How much thought do you put into opening your Internet browser or connecting to an app?
If you’re like me, not very much.
And that isn’t surprising. Technology has become so ingrained in our lives that Internet connectivity has become second nature.
But unfortunately, we don’t always have control over who comes in contact with our data online. That’s why cyber security is such a priority. The good news is, your technology vendors will do most of the heavy lifting in terms of sophisticated data protection.
But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. By and large, cybercriminals will attempt to access your information using the quickest and easiest methods. With a proactive approach to basic online security, you can keep yourself and your data protected.
Here are a few simple, yet often ignored, ways to reinforce your security foundation.
Develop Better Password Habits
I’ll admit it. There was a point in time when the only password I used to access my online profiles was the word “Password.” It wasn’t until my email began sending spam messages to my entire contact list that I decided to change it.
As far as privacy breaches go, it could have been a lot worse. With weak passwords on my bank accounts and social media sites, I was susceptible to a more damaging attack. That’s why strong password habits are so important.
Strong passwords, if written properly, would take cybercriminals millions of years to decode. So what does a strong password look like? For the most part, they should contain:
- 8 or more characters
- A combination of capital and lower-case letters
- At least one number and one special character
Passwords that follow the above guidelines are obviously strong, but they can be hard to remember. Try using a memorable phrase when creating yours. For example, you can easily write the phrase “the sky is blue” as The_sky_is_blu3.
Install Updates Regularly
From time to time, software, apps, and operating systems will prompt you to download their latest version. I’m not sure about you, but for me, it takes a lot to resist the option that says:
Remind me in 12 hours.
Let’s face it, frequently updating technology can seem like a chore.
It eats up time, slows down your work, or even takes up precious data storage. But these updates are so critical to your online security.
Many, if not all, include patches that fill security gaps and vulnerabilities from known bugs or harmful viruses.
Taking the time to install the latest versions of your apps and software puts you in a much better position to defend yourself against the latest security threats. Don’t believe it? Here are some recent examples:
- Intel Fixes A Security Flaw That Plagued Its Processors For Years
- Apple fixes wireless-based remote code execution flaw in iOS
- Android security: Google’s May update hits bugs with critical patches for Nexus, Pixel
The less you update your phone or computer, the more you put yourself at risk. So make sure you reserve time to download the latest versions.
Avoid Sketchy Emails
Email phishing is a tactic used to access private information for malicious gain. Typically, cybercriminals disguise phishing attacks in presumably trustworthy or credible vehicles – email being a common example.
That’s because targeted email phishing it’s so successful. According to Verizon, 30% of all phishing emails are opened. These emails usually contain some form of malware, which is software used to breach private computer systems to gain access to the data inside.
Recently, a phishing scam involving Google made headlines: Major phishing attack targeted Google Doc users.
Luckily, common sense can take care of a lot of the phishing attacks you may come in contact with. Many phishing emails look sloppy. Scammers rush to upload their communications, so they often have typos and the images are low quality. And usually, the links in their websites are long and convoluted.
Here are a few other guidelines to protect yourself from phishing emails:
- Do not open emails from someone you don’t know or trust
- Do not click links in emails unless you know for sure they come from a legitimate source
- Do not open any attachments in an email you don’t trust
- Report phishing emails to any relevant parties (such as your IT team), or simply delete them from your inbox
Over to You
Don’t make it any easier for cybercriminals to access your private data. Take these three methods to heart, and then pass them on to your clients. Not only will you help them increase their own security online – but you’ll demonstrates that you don’t take online security lightly. That way, everyone wins.