At a time when the majority of our life happens behind a screen, being cyber-savvy has never been more important. Experts predict that by 2050, cybercrime will be costing the world more than $10.5 trillion annually. The past year has already seen more than its fair share of attacks and breaches. Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated with more evolved bad actors cropping up each day.
Luckily, there are several steps that we can take daily to mitigate risks and stay one step ahead of cyber criminals. By getting to grips with the cyber basics, we can put ourselves in the best position to protect ourselves. Here are the top five:
- Enable multi-factor authentication
Security is like your clothes for that next ski trip: it’s best to use a layered approach. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds that necessary second check to verify your identity when logging in to one of your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a bad actor hijacks your password.
MFA adds a layer of protection to the sign-in process. However, the industry is going further, moving toward a password-less authentication future. This will eliminate knowledge-based factors – such as security questions – due to their vulnerabilities, and utilise additional identity verification such as fingerprints, making the process even more secure.
- Protect yourself with strong passphrases/password managers
Passwords are the most widely-used security control in the world. However, all too often, implementing strong passphrases or password managers are overlooked.
The pandemic has highlighted how interconnected we all are, with people spending more time online, contributing to more bad actors prowling for accounts to attack. Using long, complex, and unique passwords is a good way to stop your account from being hacked. But, if you find it difficult to remember all your long passwords, an easy way of keeping track is by using a password manager.
- Update your performance software
When your device prompts you that it’s time to update the software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone and ignore the message, forgetting to do this altogether. However, having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system on devices is one of the best defences against online threats since it addresses bugs and vulnerabilities in previous software. So, don’t wait – now is the time to update.
- Do your homework
A good step to staying safe online is to do some research before downloading anything new to your device, such as apps. Prior to this, make sure that it is legitimate by checking who created the app, what the user reviews say, and if there are any articles published online about the app’s privacy and security features.
- Check your settings, and check again
Be diligent and double-check your devices’ privacy and security settings, and be aware of who can access your documents. This extends from Google Docs to Zoom calls, and beyond. For example, when hosting meetings on Zoom, create passwords so only those invited to the session can attend and restrict who can share their screen or files with the rest of the attendees.
Take back control of your online presence
Being cyber-savvy and maintaining excellent online hygiene is the best way to protect yourself — and others — from cyber attacks. No single tip is fool proof, but applied together they can make a real difference in taking back control of your online presence. By taking preventive measures and making a habit of practicing online safety, you can decrease your odds of being hacked exponentially, preventing the loss of time, money, and stress.