Cyber-attacks have become more and more frequent. In 2020, hackers were able to nefariously gain access to Marriott Hotels and 5.2 million records, including personal details.
Next, there was a massive cryptocurrency scam, and finally, Twitter faced a cyber attack wherein influential personalities had their accounts hacked.
In the first two quarters of 2020, data breaches resulted in 36 billion records being illegally accessed (Risk-Based).
But did you know that according to Cybint Solutions, 95% of security breaches are because of human errors?
This means this is clearly an avoidable situation in most circumstances, and everyone – companies, employees, and consumers need to be aware and look out for cybersecurity threats.
Here are seven tips to ensure that your devices are secure –
Tip #1: Use a VPN
Think of a VPN or Virtual Private Network as a tunnel. This connects your local network and an ‘exit node’ in a completely different location which can be in the same country or a different continent. This basically makes it seem like you are in another place and prevents your ISP from accessing your browser history.
The encryption that VPNs use is especially crucial for data security because it does not allow others on the same WiFi network as you from accessing your data.
There are plenty of VPNs out there that you can use, like Proton, NordVPN, or Norton. Once you install it, you can test the connection to make sure it is working.
If you find your VPN not connecting, here’s what you can do. Check your internet speed, TCP, DNS server and if you have antivirus software, disable it.
If neither of these suggestions works, get in touch with support or try a different VPN provider.
Tip #2: Turn on automatic software updates
Software updates aren’t just to make your device run better or remove bugs. Sometimes these contain essential security patches, which is why it is important to download and install these updates automatically.
Tip #3: Use secure browsers
If you use Apple devices, the default browser is Safari which is great for privacy and security. But if you have been using Chrome, know that while security is its strong suit, privacy is not. You may want to switch to Firefox instead, which is known for security and privacy.
Tip #4: Keep your browser plugins updated
Just like your OS, you also want to make sure your extensions are up to date to avoid any security risks.
Tip #5: Be aware of phishing scams
A phishing scam can be carried out through a multitude of ways – phone, call, text, or email and it basically seems like a legitimate contact, but they get your sensitive data out of you and use it to access your financial resources or personal documents.
As a rule, you should never give away any information on an email, phone, or SMS.
Smartphones are more susceptible to these phishing scams because while you can check the sender and email address on a desktop quickly before you open an email, it is not possible to do that on all smartphones.
Avoid even opening an email that you deem suspicious. Do not click on any links or download files if you’re unsure of the source.
Tip #6: Do not use the same or simple passwords for everything
If you are someone that uses ‘password’ as a password, stop. You should also avoid using passwords that can be easily guessed or words that are easily recognizable. With so many passwords to keep track of, it is best to rely on a password manager.
You can use Keychain on Safari or Google’s Password Manager on Chrome. However, Google’s Password Manager only saves passwords. If you want to take it a step further, get an app like Dashlane that also generates passwords for you.
Investing in paid software may seem unreasonable, but in the long run, it pays off. Some password managers also have a VPN, so you get two benefits in one product.
You can test if your data has been breached by entering your email in Avast’s free checker. It will also give you a list of websites where you need to change the password.
Tip #7: Never leave your devices unlocked
All smartphones, tablets, and laptops have a way for you to lock the device so that only you can access it. Set up a password and fingerprint lock and face recognition lock if you have it.
Also, make sure you lock your devices every time you step away from them. On your laptop, you can set a screen saver automatically after 5-10 seconds after a period of inactivity.
Make sure you back up all your data. If you do happen to lose any data because of a cyber attack, you want to be able to retrieve it. Use a combination of local backups and cloud storage services to ensure you have multiple backups.
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