October is Cyber Security Month, a notion that Hostirian holds very near to our hearts. Cyber Security is at the crux of what we believe in, and sentiments for stronger security are ones we strongly align with. Of course, there are many ways for one to go about ensuring they are secure, and it’s highly recommended that one takes the time to review just how safe they are and how safe they can be – in the meantime, we’ll start with 5 important tips for making sure you are on the right track to being safe and secure online:
- USE STRONG PASSWORDS
I’m sure we’ve all read this one time and time again – told it even more times, yet it can’t be said enough. Password security is pivotal for cyber security, and by far the easiest to manage, but often times the most vulnerable. Remember, your passwords aren’t just meant to be bits of memorabilia for fond memories or a relative’s birthday, they are your protection from letting random people access your data. Make sure you are using a relatively complex password, and if need be are storing it in a secure location in case it has slipped your mind (albeit, having a hint rather than the password outright is far more advisable).
- KEEP YOUR SOFTWARE UPDATED
This one is as simple as it comes, and should be the easiest to keep track of. Often times, the software companies and teams are finding the vulnerable spots in their apps, and are constantly providing updates when they do to ensure they are putting out a safe product. Don’t overlook these updates!
- USE ANTI-MALWARE/ANTI-VIRUS PROTECTION
Another common bit of advice, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Being safe and cautious won’t do you as much good if you aren’t also making sure you have those slips and cracks covered, and that’s where your anti-malware and anti-virus software come in handy, but which ones should you be using? It’s not as straightforward of an answer as some might make it seem, as some software offer different versions that cover more or different malware than another, so really it comes down to what your needs are. I’ve found that this write-up offers a great breakdown on what each company offers and what their software scans for, and be the perfect starting point for you if you are shopping for anti-malware/anti-virus products.
To make sure you are fully protected, even when using anti-malware/anti-virus software, we also heavily advise having two security software. Have one to run in the background, and another to have ready for any on-the-spot moments to make sure nothing might have been overlooked or managed to slip its way through. Just remember to disable the one you have running in the background, lest you risk them interfering with one-another.
Footnote: Make sure you are also using a Firewall and keeping it updated as well. You can never be too safe.
- BE WEARY OF ATTACHMENTS AND DOWNLOADS
This one is going to mostly be related to your email usage, but it is by no means less important. Attachments and downloads are what most people recognize malware as, and they aren’t wrong for doing so. People are getting more creative in the malware they put-out, but email has still remained an effective means for them to do so. When you go to open an attachment, make sure you are aware of the source, the purpose of the attachment, and that you are expecting it. One of the biggest trends of late is spoofing – where someone will send an email under what appears to be another’s email address. This allows them to cover themselves up as, say, someone from your own contacts list, in order to gain your trust in what they are sending you. If you receive a suspicious email from someone you know, check with them to make sure they really did send it before opening.
- KEEP ALL IMPORTANT DATA BACKED UP
Last, but certainly not least, back. up. your. stuff. Humans are infallible, and sometimes mistakes happen. Maybe it was on your end, maybe it was on the company behind your anti-malware, maybe it was neither…either way you should always be prepared and be ready to get all of your data back up (pun absolutely intended) in case something does end up happening. I’ve said it once here, I’ll say it again: you cannot be too safe. Even if it only happens once, even if it never happens, the investment in making sure all your data is secure for you is definitely greater than the risk of losing it all.