As the internet has grown in popularity and usage, it has become more integral to our daily lives. Computers today, are vital to the things we do day to day.
Unfortunately, a lot of computer users are unaware of the many security vulnerabilities related to their systems, and the internet. So as a solution, this article was put together, sharing 11 tips that you can use, and should use, to ensure your system is secure in every way possible.
Back Up Your Data
The most effective and efficient way for you to protect your data is to control who has access to your network and its devices. You need to ensure your vendors, employees or anyone else that may work with you, who may be able to access your more sensitive data, has at least some understanding of cybersecurity procedure.
Protecting the data on your system(s) means carrying out regular backups. This could be offsite, onsite or a series of both.
You may also want to consider encrypting your most sensitive data. Which you’d want to do using the IEC standard.
Use Antivirus and Firewall Protection
Antivirus software is designed to scan, detect and remove malicious files from your system. The way in which it does this may vary, depending on the circumstances your system is in. It’s best to go with an antivirus program developed by a trusted vendor, and you may also want to opt for paid solutions, as they typically come with more features.
A firewall program is designed to complement an antivirus scanner, as it offers security in a different way. Your firewall program will prevent hackers and any other malicious activity over the internet, from occurring. It does this by controlling both ingoing and outgoing traffic to your devices.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is essentially when an additional layer of security is added to an authentication process. This results in the end user having to carry out an additional authentication step, in addition to the usual username and password.
This new step may be an additional password, a fingerprint login, or a personal identification code, sent to your mobile device.
Implement an Action Plan
When you have a comprehensive plan in place, it will ensure you have a response for every situation.
The plan you put together will cover how you notify at-risk customers and employees to a threat. It will also map out exactly how you will investigate such attacks. You also want it to include the exact procedure that will be followed when reporting such an incident to law enforcement.
When an attack does occur, you’ll want to update your plan. You’ll need to look at the situation objectively, and analyse exactly what was learnt, and where you can improve on your previous action plan.
Once you figure that out, you can now modify your plan to be more effective.
Have an Understanding of Phishing Scams
When it comes to security breaches worldwide, phishing scams are amongst the biggest contributors at over 30%. A phishing attempt is when a victim is tricked into giving out sensitive information after clicking through to a clone or fake URL, or when downloading an attachment in an email that is a mask for a malicious file.
Implement Sound Password Management
When it comes to online activity, over the many years, it’s understandable that you’ll have many accounts to many services. With these accounts comes passwords. As a shortcut, some people may decide to reuse the same password over and over.
But for best practices, you should always go with a password management tool. As they can help you create unique and strong passwords for every service you sign up to.
These tools are capable of generating a unique password, automatically entering the login details, and also reminding you, periodically about your need to update your passwords.
When it comes to creating passwords, it’s best to go with at least 10 characters, and mix the characters with numbers and special characters (if supported). Never write your password down anywhere, and update your passwords every 3 – 6 months.
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Test Your Plan
Any time you create an action plan, you’ll want to put it to the test.
A plan that hasn’t been tested, isn’t necessarily a good plan. This is because you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, as you’ll never know whether or not your plan is actually effective. Always carry out regular tests, so that you can identify weak points, and make necessary updates and changes.
Otherwise, your plan will essentially be operating under an assumption that it is without flaw.
Regularly Review Your Accounts
One thing all computer users should do is regularly evaluate and monitor their accounts. This means, ensuring you’re not logged into accounts you’re not currently accessing and you’re regularly updating your passwords.
Cybersecurity is all encompassing, which means, it affects us all, and so, we must take the necessary steps to ensure the security of our systems.
Avoid Public Networks
You should always avoid using public Wi-Fi networks if you can. However, if it’s imperative that you use one, then you should do it behind a VPN or virtual private network.
These VPN programs are designed to encrypt the data sent between the internet server and your system. This makes it difficult for a cybercriminal to intercept and read this data.
Monitor Devices for Unauthorised Access
Make sure your devices are being monitored for any unusual activity. This may include unknown software installations, USB devices, and unauthorised net access. It anything looks out of place, then you should look deeper into it.
Having a password management tool (which I’ve already touched on), will make this process a whole lot easier. As it will create strong, unique passwords that can’t be brute forced or guessed. These tools can also generate complex encrypted passwords.
Don’t Leave Your Devices Unattended
Both the technical and physical security of all your devices are equally important.
If you know you’ll be away from your device for an extended period of time, then you should lock it. If you have an external hard drive or USB drive with sensitive data on it, then it also should be locked. Another thing to note is that you should always encrypt your data when transmitting or storing data.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.
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