5 Tips for October’s Cybersecurity Awareness MonthOctober 26, 2020 No Comments
Featured article by Cynthia Madison, Technology Pioneer
Are we all addicted to the Internet? Maybe, according to a 2019 digital report from Hootsuite and We Are Social that shows people are spending on average 6 hours and 42 minutes online daily. And, although 6 hours a day sounds like a lot, the figure gets astronomical when you spread it across the entire year, equaling more than 100 days of online time for each of us every year. Now, it isn’t just the increasing time we spend online that is alarming, but also the amount of personal data we share when we surf the web. A 2019 survey found that 58% of Americans are willing to share their most sensitive personal data in return for using apps and online services. So, are we facing a privacy paradox?
Every year, since 2003, during October, the National Cyber Security Awareness Month, everybody is talking about how we can stay safe and secure online. This year’s October is no exception. In fact, in 2020, it is more important than ever to talk about cybersecurity since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a lucrative period for cybercriminals. This month, when everybody is talking about online security, it makes sense for all of us to reexamine our cybersecurity practices and habits to see if there is anything that we can do to protect further the data we share online.
Here are five cybersecurity tips to protect yourself online:
#1 Use an Encrypted Network
Problem: Normally, public and cafe Wi-Fi networks are insecure networks because they are unencrypted. Whether you use a mobile device, a laptop or a computer, hackers could attack your device and get access to your information and online activity.
Consequence: This exposes your private data to cybercriminals who can use packet sniffing attacks to spy on your online traffic.
Solution: Use a VPN to encrypt your traffic so others can’t see it. A Virtual Private Network uses an encrypted connection which protects all the data you share or receive on your device from the eyes of hackers.
#2 Use strong password protection
Problem: Weak passwords can quickly turn into compromised passwords, posing a significant threat to your online security. Sure, remembering the name of your first pet, your birth date, or your mom’s name is really easy. However, you have no idea how easily hackers can find out this information about you and compromise all your accounts. They don’t even have to try to guess because they use a tool that checks for common, predictable passwords, which basically checks millions of character combinations.
Consequence: When you choose a weak password, you are making it easier and faster for hackers to succeed to access your data. Cybercriminals can get access to your email, social media accounts, and more sensitive data such as your financial data.
Solution: To protect yourself from getting your passwords compromised, you need to create strong passwords. How do you do that? By using complex passwords (yes, the more difficult it is for you to remember it, the better the password probably is). Use both lowercase and uppercase letters, special characters, and numbers. Also, if your account service offers this option, use the Two-Factor authentication option to decrease the risk of having your password hacked.
#3 Avoid pop-ups, unknown emails, and links
Problem: Should you click on every link you receive? Absolutely not because you’ll definitely sooner or later become a victim of phishing. Cybercriminals use phishing to create a security breach that will allow them to compromise all your personal data.
They reach out to you through an email, telephone, or even a text message. And, if they do contact you through the email, there’s typically a malicious link there they are waiting for you to open.
Consequence: Malicious links or pop-ups can wreak havoc in your online security if you click on them. They have viruses and malware embedded in them, enabling hackers to infiltrate your computer network and get access to all your private data.
Solution: The best way to protect yourself from a malicious attack is to look out for phishing emails. Also, never share personal information in response to an email, pop-up page, or any other form of communication that you didn’t initiate and seems suspicious.
#4 Use Antivirus software
Problem: Malicious attacks can happen in various ways, not only through clicking a link you’ve received through a suspicious email. Even downloading stuff online can make your device get viruses that can mess with everything you have on your device.
Consequence: There are various forms of viruses, including bugs and worms that are waiting to be deployed in your device and cause some serious damage.
Solution: Use antivirus software to protect your device from malicious attacks. Antivirus software doesn’t just clean the viruses that you already have on your laptop or computer but also serves as protection to ensure that they won’t get into your device’s system.
#5 Protect your mobile devices
Problem: Just like your computer or laptop, your mobile devices are as vulnerable in terms of security. It is essential to use security methods for your mobile devices as well so that cybercriminals won’t be able to hack your device.
Consequence: If you don’t protect your device and leave it at risk of hacking, hackers may access all the data you have in your phone, including accounts, photos, apps, and financial information.
Solution: Use strong passwords, don’t open suspicious links on your phone, don’t allow your phone to automatically connect to Wi-Fi public networks, and make sure you always turn off your Bluetooth after using it.
Every Internet user should know how to keep their data safe and secure when surfing the web. And, with cyberattacks on the rise lately, it has become more important than ever before to be prepared for cyber threats. Having the right knowledge, such as the five tips for cybersecurity we have just shared with you, will help you strengthen your online privacy and security.
Cynthia Madison is a technology pioneer, helping industry members become more tech-savvy so that they can, too, thrive in a highly digitalized world. As a technology expert herself, Cynthia writes about threats to Internet security, sharing various cyber-security tips with her readers, helping them understand how to surf the web safely and stay protected from common cyber threats.