It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 company or a burgeoning startup; the issue of a security breach is a matter of when and not if. The fast growth of the web has seen the increase of cyber-crime as well. It is true that hackers are getting more refined by the second; however, service providers such as Google are continually updating their systems to avert possible risks. For instance, Google informs you whenever you are about to visit a site that has not been secured. There are even plans for their following browsers not to host unprotected websites. Organizations and service providers are going above and beyond to see that we stay safe, however, often we rarely properly play our roles in ensuring we stay protected. Again, it does not matter whether yours is a corporation, small business, or personal computer, your privacy is vital.
Apply the following tips to keep your information private and your job secure:
1. Always use Antivirus Software
Antivirus programs have come a long way. There was a time that in order to have an antivirus you would have to purchase one for a princely sum. Things have changed; however, you can now download free antiviruses that will keep your device virus-free. As with all things cheap, the free programs do not offer you breach-free protection. Your safest bet would be to buy actual tested-and-proven antivirus programs. Another thing, do not turn off these programs only because you feel that they might be making your computer to run slower. Upgrade your system to accommodate the antivirus comfortably.
2. Use the Least Privilege Principle
Time and again, companies face attacks on their data, information and financial assets. The troubling news is that the majority of these attacks come from the inside. This is due to the protocols that have been set regarding the handling of data. In most organizations, after being hired, an employee is typically given password access to multiple levels. This is what exposes the company to such unnecessary risks.
Your organization would be more secure if they gave the new worker limited privileges and only escalate them when necessary. This will not only mitigate threats from the inside but also bar hackers from accessing your files.
3. Use Strong Passwords
Do not be lazy to the point of having one password as the key to all your entries. This could cost you dearly. Having one password for all your login requirements is akin to having one key that opens all your locks; your privacy and security will only be as strong as your weakest link. Additionally, apart from having different passwords for all your entry requirements ensure that these passwords are regularly updated.
4. Update your Operating System and Software Regularly
I agree you would rather be doing anything else than watching your computer ‘hang’ as it updates its programs and drivers. No matter how unpleasant this may be, updating your software regularly will only benefit you in the long run. This is because software can have bugs which might allow someone to view and manipulate your data, or to control your computer systems. Updating ensures that these bugs are removed.
5. Log off Communal Computers
Public computers such as cybercafés can be quite convenient at times, especially when you are away from home or the office. Though useful, these computers are usually exposed to all types of malware due to the different characters that use them. As an ordinary computer user, however, you might not have the necessary skillset to know whether the computer is infected or not. This means that you should cease from using the computer to handle your business such as emailing and shopping online. The computers could have malware that might access your information.
6. Backup your data
Data backup might seem like a basic security procedure, but one cannot deny its effectiveness. The latest in the line of malware is ransomware; it literally does what the name suggests. Someone might infect your computers with the bug which encrypts all your data; they will then charge you an exorbitant amount for the decryption key. Having all your data backed up could save you from these criminals.
7. Beware of Social Engineering
Remember Troy? Even the strongest defenses can be brought down by simple mind games. You might have the most stringent IT security policies, but this might not protect some of your employees from falling prey to the ploys and tactics of snake oil salespeople. That is what social engineering is all about. These social engineering schemes have been used for years successfully to obtain login details and access to encrypted files. They usually use communication systems such as email and phone to approach your users. This is why you need to:
8. Train and Educate your Users
Ensuring that your users are competent in proper safety practices is half of the job. Seeing to it that they have the necessary skills to detect a phishing email, malware, or any other kind of threat is the other half. If it is in business, regularly have training sessions to teach employees on proper cybersecurity hygiene practices is going to go a long way in guaranteeing that you have minimal security breaches.
9. Do Not Download Cracked or Pirated Software
Leave alone the ethics side of it, which is not okay by any means; cracked software almost certainly always has malware. Back to the ethics issue, if your computer is found with pirated software, you might lose your job or freedom. It is just not worth it.
10. Routinely review your online accounts
Make a habit of reviewing your bank accounts, mobile device accounts, and auction accounts for traces of fraud or charges that you did not authorize. Additionally, ensure that you review your credit report annually to spot any fraudulent additions.
A bonus tip is never to store crucial information on your mobile phone. Phones are an easy target for thieves and cybercriminals. If you have to, ensure that you have the appropriate security measures in place.
Following these ten tips will require discipline and commitment but the benefits far outweigh the discomfort.