Simple Ways to Protect Yourself Online
October is Cybersecurity Awareness month, and protecting yourself and your information in the digital age can be what seems like an increasingly overwhelming task. There were 1,802 data compromises in 2022 alone affecting 422.1 million people, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center Data Breach Report. These numbers are staggering to see, and may lead you to wonder what in the world you are able to do in order protect yourself. There is no one magic bullet that will protect you, it must be a layered approach leveraging more than one strategy. There are a number of ways to protect yourself that do not require any sort of specialized training, that anyone can do. Here are just a few of them that are recommended by experts:
- Password Policy – One of the easiest ways to protect your accounts on the internet is to use complex passwords, and not to reuse the same password for everything. Instead of using your favorite child’s name and date of birth like this, “John5389”, try something like this, “J0hnfive3eight9!”. It can be easy to remember and by simply alternating a letter with a number, or typing out a number can drastically increase the complexity of your password. By using the same password for all of your sensitive information, you run the risk of giving a bad actor access to all of your information with one data breach.
- Enabling Mulit-Factor Authentication – Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is becoming more and more necessary with all the compromised data out there. MFA is like enabling a two-step process for any log on activity. The first step is having the username and password, and the second step would be answering a security question only you would know or verification of an additional code. That additional code can be sent via text, email or an authenticator app on your phone.
- Think Before you Click – Any time you are surfing the web, reading emails, opening attachments, or even texting there is a chance that a single click can cause serious issues for you. Malware can be downloaded on your device by simply opening an attachment or clicking on a link.
- Keep your device up to date – Everyone knows the feeling of having to sit and wait for your device or an application on your device to update. Is it really necessary and can it cause harm to put it off? In short, yes, it is necessary. One of the biggest advantages is to maintain the security of the device. Many times those updates include what are called security patches. Security patches are updates to software that will fix a previously known vulnerability. If those vulnerabilities are left unpatched you are leaving yourself unnecessarily at risk.
None of these actions require spending any money, or a deep understanding of technology. There is nothing anyone can to do totally protect themselves. They are, however, a step in the right direction to protect yourself in the digital age.
External Cybersecurity Awareness
There are many reputable external sources for cybersecurity awareness.