Cybersecurity is one of those topics that people shy away from. They often believe that it’s one of those complex topics that only tech bros have to understand but in actual fact, most of us cannot comfortably use our devices without a form of security.
Imagine opening your laptop tomorrow morning and finding out that all your documents which you spent the entire night on, have been deleted by bugs. That helplessness you feel when that happens is exactly what cybersecurity seeks to curb.
Cybersecurity describes the methods used to protect phones, computer systems and networks from unauthorized access, information loss, data theft, software damage, and disruption of the services provided. It is usually described as a method used to protect the integrity and availability of computers and networks from cyberattacks.
A cyberattack is an aggressive attempt to steal, reveal, manipulate, or destroy data by gaining unauthorized access to a computer system. These include everything from laptop “crashes” to unlawful access to sensitive papers including medical records, bank statements, and trade secrets.
The importance of cybersecurity continues to grow as the number of users, devices and programs worldwide and the amount of sensitive data grows. It has become increasingly worrisome to wake up to a dysfunctional laptop, or a phone ridden with viruses. Now, more than ever, we need to be aware of how to protect our devices and information.
The only way to combat these attacks is to become familiar with cybersecurity and how it works.
Cybersecurity has various elements such as Application Security, Information or Data Security, Network Security, Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning, Operational Security, Cloud Security, Critical Infrastructure Security, Physical Security, and End User Training. These elements represent different areas of your infrastructure, each of which is important to protect with its own tactics.
Historically, dealing with cyber threats has been reactionary. When a threat emerges, organizations respond, but by then it may be too late. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends that organizations employ continuous monitoring and real-time assessments as part of their risk assessment framework to protect against known and unknown threats. This is a precautionary measure that helps mitigate these threats as soon as they emerge.
Here are some preventive measures for your personal and business computers:
Use a Firewall
Think of a firewall as a wall that separates your private information from the outside world. These firewalls prevent unwanted access to corporate networks and even warn you of intrusion attempts.
Fortunately, Windows and macOS have a built-in firewall but you must always make sure your firewall is enabled before going online. You can decide to also purchase a corporate hardware firewall and larger businesses can purchase additional corporate network firewalls to further protect their data.
Use Antivirus Software
Antivirus software plays an important role in protecting your system by detecting threats in real-time and keeping your data safe. Some advanced antivirus programs offer automatic updates and will further protect your computer from new viruses that appear every day. After installing an antivirus program, don’t forget to use it.
Also, remember to run or schedule regular virus scans. Investing in good antivirus software is cost-effective in the long run and protects you from the dread of cyber threats.
Use Strong Passwords
Using strong passwords is the most important way to prevent network intruders. The more secure your password is, the harder it is for hackers to break into your system.
Hackers have many tools to crack short, simple passwords in minutes, so use passwords that are at least 8 characters long and combine numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and computer symbols ( as recommended on common sites that we log into).
Do not use recognizable words or combinations representing birthdays or other related information. Also, do not reuse passwords. If you have too many passwords to remember, you should use a password manager like LastPass, but also make sure it’s a secure platform.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Most of the popular social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok strongly encourage users to use their two-factor authentication. Passwords are your first line of defence against computer hackers, but a second layer provides additional protection. Many websites allow you to enable two-factor authentication. This provides additional security as you must answer a personal question or enter a verification code sent to your phone or email address before you log in.
Beware of email messages from unknown parties, and never ever click on links or open attachments that accompany them. The common Inbox spam filters have gotten really good at recognising spam emails so they remove them from your main inbox and keep them in a separate folder for you. But the more sophisticated phishing emails that mimic your family friends, co-workers, pastors and trusted businesses (like your bank) have become common, so keep your eyes open for anything that looks or sounds suspicious.
Be Careful of USB Devices
You have to use the USB device on your computer very carefully in order to keep information secure. When you are using USB devices on your computer for data transferring, ensure that all external devices are coming from a reliable source. Always run a scan by your antivirus software, just so that you’re sure.
Back-Up Your Computer
Even though we have listed various ways to secure your devices, they are not totally foolproof. In the case where hackers actually succeed at getting through to your system and destroying information, backing up your information would be critical. If your business is not already backed up on your hard drive, you should do that immediately.
Always make sure you can rebuild as quickly as possible after a cyberattack or data breach. The backup utilities built into macOS (Time Machine) and Windows (File History) are good starting points, but an external backup hard drive with enough storage space for your computer to work properly is recommended.
To Round Off…
We can never be too prepared to protect ourselves and our data. Cybersecurity prepares us for what to do before a cyber attack and helps us to minimize loss as much as possible. So, before that bug or petty hacker comes to delete or clone all your important files or send inappropriate emails to your contacts, do what should be done!