1. Basics first
The basics sound simple, and yet are so significant. Make sure your devices are secure: your computers, smartphones, and tablets. By that we mean, check if you have a comprehensive data security policy. That includes antivirus software, firewalls, and data recovery. To protect data in transit, all connections to your system should be on a secure platform. Emails should be encrypted, and remote desktops should be accessed via a VPN (virtual private network). At the end of the day, preventing security breaches is far less costly than curing it if it happens.
2. Enforce password management
Did you know that weak or stolen passwords account for as much as 80% of attacks? Ensuring that you have strong passwords in force can help lower the chance of those attacks. Today there are password manager applications in use that allow you to generate strong passwords and store them securely, like LastPast. The best password is one that you can remember, but one that will be hard for other people, even malicious programs, to guess. An abbreviated sentence or passphrase is often better than a single word with numbers and symbols inserted. If possible, you can also add 2-factor authentication on most software platforms. Needless to say, everything you would do to protect your computer should be done on your mobile devices also. Update your software whenever possible, use strong passcodes, turn off Bluetooth when not in use, and verify legitimacy before you download anything.
3. Educate yourself
Education is everything, and when considering that human errors and negligence are the major causes of data breaches, it becomes even more important. Keep up to date with the latest security best practices and do your research on how to prevent cybersecurity threats such as malware or phishing scams – it might pay off in the end! In general, it is good to follow the Better safe than sorry guideline. As multiple studies have shown time and again, many data breaches could have been prevented if we had taken better care earlier on.
4. Finding a good connection
Whenever we go online in a public place, e.g. by using a public WIFI connection, we have no direct control over its security. Before providing information, such as your bank account number, be sure that you are using a secure WIFI network – or wait for a better time. Using a secure VPN connection further enables you to have a safe connection between device and Internet server: one that no one can monitor or access the data you are exchanging.
5. Be sceptical
If you receive a link that looks strange from a trusted friend or family member, better contact them to ask if the link you’ve received was sent on purpose. Viruses and other forms of malware often spread because of phishing or social engineering, meaning you click on a link from someone you know. This is when you are tricked into revealing personal or sensitive information for fraudulent purposes. Spam emails, ‘free’ offers, or online quizzes all use these tactics to entice you to click on dangerous links or give up your personal information. Always be wary of offers that sound too good to be true or ask for too much information. Again: better safe than sorry!