How To Stay Cyber Secure in 4 Easy Steps
Cybersecurity is hot hot hot! And never more so than in the last two years when so much of our lives went online. Because with more time online comes more cyber threats and actual cyber breaches — which, these days, seem like they’re happening a dime a dozen.
Given the onslaught of negative news in the aftermath of, for instance, a major hack, it’s no wonder that people have become overwhelmed and often feel powerless in the face of seemingly insurmountable online threats. And because the field of cybersecurity comes with a lot of jargon and a lot of terminology, there’s a longstanding misperception that it’s too complicated for us mere mortals and instead should be left to the professionals. Most people just end up feeling like breaches are a fact of life and that — for better or for worse — we just have to put up with them.
Fortunately, this isn’t true! We can all play a big role in cybersecurity threat prevention, detection, and remediation. Almost 95% of breaches are due to human error, which means that Joe Blow, Jane Doe, and you are very much the first line of defense when it comes to thwarting cybercrimes. However, many people aren’t aware of how easy it is to boost their cybersecurity.
With that, here are a few things you can start doing today to enhance your cybersecurity and create a more secure world for everyone. Because all for one and one for all!
Think Before You Click
Phishing — when a cybercriminal poses as a legitimate party in hopes of getting individuals to engage with malicious content or links — is one of the most popular tactics among cybercriminals today. In fact, it’s so pervasive that 80% of cybersecurity incidents stem from a phishing attempt.
Annoyingly, phishing attacks have gotten more sophisticated, but if you’re vigilant, you can still stay on top of it! Keep an eye out for typos, poor graphics, and anything else that seems just a little bit off, as these could be signs that the content is potentially “phishy.” And if you think you have spotted a phishing attempt, be sure to report the incident so that internal IT teams and service providers can remedy the situation ASAP to protect others from becoming victims.
Update Your Passwords and Use a Password Manager
Listen, we get it: these days, you need passwords for everything, and remembering them can be a real pain. But if you’re a “password repeater,” you need to be careful, because once a cybercriminal has hacked one of your accounts, they can easily do the same to all your other ones. Password cracking is one of the go-to tactics that cybercriminals turn to in order to access sensitive information. Which makes it a total pain in the you-know-what.
Using unique, long, and complex passwords is one of the best and fastest ways to immediately boost your cybersecurity. And yet: only 43% of the public say that they “always” or “very often” use strong passwords. (Turns out “password123” wasn’t a great choice after all.)
That’s why we recommend using a password manager: it allows you to securely store all of your unique passwords in one place — which means you’ll only ever have to remember the one password to get you into your (virtual) vault. Plus, password managers are incredibly easy to use and make logging in a cinch since they can automatically plug-in stored passwords to the sites you visit.
Multi-factor authentication, which prompts a user to input a second set of verifying information when logging in, can also help protect your accounts. If you’ve enabled MFA (short for multi-factor authentication, not the college degree), you’ll either be asked to provide additional information when you go to log in, be sent a secure code to your cell phone, or be asked to sign-in via an authenticator app. While MFA can’t stop all attacks, it is incredibly effective in reducing the chances of a cybersecurity breach — so if you’re given the option to add MFA to your accounts, it’s a real no-brainer.
Activate Automatic Updates
Even the biggest companies out there can fall prey to hackers. Case in point: in August 2022, Apple announced a security vulnerability and advised its users to update all their devices in order to fix the issue. This is just one example of why keeping your tech up-to-date with the most recent software is essential to preventing cybersecurity issues.
Just as there’s no magic diet pill, cybersecurity, too, is an ongoing effort that requires maintenance. Regularly enabling app and software updates is just another part of that consistent work to keep yourself safe online. So one final pro tip: instead of trying to remember to check for updates or, even worse, ignoring those update notifications, we recommend that you enable automatic update installations whenever possible.
See Yourself in Cyber
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so we encourage you to take a few minutes to protect yourself online. By using a password manager, enabling MFA, activating automatic updates, and keeping your eye out for phishing scams, you’ll be doing your part to lower your risk of being a victim of cyber crime.
Ready to test your basic cybersecurity knowledge? Take our one-minute quiz to show off what you learned and earn 100 Marbles.
This blog post was based off of an article written by the National Cybersecurity Alliance as part of their “Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2022” campaign.