In honor of Halloween and the end of cybersecurity awareness month, let’s take a look at some of the best cybersecurity tips to implement into our personal lives!
- Implement Proper Password Hygiene Practices — Be sure to use unique passwords for every site that you have a login for — this is the basis for proper password hygiene. Additionally, be sure to password protect everything that you can. Use passwords that are complex – including letters with varying cases, numbers, and special characters like exclamation points and dollar signs – and be sure to use a different complex password for every different login you have. Do not write down your passwords, as this defeats the purpose of having a password in the first place — it’s like locking your gate and then leaving the key in front of the door. To keep track of your numerous passwords, you can “invest” (there are many free options out there!) in a password manager — a secure online database in which you can keep all of your passwords protected with one complex password (this one, you will need to be sure to memorize). Though it can seem like such a small thing, strong password hygiene is so important to your personal cyber safety.
- Do not connect to unknown networks — While it would be ideal to always be at home or work when we need to connect to the Internet, this is not always the case. We often find ourselves in need of an Internet connection while out and about in public. There are many areas of our lives where complementary Wi-Fi is offered. Though this seems like a nice thing to offer, do not connect to these public Internet connections where no password is given or needed, or a simple password is available for all to see. It is just as easy for a potentially malicious person to gain access to this connection as it was for you to connect as well. Being on the same network as a hacker makes you even more vulnerable to attack, which is why public Wi-Fi is not recommended for those who can avoid it. Many folks use their wireless carrier’s data so that no connection to the Internet is required in order to access Internet-required services. Additionally, many phones offer a hot spot feature where you can essentially use your phone as a Wi-Fi router for your own and trusted family members’ other devices. If you absolutely must connect to an unknown Wi-Fi connection, be sure to use it quickly and do not access any of your financial accounts, as your login information would then be readily available to anyone connected to that network.
- Protect your IoT devices — IoT (Internet of Things) devices have made their way into all areas of our lives today — from the everyday devices such as our smartphones, home security systems, and wearable tech like (smartwatches) to the more complex like IoT medical devices such as glucose and heartrate monitoring. Any device that connects to the Internet is apart of the world of IoT and must be protected just as you would think to protect your laptops or desktops. Protect your IoT devices by implementing the aforementioned password hygiene as well as ensuring your reset the default settings on devices in order to make them less hackable. Only connect these devices to trusted networks and be sure to turn off any unused features so as to better protect yourself and your data.
- Monitor your accounts — We have so many accounts nowadays – from the various social media sites we love to scroll through to our financial sites, work systems, and more! It can feel overwhelming to properly manage these accounts, but there are some simple steps you can take to make this possible and even easy. Firstly, be sure to delete any unused accounts – leaving dormant accounts open leaves you vulnerable to cyber attack or having your data involved in a data breach. You should also be sure to comb through your friends/followers on social media sites every so often so that you can delete any folks who you no longer wish to keep in contact with and to get rid of any bots that may have snuck through the cracks. Keep track of your passwords using a password manager, as mentioned above, and do not log into any of these accounts unless you are connected to a secure network.
- Social Media & Physical Safety — While much of cybersecurity focuses on protecting your online presence there are some risks out there that pose a threat to your and your loved ones in the physical world that you may not think about. When you post about being away from your home on social media during your outing, it lets others know that you are not at home and if you are in a recognizable place or you list the location, it lets them know where you and your family are currently located. This poses a risk to your home and your belongings there as well as has the potential to put you at risk if anyone with malicious intent is at the same place as your outing.