The internet can be a risky place, and with cyber threats lurking around every corner, there’s no better time than Cybersecurity Awareness Month to get your digital defenses up to scratch.
Here are some handy tips for dealing with the most common cybersecurity threats out there.
Nowadays, cybercriminals have tools that can crack simple passwords in the blink of an eye, so creating strong, unique passwords for wherever you have a digital footprint is crucial.
Using a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters can make your password harder to guess—let’s be honest, “password” just won’t cut it anymore (even for the 19% of you who still refuse to update it).
If keeping track of complex passwords sounds like a headache, consider using a password manager. These handy tools store and auto-fill your passwords on all your devices, so you only have to remember one strong master password.
And don’t forget to change your passwords regularly! Even strong passwords become more vulnerable as hacking methods evolve.
Phishing is a deceptive tactic where hackers pose as trustworthy sources to trick you into sharing personal information or clicking on malicious links.
Phishing is still a big deal, especially on our cell phones. In fact, 2022 saw the highest rate of mobile phishing ever, according to security provider Lookout.
It’s not just sketchy emails anymore; hackers are using all sorts of methods like phone calls, texts, and even QR codes to trick you into giving away your info.
These hackers often pretend to be from companies you know and trust. Microsoft is their favorite disguise, but they also use names like Amazon, Google, and DHL to make their scams look legit.
So, be cautious and double-check before clicking on anything that seems even a little bit suspicious.
Social Media Security
Social media is great for staying connected, but it’s also a playground for hackers, identity thieves, and real-world criminals.
Privacy settings are not just there for show. Take a moment to review and tighten them up. Ensure you’re not sharing your posts, location, or personal details with the entire internet, or you risk inviting strangers into your personal space.
Oversharing on social media is another pitfall. Posting every detail of your life, from your morning coffee to your evening plans, might seem fun, but it gives hackers clues they can use to impersonate you, answer security questions, or worse. And wait until you get home to post that family vacation selfie—otherwise, one quick scroll through your Instagram is all burglars need to find out if you’re away.
Plus, the combination of AI and facial recognition is advancing rapidly—malicious actors can now use your face to create (less-than-flattering) deepfake videos. So, think twice before sharing high-resolution photos, especially in public forums.
Public Wi-Fi is convenient, but you never really know who else is connected to it. Avoid accessing sensitive information like your bank account because hackers could lurk on the same network, ready to intercept your data.
At home, Wi-Fi security is the brick wall around your digital life at home, so make sure it’s sturdy. First thing’s first, that default admin login and password that came with your router? Change them. Keeping the factory settings is like leaving your house key under the doormat.
Opt for a robust encryption method like WPA3 if your router supports it. Also, consider setting up a guest network for visitors. This way, they can connect to the internet without gaining access to your devices and files.
Plus, smart home, “internet-of-things” devices like Alexa speakers, Ring doorbells, and even refrigerators can now be a gateway for hackers if not properly secured. It’s all about creating multiple layers of security to keep your home network fortress impenetrable.
Regular Software Updates
Keeping everything up-to-date is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to protect yourself since software updates often contain critical security patches that fix vulnerabilities hackers could exploit.
If you’re using your personal laptop for work, software updates become even more critical since ignoring them could pose a risk to your company’s data.
Make it a habit to install updates as soon as they’re available, and if your company has specific security protocols for remote work, follow them to the letter.
Remember, hackers love to prey on outdated software. So, the next time you see that “Update Available” notification, don’t put it off; take a few minutes to update and give yourself some peace of mind.
It’s Cybersecurity Month, so why not make cybersecurity a daily practice with these tips?
- Stop using “password” for everything; start using secure passwords. Use a password manager to make this easy.
- Don’t get phished! Double-check before clicking on (or scanning) anything that seems suspicious.
- Avoid oversharing on social media and keep your privacy settings on lockdown.
- Don’t access sensitive information using public Wi-Fi—your next hacker could be sipping Pumpkin Spice next to you.
- Update your software whenever possible. Keep it secure and carry on!