to choose one of these options to complete the process. Using "Manual Entry" means that Google will send you a 16-digit code to an e-mail address. You then enter the code to complete the verification process.
5. Make sure that the "Time Based" option is ON.
Every time that you log in to the account that you connected with the authenticator app, the account will ask for the verification code. For that, you just need to open the authenticator app and generate the new code. In this way, your account is not only protected with two-factor authentication, but with the added security of Google's six-digit authenticator code.
4. Avoid Phishing scams
Phishing is one of the most common online scams. But what is phishing exactly? Phishing is a social engineering attack used to steal user data. Hackers use emails or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. Phishing emails may look like they are from a company you know (a bank, a credit card company, an online payment website, etc.).
According to Round Robintech, over 75% of targeted cyberattacks start with an email.
What can you do to stay safe?
1. When you get an email check to see if it's real.
2. Never click on the links provided. You can check the url and see if the domain provided is the same as the company you see online.
3. If someone wants you to log in via a link, go to their website on your own first and log in from there.
4. If you are not sure, call the company or organisation using an official number on their website and ask about the e-mail you received.
5. Use Multi Factor Authentication.
6. Back up your data and make sure those backups aren’t connected to your home network.
5. Use Your Mobile Devices Safely
Your mobile device could be a target to more than 1.5 million new incidents of mobile malware.
Here are some quick tips to secure your phone:
1. Choose a difficult passcode, and don't use your birthday!
2. Install Apps only from trusted sources (like the official Apple or Google App Store). Don't install applications from other third-party-sources via your phone.
3. Update your device. As we said before, hackers use vulnerabilities in older operating systems so make sure you're running the latest operating system.
4. Activate Find my iPhone or the Android Device Manager to prevent loss or theft. In case you lose your phone you can also delete or block it from these two platforms.
6. Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi
Be careful and don't public Wi-Fi without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). If you use a VPN, the traffic between your device and the server is encrypted. This makes it more difficult for a hacker to obtain access to your data on your devices.
Another tip would be not to share anything private while you are connected to a public Wi-Fi. Do not check your emails or any other private services, and disconnect from the public Wi-Fi immediately when you find the information you needed.
The best way to avoid public Wi-Fi safety threats is to not use it at all. Alternatively, we recommend using a cellular data connection.
7. Don’t Save Payment Information
One thing that you need to understand is that security breaches happen all the time, even with different measures in place. That's why you should never save your payment information in websites or apps. After all, if a security breach happens, there’s nothing to steal if your credit card isn’t saved on the website.
Storing your payment information online will put you at increased risk of your card information being stolen and criminals using it for fraudulent purchases. Manually entering your payment information when you want to buy something online reduces the chances of your account details being compromised.