Everyone should own their role in protecting their information and securing their systems and devices.
There are many steps individuals can take to enhance their cybersecurity without requiring a significant investment or the help of an information security professional. Below are ten tips you can put into action now:
Keep a clean machine
Keep all software on internet connected devices – including personal computers, smartphones and tablets – current to reduce risk of infection from ransomware and malware. Configure your devices to automatically update or to notify you when an update is available.
Use 2-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication (like biometrics, security keys or a unique, one-time code through an app on your mobile device) whenever offered.
Length trumps complexity. A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember.
The best way to manage unique passwords is through a password manager application. A password manager is software created to manage all your online credentials like usernames and passwords. It stores them in a safe, encrypted database and also generates new passwords when needed.
Links in email, tweets, texts, posts, social media messages and online advertising are the easiest way for cyber criminals to get your sensitive information. Be wary of clicking on links or downloading anything that comes from a stranger or that you were not expecting.
If you’re at the office and the email came to your work email address, report it to your IT manager or security officer as quickly as possible. If you’re at home and the email came to your personal email address. Do not click on any links (even the unsubscribe link) or reply back to the email and just delete it. You can take your protection a step further and block the sending address from your email program, too.
Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your laptop or smartphone while you are connected to them. Limit what you do on public WiFi, and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal/mobile hotspot if you need a more secure connection.
Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely. If you have a copy of your data and your device falls victim to ransomware or other cyber threats, you will be able to restore the data from a backup. Use the 3-2-1 rule as a guide to backing up your data. The rule is: keep at least three (3) copies of your data, and store two (2) backup copies on different storage media, with one (1) of them located offsite.
Every time you sign up for a new account, download a new app, or get a new device, immediately configure the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. Regularly check these settings to make sure they are still configured to your comfort.
Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it might affect you or others. Consider creating an alternate persona that you use for online profiles to limit how much of your own personal information you share.
Spam and Phishing: Cybercriminals have become quite savvy in their attempts to lure people in and get you to click on a link or open an attachment.
Online Shopping: It’s important to take steps to protect yourself when shopping online.
Back it Up: Protect yourself against data loss by making electronic copies – or backups – of important files.
Malware, Botnets and Ransomware: The internet is a powerful and useful tool, but in the same way that you shouldn’t drive without buckling your seat belt or ride a bike without a helmet, you shouldn’t venture online without taking some basic precautions.
Romance Scams: It’s well known that people online aren’t always as they appear. However, tens of thousands of internet users fall victim to online romance scams each year, and it can happen to anyone.
Tax Time Safety: Tax season can be a stressful time for many Americans, and while scams are prevalent year-round, there is often a greater proliferation during tax time. Stay safe online while filing your taxes with these best practices, tips, and resources.
Spring Clean Your Online Life: A messy digital life leaves your money, identity, and personal information vulnerable to bad actors. Keep yourself and your family safe online with these quick tips for a spotless digital life.
Vacation and Travel Tips: Stay cyber safe while away from home by following some simple practices to help keep your devices safe and your vacation plans from going awry.