6 IT Security Tips That Anyone Can Implement
Cybersecurity has become an important concern for not only enterprises and government agencies, but individuals too.
The average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million in 2020. Moreover, personal data was compromised in 58% of the breaches.
Internet users, especially those who use it at home, tend to overlook the need for ensuring cybersecurity. When they spend more time online, they automatically begin to share their data over the internet. This data may fall prey to fraudsters in the event of a cyberattack.
You should take cybersecurity seriously because when your data is compromised, it doesn’t remain private. Hackers may gain access to critical information like your financial information and social security number. This may further result in identity theft. Furthermore, your personal information can be misused by fraudsters, leading to even more serious consequences like legal action for an offense you may have not committed.
Having said that, here are a few ways you can easily maintain IT security and safeguard your data.
1. Effectively Manage your Passwords
Findings reveal that almost 300 billion passwords were utilized in 2020.
Passwords are the first line of defense against potential hackers. However, most of us go wrong in this area. Here are a few points you should stick to for creating passwords that can help fortify network security.
- Use strong passwords. Do not use easily guessable, simple, or generic passwords.
- Do not use the same password across different accounts. This will make all your accounts vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks and they may get compromised simultaneously.
- Never share your passwords. If there is a compulsion to share your password, ensure to change it promptly.
- Utilize a password manager to keep track of passwords for multiple accounts. Avoid noting them down to eliminate the chances of information leaks and cybersecurity breaches.
- Make sure to change the default passwords that devices are assigned with.
- Change your passwords periodically to avoid the chances of misuse.
Make the most of multi-factor authentication to doubly secure your data. Here, you will need to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to your account. For example, you will need your login credentials and a “One Time Password” (OTP) to access your account or perform financial transactions over a payment gateway.
2. Be Aware of Phishing Tricks
Phishing emails/links may look legitimate, but they’re highly malicious. It is, therefore, best to avoid clicking on links that look suspicious. Do not open emails from unknown email IDs. If you aren’t expecting an email from someone, in particular, be cautious when you receive an unexpected message from them.
Also, do not submit personal information, banking data, and login credentials on any links. A few ways to identify phishing emails are as follows:
- Check if the email is addressed to your name or has a generic greeting
- Look for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in the message
- Scan the email for abusive/threatening language
- Check if the email asks for personal or financial information
If you suspect that you have received a phishing email, do not click on any of the links or download any attachments, especially if the email is from an unknown sender. If the sender’s name is familiar, contact them directly to confirm the message or for updates.
Furthermore, phishing websites look like a replica of the original website. These fake websites try to trick users into entering their sensitive information. To avoid falling for this trick, ensure that the URL entered is correct. Check the domain name and the file path. You may do a simple Google search to verify this.
Check for poor grammar and spelling, old landing pages, and unfamiliar-looking pages before entering your information. You should also ensure that the website URL begins with the standard “HTTPS” protocol, and not simply HTTP. This indicates that all transactions between your browser and the website are secure.
3. Be Cautious on Public Networks
Use public networks with care. Ensure that you do not share your login credentials for bank accounts or perform any financial transactions on a public network. It is best if you restrict these critical activities within your home network. Make sure that you avoid unsafe signals and connect using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) wherever possible, which takes us to the next point.
4. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for Strong IT Security
Using VPN ensures that you access the web safely and privately. When the connection is established over a VPN, it protects your identity and location. It also encrypts the data being transferred.
The website that receives the information indicates that data is being passed through a VPN. It does not disclose the identity or location of the user.
Furthermore, VPNs use encryption protocols to transfer data. It uses tunneling techniques to encapsulate information and conducts integrity checks to ensure data security.
5. Use Appropriate IT Security Software
Make sure that you have the necessary IT security software in place. Antivirus software is designed to prevent, detect, and remove malware that includes viruses, corrupted software, adware, and Trojans.
An appropriate firewall setup can help check for malware. The entry of malware should be curbed as it can hack your system, steal sensitive data, and either hold it to ransom or completely delete it.
A few common signs to identify compromised network security include:
- Unfamiliar icons on your system
- Frequent system crashes
- Increased internet traffic without the usage
- Presence of irrelevant pop-up ads
- Continuous redirection by your browser
- Disabled system tools
- Unsolicited posts/messages on social media/online accounts
- Occupied computer storage capacity without addition of files
6. Avoid Unnecessary Downloads
Hackers can gain access to your network by tricking you into downloading malicious files. You should consider protecting your network security by downloading only what’s required. Ensure that unnecessary extensions and software are avoided.
It is recommended to perform custom installation from downloads. This will enable you to monitor the process closely. Also, if you find pop-ups or extensions during the installation process, you should close/decline them.
It’s not only businesses that are facing a rising number of cybersecurity threats, individual internet users are being targeted too. You should ensure to implement stringent measures to curb the risk of compromising your sensitive information. Hopefully, the above-mentioned points will throw light on a few ways internet users can keep cybersecurity threats at bay. For any IT Security related requirement, reach out to us at (647)-492-4955.
Chantale Benoit is the CEO of Frontier Solutions, a Calgary IT support company that has been helping small businesses get the most from IT in a way that allows it to drive their business forward for the past 23 years. Learn more about Chantale and Frontier Solutions here.
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