Nclose How To: 5 Ways to Make Cybersecurity Awareness a Habit

Whether at work or at home, we are using our cell phones, laptops, tablets, and various other devices to get things done. This more than likely requires online interaction with other people or browsing around the web to accomplish tasks both personal and business. It’s sometimes during these mundane tasks that we unintentionally let cyber criminals into our space. Cyber criminals have never been more successful than they are now, and that’s because many people take their cyber hygiene for granted, the anti-virus we installed or using legitimate sources to get what we need can often create a false sense of security, and we live in a era where your most personal information is online habitually, and we trust it’s protected. In the spirit of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here’s 5 small habits you can incorporate into your daily lifestyle to make a cybercriminal’s life more difficult to get to you.

  1. Proactively Change Your Passwords

At some point in our lives, we are all guilty of using repetitive passwords if given the opportunity to do so. For example, a new bank card comes with its own unique password, yet we change it to something more familiar. Chances are you use a handful of passwords, so if you’re a person who has trouble remembering passwords, it may be worth while to either rotate passwords you are familiar with in the short-term, then make passwords longer or make subtle but significant changes to them in time, and so you grow your repository of passwords. It’s difficult to always start with new passwords from scratch unless you have to, at least with this method you retain what you know but you proactively make changes that can turn into a life-long habit, from turning “A” into “@” or “S” into “$” can be the difference between something important to you getting compromised. Importantly, don’t let apps save your passwords!

  1. The Triple Check

Whether you are browsing on the web or responding to emails, anything that requires you to submit or send important information must be self-verified, not once, not twice, but three time and more if needed. A lot of communication platforms we use replace emails with names to make your life easier, platforms like LinkedIn make it easy for someone to see who we work with and even connect with us, and social media means people can see who we spend our personal lives with. This can give someone all the information they need to impersonate someone in your personal or work life, that few seconds or minutes you need to make sure a person is legitimate costs you nothing but could save you immeasurably.

  1. The Links

In cybersecurity, if something is too good to be true, that’s because it probably is. On a daily we receive links or use links to get to where we want to be on the internet. Links of all kinds, meeting requests, information we need, logins to somewhere and so on, clicking links could be considered second nature because they’re shortcuts to where we want to go or need someone to get to quickly and conveniently. Once again use the Triple Check method or verify from relevant sources that a link is legitimate where you can. What makes malicious links so dangerous is that you only need to click them to expose yourself, whether intentional or not. If you can verify the legitimacy of a link, definitely do that, and if you can’t, simply don’t click on it just because it may look official – cybercriminals have become masters at making things look legitimate.

  1. Make Backing Up and Deleting a Habit

Your own personal failsafe option if you’ve lost important or sensitive information to a cybercriminal. Make a habit of backing up critical information if you can, usually in your work environment these things are in place, but often in a personal capacity we don’t protect our personal information the way our business information is protected – one compromises your business, but the other can compromise your entire livelihood, treat both with the same importance. Another simple method we overlook is simply deleting information we no longer need, and while it may not be valuable to you, it may be detrimental in the right hands. We tend to keep files and information stored with no purpose on our devices about us and even other people, it’s important to ask yourself the question, can someone harm me or anyone else with this information, and do I really need it? Example, we store passwords on our devices that we easily remember or can retrieve when we forget them using verification methods, so why increase your attack footprint by saving them elsewhere?

  1. Look After Your Devices

Firstly, if you are selling your device, make sure every bit of information on that device is restored to how you bought it, you’ll be surprised as to just how much information is hard saved on a device, even if it’s been formatted – manually check your devices that you no longer need or want. Secondly, make sure whatever needs to be up to date on your device is, sometimes software updates patch flaws or loopholes on your device that cybercriminals have exploited before. Lastly, whether you are using your device in public or at work, make a habit of logging off or shutting down your device when you leave it unattended, because apart from physically being stolen, your whole virtual life could be stolen too.

Need to Mitigate a Cyber Risk?