*Simple Cyber-Security measures we should all practice

TechViews News   …..

It is time to give up the idea that security breaches are for big corporations and high profile figures. Any one of us can become a target. And we must learn the basics to protect ourselves.

Despite the stories you hear about the sophisticated methods employed by hackers, in most cases, it is simple negligence that allows them to carry out their attacks.

A 2014 report from IBM states that 95 percent of security breaches result from human carelessness. For example, despite all the warnings you see about creating strong passwords, you’d be surprised to learn that “12345” and “password” remain the two most common passwords on the internet.

Remember, it was “password” that was used by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, that allowed intruders to gain access to his emails that sank her campaign.

First things first … Keep backups of your data

Keeping regular backups of your data outside of your computer has many benefits, especially for data recovery situations. But it is also important from a security perspective, as some breeds of cyberattacks, such as ransomware , target and corrupt your data in order to extort money from you. In such situations, having backups of your data can save you time, money, and headaches.

It’s so important that we place “Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!” at the bottom of every article on TechViews News.

Get serious about your passwords

Everyone’s heard about the characteristics of a strong password: over 8 characters and composed of a combination of letters (both uppercase and lower case), digits and symbols. But that’s not all there is to having smart and strong passwords. You should also take note of the following:

  • Never use the same password on different accounts
  • Do not store your passwords on your hard drive
  • Change your passwords periodically
  • Never share your passwords with others
  • Don’t use pet names, birthdates, and other info that can be obtained elsewhere.

Surprisingly, most people know about these rules, but a lot of people simply overlook them, out of laziness. Especially as each of us have several or even dozens of secure accounts (emails, online subscriptions, social media, and devices) to remember.

We tend to neglect protecting our passwords, convincing ourselves that it’s always the next guy whose password will get hacked. I fall victim to that thinking as well. It’s easy to think it won’t happen to me … until it does.

Remember, it only takes one incident to inflict irreparable damage to your data and life. Use a password manager that you feel comfortable with. A simple online search will give you many choices to pick from. And yes, even the free ones are secure and better than nothing.

Don’t put your trust in the cloud

If you’re going to keep your backup in a cloud server, my recommendation is to encrypt them on your own end before uploading them, even if your provider claims to encrypt all user data. Cloud providers are one of the hottest targets of hack attacks, and there are too many cases of hackers obtaining decryption keys to cloud data. Under such circumstances, having an extra layer of protection can make you immune to the possibly disastrous results of your provider’s negligence.

I make sure I encrypt my files BEFORE I upload them to my cloud account. There are many ways to encrypt your data … use your favorite search engine and learn how.

Don’t disable your lockscreens

How many times have you been tempted to get rid of those pesky lock screens on your phone, or laptop computer? If you’ve either disabled the need for a password to logon, or extended the timeout period on most of your devices, know that you’ll regret it the next time your gadget gets stolen. But by then, it’ll be too late.

It pays in the long run to be a little patient and prudent and enter your password a couple of more times during the day. And that includes your home desktop computer. Lock screens go a long way to ensure that you’re safe when the unexpected happens.

Avoid offers on the Internet. The more tempting the offer, the more the reason to avoid it

While perusing the internet, you’ll face a lot of tempting offers, ads that will promise to reward you if you click on them, pop-ups that congratulate you on winning a contest that you’ve never entered, or scary messages that warn you that you need to update your computer or change your account password.

One safe way to surf is to think that every link is harmful unless proven otherwise. The same goes for email attachments from someone you don’t know or didn’t write first. Ok, I don’t mean for you to become overly paranoid, but you really have to be careful when dealing with links.

Never click on anything unless you totally trust it. And always make sure your computer or handset has up-to-date anti-malware software installed on it.

As for your browsers, make sure you disable or uninstall plugins that are prone to being used as launch points for cyberattacks. The Flash Player add-on is one such plugin.

Software updates

Always keep your operating system, browser, antivirus and other software up-to-date. Most vendors regularly offer patches and security updates for their products. Never underestimate the value of these updates. They usually contain fixes for newly discovered vulnerabilities. Not installing updates means you’re leaving your system open to attacks through well-known security holes.

Know how you are connected

It’s also extremely important to know how you get connected to the Internet. Know how your home is connected; is it hard wired or wireless? Not long ago you’d only need to secure your desktop or laptop computer’s internet connection to make sure that you were protected against malicious hackers. A few years ago, that expanded to include your smartphone as well.

Today there are multiple connected gadgets surrounding you (including smart thermostats, security cams, fridges, door locks, garage doors, etc) and on you (your smart wearable devices such as smartwatch, Fitbit) that you need to be wary of.

In a few years, connected devices will outnumber humans. Every one of these can become subject to an attack. Remember the massive Internet blackout in October 2016? That was caused by a hacker group using unsecured home routers to attack those types of wireless devices and practically bring down the internet.

Finally

The first rule in cybersecurity is that there’s no such thing as a totally secure system. But by adhering to these basic rules, you can rest assured that you’re immune to most types of attacks and will convince the potential hacker to go prey on someone else (let’s hope that someone else has also read this post).

Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!

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And don’t forget to take advantage of our FREE subscription to the TechViews.org Newsletter. A must-read if you are interested in Internet Security.

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