Cyber Hygiene is a concept that is widely discussed in cybersecurity. The term cyber hygiene refers to essential habits that will help keep you safe online. Similar to everyday hygiene practices such as brushing your teeth or taking showers, cyber hygiene practices should become part of your online routine. In this blog post, we’ll talk about five simple tips that you can adopt today, which will go a long way in securing yourself online.
We know you’ve probably heard this 1000 times, but somehow this simple tip is still overlooked by many. According to a study done by SecureAuth, 53% of respondents admitted using the same passwords for different accounts. Even worse, another survey found that 51% of people use the same password for work AND personal accounts. Setting strong passwords on all of your devices is as essential as locking your door when you leave the house. It’s recommended that your passwords should contain at least ten characters along with numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters. This makes it harder for hackers to crack your passwords using dictionary attacks which try thousands of common words from the dictionary in the hopes of guessing your password. If you want to make your passwords truly uncrackable, you can use random password generator sites to get a random assortment of numbers, symbols, etc. Just make sure it’s a certified site such as Norton Password Generator or LastPass Password Generator.
Sometimes, a strong password isn’t enough to stop the most determined of cybercriminals. Having MFA on your devices provides an extra layer of security that makes it harder for anyone that isn’t you to log in to your device. MFA works by asking users to verify their identity using a one-time password or code sent to their email, mobile phone, or app when they log in. For example, if a user logs into Facebook with MFA on, they might be prompted to enter a four-digit code sent to their phone as an added step. This ensures that outsiders can’t just log into an account with a password in case that password has been compromised. In the settings of most MFA services, you can choose how often they pop up, varying from every login to just logins from new devices or locations. Luckily, many platforms like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Instagram now have built-in MFA. To turn these on, all you need to do is navigate to the settings and privacy section, where you should be able to see authentication settings. If you’re looking for third-party MFA services, check out popular authentication apps like Duo Mobile, LastPass Authenticator, or Twilio Authy.
A firewall is another great cyber hygiene tool and controls the traffic between your device and the Internet. It acts as the first line of defense against malware and other malicious programs by managing your network traffic, blocking unsolicited traffic, and validating access. Most newer operating systems such as Windows and iOS come preloaded with basic firewall software, so make sure you have it enabled in settings. If you’re looking for more comprehensive software with higher-end features, check out paid services such as Bitdefender, Avast, Norton 360, and others. A good antivirus/malware software, on the other hand, complements the firewall. It can scan, detect, block, and remove known malware and malicious programs. Some examples of great antivirus software include McAfee Antivirus, Norton Antivirus Plus, and Kaspersky Antivirus. Together, a firewall and antivirus duo will help ensure your protection against security breaches, along with many other threats.
VPNs or Virtual Private Networks are excellent tools for consumers looking to safeguard their privacy online. A VPN works by creating a digital tunnel that your encrypted data travels through, keeping your online history secure and anonymous on the Internet. This makes it so even if your data is intercepted by a hacker, it’ll be in a jumbled and unusable state. VPNs are especially useful when you’re using unsecured/public wifi networks at your local coffee shop, library, airport, or college that can be targeted by hackers looking to intercept your data. All VPNs can also be turned on and off whenever the user wants to return to normal internet browsing. Some popular VPN services include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, TunnelBear, ProtonVPN. To learn more in-depth about VPN’s and their uses, check out our blog: https://www.zeguro.com/blog/virtual-private-networks-how-to-stay-anonymous-online
Encrypting your personal devices can be an excellent way to protect your data if it falls into the wrong hands. When data is encrypted, it turns into a collection of characters or numbers that appear to be gibberish to anyone outside. If your device is fully encrypted, it’s almost impossible for a thief or hacker to access the personal information stored on the device. Luckily in 2021, almost all popular mobile phone, laptop, and desktop PC manufacturers have built-in data encryption options in their operating systems, so there’s no reason to leave your personal data vulnerable on your devices.
For iPhones, you can confirm that your device is encrypted by scrolling to the bottom of the Settings > Touch ID & Passcode screen. You should see the “Data protection is enabled” message. This means that the device’s encryption is now tied to your passcode and that most data on your phone will need that code to unlock it.
If your Android device is running version 5.0 and higher (2015 or newer), chances are encryption is already enabled by default.
For Mac devices, most newer products running macOS have FileVault2 pre-installed. If you have an older device, then you might have to manually download FileVault2, which is available on OS X Lion or later. FileVault provides full-disk encryption, which, when active, encrypts all files on your device and encrypts new files as you write them.
Built-in device encryption is available on supported devices running any Windows 10 edition. To check if device encryption is on, select the Start button, then select Settings > Update & Security > Device encryption. If device encryption isn’t on, then enable it and restart your device.
For more in-depth information on device encryption, check out our blog:
By practicing these simple cyber hygiene habits and incorporating them into your online routine, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of being affected by a hack or data breach. Remember that staying safe online is a constant process, so stay up to date on managing your passwords and updating your software.
To learn more about cyber hygiene tips specifically for small businesses, check out our other blog post: https://www.zeguro.com/blog/five-tips-for-better-cyber-hygiene.