By all means, fire up the barbeque, watch some fireworks, fly the flag high, and prepare to enjoy this special holiday (all from a socially safe distance of course), but don’t ignore your cybersecurity either because cyber criminals are certainly not going to ignore you. The more than four billion users and billion plus websites that are regularly and continuously sharing information comprise an attack surface simply too large and too tempting for them to ignore. And with the never-ending evolution of malware infection strategies, payload delivery methods, and tactics for avoiding detection, they’ve got the means too. Sounds ominous and it is. The good news, however, is that you’ve already taken the first step towards better cybersecurity: awareness.
Forewarned is forearmed
Humans are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain; 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. Furthermore, lack of awareness of cybersecurity is a leading cause of breaches due to human error. Thankfully, this is easily fixed. Improving awareness and obtaining a basic understanding of the different cyber threats and how to recognize and avoid them will go a long way towards improving your digital safety. It is indeed your first step towards cybersecurity.
The second step: going from cyber aware to cyber secure
Happily, going from just being aware to actually being secure isn’t difficult. It involves some basic, but easy-to-implement cyber defense measures that once implemented and followed will help secure and protect your digital privacy.
Physical security of devices
It’s easy to forget that cybercrime can start with physical theft too. It doesn’t have to be online. Cyber criminals can steal your personal or company data by physically stealing paper documents, mobile devices, laptops, etc., so you must take measures to protect these items accordingly. For example, don’t leave your electronic devices unattended at work or in public, and if you have to leave them, lock them up in a filing cabinet or with a cable lock. If you print a document that has confidential information, don’t leave it lying around; make sure to pick it up from the printer and take it with you. When you’re finished with it, shred it before it’s shared with the wrong people. Even whiteboards should be erased when you’ve finished using them. Sometimes they can have information written on them that hackers could use to their advantage.
Install powerful anti-virus protection
Today’s threatscape is a constantly evolving and dangerous quagmire of known and emerging, or zero-day cyber threats and no system can be fully protected without powerful ant virus protection. Advanced anti-virus protection includes signature-based detection as well as behavioral and heuristic-based detection so that it is capable of detecting and eliminating both known and zero-day threats. The best antivirus solutions will also include protection from ransomware, unwanted software, malicious websites, and phishing attacks, as well as microphone and camera protection.
Follow proper password protocol
While they may be inconvenient, passwords help keep your computers and your data secure and away from prying eyes. However, poorly chosen passwords or shared passwords make them essentially useless. In order for passwords to do their job, they need to comply with some basic password security protocol. Passwords should have at least 8 characters, but the longer the better, include a mix of upper and lower case letters as well as different symbols, and be unique for each account. In addition, passwords shouldn’t be composed of common names like sports or movies or pet names and they should never, ever be shared.
Don’t ignore software updates
Software updates, much like passwords, may seem inconvenient, but they’re critical to your digital safety and cybersecurity. They often contain critical patches to security holes in your software that hackers are keen to target. Ignoring updates puts your devices and data at risk and exposes them to cyber attacks. Bottom line? Ignore them at your own peril.
No time off during the holidays
And, in case you were tempted to think otherwise, know that hackers and malware don’t observe holidays; not the 4th of July, not Christmas, not Thanksgiving, not any holiday. On the contrary, holidays are actually ripe for cyber attacks. There are more users making holiday purchases online, browsing the Internet, sending and receiving emails, and making online video calls in order to send holiday wishes. All of this adds up to a greater attack surface and more opportunities for hackers to steal credit card credentials, spy on user activity, target users with phishing campaigns, and listen in on private meetings and conversations.
So beware and be aware
Be very aware. The presence of malware on your computer can lead to significant privacy and financial loss. Awareness of cyber threats and how to defend your computer and data is crucial to your cybersecurity. Conversely, a lack of awareness makes your cybersecurity inherently unsustainable. So remember; practice vigilant cybersecurity; implement the cybersecurity measures discussed above and be aware. And then have a happy and safe 4th of July.