Most doctors agree that the key to living not just a healthy life, but a better life, begins and ends with developing healthy habits. Eating right, exercising, sleeping more, and drinking lots of water all contribute to health and happiness.
Similarly, living a healthy cyber life requires healthy practices. If we treat our online presence the way we (should) treat our bodies, we’ll avoid causing security incidents at work, or having our IDs stolen in our personal lives, or having our devices infected while on the go.
And just like no magic pill exists that automatically makes us healthier, no single solution exists for information security. We have to work at it. To help you do just that, try following these three steps and you can live a healthier, happier cyber life!
That old saying, “you are what you eat,” can easily be applied to the cyber world: you are only as strong as your weakest password. Eating right, in this case, means developing a well-balanced password, one that uses symbols, numbers, and letters. Even better, dump passwords for passphrases, which use a string of words to protect your accounts.
But even strong passphrases will fail if you use them for more than one account. Uniqueness matters the most. Think about the recent Twitter incident:
We recently found a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We fixed the bug and have no indication of a breach or misuse by anyone. As a precaution, consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password. https://t.co/RyEDvQOTaZ
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) May 3, 2018
Imagine if a criminal discovered this bug first. He would have gained a bounty of passwords that he could then leverage against other accounts. This situation highlights why you should never, for example, use the same password for your Twitter account and bank account, because gaining access to one provides access to the other. The Twitter incident also demonstrates the importance of two-factor authentication, which prompts for a second authentication when signing in on a new device or computer. Enable 2FA wherever possible!
Threats to security, both in your personal and professional life, require daily consideration. But the challenge can be met with simple solutions. Start with common sense. An email promising a free trip to Dubai should raise your suspicions. Random requests for personal information should also raise suspicions.
Knowing how to identify social engineering takes practice, especially when it comes to spear phishing, which scammers use to target specific individuals. Letting your guard down, even for a day, could result in a breach. The mental exercise of staying alert, verifying the source, and thinking before clicking sometimes feels like hard work, but so is going to the gym three or four times a week. If you want results, you have to put in the time. In the case of security awareness, developing a daily routine offers one of the top ways to remain cyber-fit.
Get More Sleep
We may never achieve a 100% worry-free life when it comes to security. But that doesn’t mean we can’t rest easy with a few technical solutions.
Passwords managers, for example, provide an efficient way to create, store, and access our logins for all of our accounts. If you’re relying on memory, then you’re either using the same password over and over again or using inferior passwords to protect sensitive info. A manager removes both of those issues by creating unique passwords for each account and storing them behind one master password. And yes, they’re safe.
VPNs offer stress-free surfing when accessing public networks. Short for virtual private network, VPNs encrypt your connection and help prevent criminal hackers from intercepting your traffic and stealing data. If you want to know more about how VPNs work, read this article. Don’t connect to public networks without one! And even when using a VPN, it’s best to avoid accessing any accounts that contain highly sensitive info, such as your banking account.
And perhaps the easiest “set-it-and-forget-it” solution, antivirus software harmlessly runs in the background while you work and surf the web. But where it sometimes gets overlooked is on mobile devices. Our smartphones and tablets deserve the same protection as our desktops and laptops!
These examples of simple, easy-to-use, low-cost solutions automatically upgrade your resilience to cybercrime without breaking much of a sweat either mentally or financially.
The Bottom Line
Cybersecurity requires a non-technical effort combined with a few tools designed to assist us in our everyday lives. At work, remember to always follow policy. At home, promote healthy cyber behavior with the members of your household. On the go, remember that criminals happily target your phones and tablets, especially via public networks.
Most of this is nothing more than common sense and awareness, both of which contribute to living a happy, healthy cyber life!
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