Top 10 Best Cybersecurity Practices to Follow Each Day
Do you leave your car unlocked after parking it? Or maybe you go to bed without locking your front door? You don’t, do you? Because, after all, it is much better to be safe than sorry.
The same logic can be applied to your information, i.e. your private data. Your information can be shared across the Internet easily at the speed of light. In fact, someone halfway across the world can steal your data without batting an eye.
The online world is a dangerous place that all of us must navigate. Poor security practices can put your data — and by extension, you — in the hands of some very shady people who will not hesitate to harm you.
Be it managing a website or keeping your devices protected, safe security practices are an essential facet of life in the 21st century. It’s time to pay closer attention to what safe cybersecurity practices in the digital world mean to you.
What is Cybersecurity and Why Does it Matter?
Cybercrime cost the world $6 trillion in 2021, By 2025, this amount is expected to increase to $10.5 trillion. Though the Internet allows us to access a whole trove of information and resources, it also allows malicious entities to target us. And this goes far, far beyond getting spam emails that try to get your bank details from you.
These days, cyber attacks cannot be thwarted simply by antivirus software or firewalls. This is why everyone needs to inculcate good cybersecurity practices in their daily digital behaviour. Cybersecurity is a set of processes, frameworks, and tools that have been created to protect devices, networks, data, and programs from hackers. Cybercrime is a problem that is relevant to all of us today and implementing good cybersecurity practices is an essential first step to take to avoid falling prey to cyberattacks.
Why Do We Need Good Cybersecurity Practices in Daily Life?
According to experts, 80% of cybercrime frauds occur due to a lack of good cybersecurity practices. In order to protect yourself from malicious actors, you need to know how to conduct yourself online in the digital space. You need to be aware of what good cybersecurity practices are and what actions make you unsafe and leave you open to being exploited.
Not following the best cybersecurity practices can spell disaster for you. It is possible for your bank information to be stolen, or even your identity. Hackers may attempt to collect your private data and sell it. Some possible cybercrimes are
To prevent yourself from being stuck in such a situation, we have compiled a list of 10 cybersecurity best practices to help you be safer as you navigate your way through the online world.
Top 10 Good Cybersecurity Practices to Follow
- Set Strong Passwords and Use a Password Management Tool: Strong passwords are imperative if you want to keep hackers away from your data. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s 2017 password policy framework, your password should have a minimum of 8 characters and a maximum of 64 characters; the password should also have at least one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, one number, and four symbols other than &,%,#,@, and _.
You also should not use the same password twice. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should never leave a password hint anywhere where it could be found and it should not be saved on your computer or phone. Reset your password at least once a year and use a password management tool for all your passwords.
- 2-Factor Authentication: Most websites and platforms allow you to use more than one method to verify your identity before allowing you to log in. This is called two-factor authentication and adds an extra layer of security. Other than entering your password, you may have to verify your identity by entering a code sent to your email id or mobile phone. It is a good security practice to enable this feature.
- Limit Information on Social Networks: Social media has become an integral part of our lives. We use it to stay connected to each other and constantly provide updates about ourselves. This is why it is a great place for malicious actors to target you. It is not a good idea to put personal information on social networks. Make use of privacy and security settings to protect yourself and keep your personal information private.
- Check for HTTPS on Websites: HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and is an extension of HTTP. The communication protocol is encrypted in HTTPS using the Transport Layer Security protocol. If you are on a website that is not using HTTPS, then there is no assurance that the information transfer between the site’s server and you is secure. Before entering any personal information, make sure to check for HTTPS.
- Refrain from Using Public Networks: Connecting to a public network means that you are sharing the network with everyone else who is also using the network. Public networks are generally not secured, and so the information you send or retrieve on these networks remains unprotected. It is also possible for hackers to create fake hotspots to tempt you into connecting to them so that they can get their hands on your data. It is best to stay away from public networks and use a VPN when you are connected to one.
- Think before you Click: Links are a common method for hackers to snare their prey. They can easily be disguised as something they are not. For example, a seemingly harmless shopping website link may in fact lead to a fake website designed to steal your credit card information. Or it may download malware onto your device without your knowledge. It is best to not click random links. You can generally see the target URL by hovering over the link on most browsers. You should do this before you click on a link to make sure that the links are legitimate.
- Do Not Open Suspicious Emails: Unless you are absolutely sure that the email is from a legitimate source, do not reply to emails asking you to disclose any personal information. It is possible that the email is a phishing scam, which is a common way of duping people into revealing their bank details and other private information. In phishing scams, scammers send you emails that seem to be from a bank or a shop or give links to fake websites that can be used to confirm your account details. The scammers then use these details to buy things or transfer money out of your account. It is also possible for these links to include viruses and malware that automatically get installed on your computer. Even emails that seem to be from a trustworthy source can be forged which is why one should exercise caution when it comes to random emails.
- Keep Software Updated: Upgrades are provided by companies in order to add new features, fix bugs, and upgrade security. The latest version of the software will protect you from new or existing vulnerabilities as it has the most up-to-date security patches. The software can include bugs that can enable someone to monitor or control your device. Security updates can prevent this.
- Use Antivirus: It is impossible to be completely protected from malware as long as you are connected to the Internet. However, you can increase the probability of having your device infected by viruses or malware by ensuring that you install an antivirus and at least one anti-malware on your system.
- Back-Up Data: It is possible that the information stored on your device may one day become inaccessible due to viruses, malware, hardware failure, or any other unforeseen circumstances. This is why it is a good cybersecurity practice to regularly back up your data and make sure it is accessible.
Another good cybersecurity practice is to always download files and software from verified sources to avoid malware, virus, and hacker attacks. Avoid using peer-to-peer networks and remove file-sharing clients that are already installed on your devices. As most P2P applications have worldwide sharing turned on by default when you install them, you risk downloading viruses and other malware onto your systems which can lead to your personal information being leaked.
What to Do After a Cyberattack
Despite following good cybersecurity practices, it is still possible to fall victim to a cyberattack. Immediately after a cyberattack, you may need to disconnect from the Internet, disable remote access, install any pending security updates or patches, and change passwords. After that, let the proper authorities know by reporting the incident. Contact banks, credit card companies, and other such financial services where you have accounts. You may need to place holds on accounts that have been attacked and report that someone may be impersonating you after stealing your identity.
File a report with the local police so that there is an official record of the incident and report identity theft. You will have to contact additional agencies depending on what information was stolen.
Following the best cybersecurity practices cannot guarantee that you will never be attacked, however, it reduces the probability of being attacked and can even thwart attacks in some cases. To ensure your online safety, make sure to follow these tips.