Cybersecurity is an essential tool in the fight against all kinds of online criminal activity. While a lot of us take it for granted that the sites we visit, share, and shop from, are all safe and have been thoroughly vetted by the appropriate authorities, you really never can be too careful. Cybersecurity is one of the primary, everyday things that we need to attend to to be sure that we keep our funds and our data out of the hands of people who might want to misappropriate them. Safety when shopping online, or even just browsing, is paramount. Here are a few tips from us to you to stay on the right side of cyber security.
Whether it’s for your business or for you personally at home, the benefits of a VPN are endless. What the term means is Virtual Private Network, and what the program does is that it masks your online activity, whatever it may be, from third parties who might be lurking around. A VPN’s function is essential to shield your actual data and connection from anyone and anything by funneling it through a secure connection. This is especially helpful if you browse from public connections. Perhaps you work from a local coffee shop; this can be dangerous in terms of what’s available to prying eyes if you aren’t protected. Hackers target places with public connections to nab data; don’t make it easier for them.
The only downside to having a VPN is that it will inevitably slow your internet speed a little. All of your data is being bounced from one side of the world to the other, so this little drop in speed should hardly come as a surprise, as inconvenient as it can be.
It feels like this should go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway. Having a reliable antivirus installed is non-negotiable if you use the internet on any of your devices. If you’re unfamiliar with what antivirus software does, we’ll break it down for you. It acts as a soldier or security guard against malware (any software made with malicious intent), spyware (software designed to remain hidden and capture your data), viruses in general (harmful programs that replicate on your computer) and anything dangerous that might find its way into your computer.
Some antivirus software works to combat all of these forms of the program; others may only take on one at a time, so be sure you understand what you’re purchasing. Remember that programs like this need regular updates to stay current and functioning at a high level.
We know it’s challenging to remember a hundred complicated passwords, but keeping your passwords long and complex is a crucial aspect of keeping your sensitive data safe. The more unique and complex your password, the more difficult it is for any hacker to figure out what it is. If there are security questions that need to be set, consider using a translation tool to translate them into a different language. The more unpredictable they are, the better. Adding a space before or after other characters is another excellent option to add uniqueness.
If you struggle to keep track of all your passwords, you can make use of an app like LastPass or Samsung Pass (depending on what device you are using) to keep all your information safe but still readily accessible. You could also consider using a password-protected spreadsheet.
You might be asking, what is the difference between an antivirus and a firewall? Well, we’ll tell you. A firewall protects your hardware and your software, making it essential if you or your business have physical servers. It also blocks viruses or deters them from even entering your network, rather than dealing with them after the fact. Firewall and antivirus make a very successful team. A firewall will keep your network traffic, inbound, and outbound, safe and secure. It may block certain unsavory websites which might be used by hackers to target unsuspecting visitors. It can also be programmed to stop people in a business from sending out certain kinds of data.
If you run a business, this is particularly important. If your business handles any kind of online transaction with credit cards, identity numbers, or bank transfers, you’ll need an encryption program to keep that data safe. It alters the information being sent and received into unreadable codes. It’s a program that is designed to anticipate the worst-case scenario; should your data get stolen, the hacker who has it will not be able to read it without the correct keys to do so.
Ignore emails from unknown senders
This is just good common sense when it comes to emails and calls. Any email coming from an unknown sender or from an email address that looks even the least bit suspicious is one that you should delete without opening it. Unscrupulous individuals and hackers will try to get to you through a seemingly innocuous email. They may tell you you’ve won something in a contest that you never even knew you had entered, or that they are a long-lost relative with an inheritance that needs to be passed on to you. Though it would be nice to think that these things happen, it is a fair bet that they aren’t really real. Ignore, delete and block the sender.
Back up often
This is a good idea for many reasons, not only to safeguard your data from cybercriminals. If you back up your data on the cloud or on physical hard drives regularly, you can be sure that you’ll always have access to it, even in the worst of times. This takes away the leverage that hackers might have to ransom your data back to you, but also puts your mind at rest that you’ll never lose important data because it is stored in more than one place.
There are many basic cyber security tools that you can make use of to safeguard your data; we suggest you start today.