Here’s Why You Should Stop Ignoring That Update Notification On Your Phone
Do you know right now what hardware and software is on your network and where it is? More importantly, do you know where your most important data is located and who can access it?
Chances are you don’t know and it is this gap in knowledge that cyber thiefs try to take advantage and exploit to their benefit.
As technology develops at an exponential rate, so have the frequency and severity of cyberattacks around the world. Individuals are targeted by scammers and hackers seeking to gain access to your personal information and data – and money. As a result, cyber hygiene has become a key method for creating a more secure and safe digital environment.
Why cyber hygiene is important
So what is cyber hygiene exactly? Much like how an individual engages in certain personal hygiene practices to maintain good health and wellbeing, cyber hygiene practices can keep your personal data safe and protected.
Today, both personal and business networks include an array of computers, servers, databases, virtual machines, mobile devices, operating systems, applications, and tools, all of which are potential attack vectors for hackers. I
f these are not regularly and properly maintained, your network will grow ever more vulnerable over time as malicious hackers discover more ways to gain access to your devices.
How do you practice good cyber hygiene?
1. Do not visit suspicious websites
You might be tempted to go looking for ways to get free software, games, or movies, but be warned that this is very risky behaviour. These malicious websites can often look like legitimate websites.
However, upon visiting, it might start to download malware and cause you any number of headaches. If you are unsure about the authenticity of a website, then it might be best to avoid visiting it.
2. Enable 2FA
Two-factor authentication (2FA) helps to reinforce your security by requiring two methods to verify your identity. The 2nd part of the authentication process will usually be sent to your email or cell phone. It helps to protect against phishing, social engineering and password brute-force attacks.
3. Don’t click on attachments in emails without first verifying the sender
Similar to suspicious websites, links from emails or unfamiliar numbers should be verified. You have to make sure that the sender does not have any malicious intent. Many phishing emails and messages will often masquerade as legitimate entities. As such, you need to familiarise yourself with how legitimate senders communicate in order to spot red flags.
4. Ensure all your software is up to date
While hackers are always finding new ways to compromise their victims’ data, software developers are also constantly updating their programs to combat them.
As such, every new update or patch can be crucial in plugin potential security loopholes. To ensure maximum security, regularly check to see if your security software is up to date.
5. Minimise sharing personal information
There are certain pieces of personal information you should never, ever post online. These can include things such as birthdays, home address, place of work, IC and driver’s licence numbers, or current location.
Basically anything that could be used to prove that you are who you say you are. Many online quizzes like those that ask you to create a fancy name based on your birthday are often used by cybercriminals to harvest information.
Risks of poor cyber hygiene
The results of poor cyber hygiene can cause a domino effect throughout your devices and network environment, resulting in multiple security vulnerabilities and potential attack vectors. Some of these include:
Ransomware is extortion software that can lock your computer and then demand a ransom for its release. The ransom is usually paid for in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, although there is no guarantee that the criminals will actually unlock your computer if you do as they say.
Keyloggers are activity-monitoring software programs that record everything that you type. This kind of cyber risk allows hackers to get ahold of your passwords and credit card numbers.
3. Social engineering attacks
These attacks often involve human interaction and psychological manipulation to trick victims into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information.
This is similar to the traditional phone call or Macau scam. The perpetrators will use all the personal information that they have harvested to trick you into giving them money or access to your accounts.
4. Someone literally breaking into your house
Remember when we said that you should not share your personal information so easily? This is one of the reasons why. Something like sharing your location on social media can have dire consequences if you’re not careful.
Imagine going on holiday overseas. You are excited to let all your friends know, so you post your location on Instagram or Twitter. Some people with malicious intent might be able to then look up where you live and decide to break into your home while you are away.
Know what needs to be protected
One of the biggest challenges of implementing good cyber hygiene is simply knowing what needs to be protected in the first place. Thanks to the convenience provided by modern devices, much of our critical data is often hidden from us. This makes it hard to protect, as most people might not even be aware of them.
It is of utmost importance to know what hardware and software is on your network and where it is, as well as where your most important data is located and who can access it.
Remember, these are not one off methods. Good cyber hygiene means building up good habits over time through repetition. You can never be too complacent in this day and age. If you set up your computer and other devices with reputable antivirus programs, update them regularly, create strong passwords, and keep everything clean regularly, you will be on your way to creating cyber habits that may help keep you safe and secure online.