Online safety is more important than ever before. People lock up their homes and valuables – even take steps to protect themselves – so why not their electronic devices? These devices contain an incredible amount of personal data since people use them for pretty much everything. So everyone must make the necessary changes to ensure their digital devices stay safe too.
The Most Common Types of Cybersecurity Threats
- Zero-Day Exploits
- Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
- SSL Attacks
Cybersecurity Essentials: The Tools for Everyone
The term “essential” implies that something is fundamentally important to have. This is true for these cybersecurity essentials as well. There are plenty of security tools available out there, which can be overwhelming – especially because many cater to businesses rather than singular people or families.
But there are many great security essentials tailored for everyday people who use devices like smartphones and laptops for home and/or work.
Here are some of the more crucial ones:
1. An Anti-Malware Program (In Addition to an AntiVirus)
Pretty much everyone knows by now that they should have an antivirus program installed on their devices. But what many people don’t realize is that they need to have an additional anti-malware plan since antiviruses don’t cover everything. Having both is important.
2. A VPN
Virtual private networks are extremely popular these days and justifiably so; they protect devices from many dangers and privacy invasion. VPNs protect network connections by encrypting them and routing through a secure VPN server. Because of this, they also spoof people’s IP addresses, replacing them with fake ones.
It is recommended that people use paid VPNs instead of the free ones, as they’re more reliable. VPNs come with a couple of security benefits, including increased anonymity online and protection from man-in-the-middle and SSL attacks.
3. Password Managers
People have so many accounts to keep up with these days that it’s easier to use one password and call it a day. But never reuse passwords or write them down. Use a password manager instead.
Browsers like Chrome and Safari offer to save people’s passwords. However, those don’t come recommended either. There are a couple of ways that hackers can exploit browsers to see saved passwords.
4. Email Encryption Software
People who use their email for work (or share any other sensitive information over email) need email encryption. Unlike a VPN, this tool only encrypts one specific thing – the text and attachments sent in an email. It just adds another layer of protection to ensure that criminals can’t intercept any confidential information.
Good Everyday Cybersecurity Habits
1. Change Those Passwords!
It isn’t necessary to change passwords regularly. They do need to be changed, though, if they’re being used for more than one account or a company has been hacked.
Hackers can use the login credentials they steal through company data breaches to get into accounts or sell them to the highest bidder. If people reuse their passwords, hackers will be able to get into those accounts through credential stuffing.
But don’t forget the device and router passwords either! Many hardware around the home – like smart cameras and routers – come with default passwords that are easy to guess.
2. Keep Devices and Software Up to Date
Developers are supposed to regularly release device/software updates to protect against new security threats. These updates generally defend against zero-day exploits, vulnerabilities identified by the developers, and new malware attacks. So it’s essential to install those updates as soon as they’re available, ideally. Most devices allow automatic updates these days, which is preferred.
3. Set Up Device Locks
Computers, smartphones, tablets, and even some smart devices can be locked with a password or pin. Device theft is a very real issue, and the misery continues when the criminals get access to everything stored on the device. Not to mention any accounts that are still logged in.
4. Change Account Privacy Settings
Online accounts, like on social media, have privacy settings that can be adjusted for increased privacy. The same goes for browsers and operating systems like Windows. Take a look around the settings menu and change settings to limit who can see or share personal information.
5. Don’t Click on Suspicious Links
Phishing emails and messages get more realistic by the day. They can take a lot of forms, but they still generally try to get people to click on links or attachments. These will either take them to a fake website to steal their login credentials or download malware.
Always be suspicious of any unwarranted email, especially if it contains a link. This holds true whether the email is from a business, a stranger, or a friend.
This isn’t a complete guide to online safety by any means, but it does cover the most essential basics of staying safe on the internet. For many, this might be a quick refresher on what they already know. But it’s important to make sure these steps aren’t being put off until tomorrow. The criminals don’t sleep, so stay safe on the internet today!