Getting familiar with the cyber basics

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so take a look at a few tips you can implement to keep yourself safe online.

At a time when we are more connected than ever, being “cyber smart” is of the utmost importance. This year has already seen more than a fair share of cyberattacks and breaches, including the high-profile attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and other critical infrastructure. Furthermore, as underlined by these recent breaches, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated with more evolved criminals cropping up each day. Luckily, there are several steps that we can take to mitigate risks and stay one step ahead of these cyberthreats.

Enable multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds that necessary second check to verify your identity when logging in to one of your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a criminal hijacks your password. In this way, MFAs make it more difficult for password-cracking tools to enable attackers to break into accounts. Also, with MFA enabled, if you get a notification for authorization and were not expecting the request, then you know someone is trying to access your account allowing you to login and change the password.

Use strong passwords and password manager

This may seem obvious, but all too often securing strong passwords is overlooked. People are spending more time online, and that has contributed to more prowling for accounts to attack. Using long, complex and unique passwords is a good way to stop your account from being hacked. With the need for stronger more lengthy passwords, an easy way of keeping track and remembering your passwords is by using a password manager such as LastPass, KeepPass, etc.

Perform software updates

When a device prompts you that it’s time to update the software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone and ignore the message. However, having the latest security software, web browser and operating system on devices is one of the best defenses against online threats. So, don’t wait – update.

Do your research

Common sense is a crucial part of maintaining good online hygiene, and an intuitive step to stay safe online is to do some research before downloading anything new to your device. Before downloading any new app, make sure that it’s safe by checking who created the app, what the user reviews say and if there are any articles published online about the app’s privacy and security features.

Check your settings

Be diligent to double check your privacy and security settings and be aware who can access your documents. This extends from Google docs to Zoom calls and beyond. For meetings on Zoom, for example, create passwords so only those invited to the session can attend, and restrict who can share their screen or files with the rest of the attendees.

Being “cyber smart” and maintaining stellar online hygiene is the best way to protect yourself and others from cyberattacks. No single tip is foolproof but taken together, they can make a real difference for taking control of your online presence. By taking preventive measures and making a habit of practicing online safety, you can exponentially decrease your odds of being hacked – and prevent lost time and money, as well as frustration.