October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and at Envision we are excited to do our part to educate others and help protect them from cyber criminals. Week 1 of the month-long activities planned focuses on the "basics of cyber security." While the tips presented below are all fairly basic, the reality is that many compromises happen because these essential security steps are not being followed, not because some cybercriminal mastermind hacked through incredible defenses. Following the basics will absolutely help protect you, so ensuring that these basics are indeed being followed is the first step in being “cyber smart”.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds that necessary second check to verify your identity when logging in to one of your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a bad actor hijacks your password.
MFA will typically include the use of something you know (your password) along with something you have (a security code sent to your phone). In this way, MFAs make it more difficult for password cracking tools to enable attackers to break into accounts because they need both the password and your device in order to access your account.
Use Strong Passwords or a Password Manager
This may seem obvious, but all too often securing with strong passphrases/password managers are overlooked. People spending more time online during the pandemic has certainly contributed to more bad actors prowling for accounts to attack. Using long, complex, and unique passwords is a good way to stop your account from being hacked - and an easy way of keeping track and remembering your passwords is by using a password manager.
Perform Software Updates
When a device prompts you that it’s time to update the software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone and ignore the message to focus on whatever task you are working on in that moment (yes, these prompts do seem to pop up at the most inopportune times). However, having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system on devices is one of the best defenses against online threats.
When you see one of these update prompts, ask yourself if you can spare the few minutes it will take to ensure you have the latest security enabled. In most cases, you will find that you can, indeed, invest the time it takes to make this a priority.
Do Your Research
Common sense is a crucial part of maintaining good online hygiene, and an intuitive step to staying safe online is to do some research before downloading anything new, such as apps. Before downloading any new software or app on your device, make sure that it’s legit by checking who created the app, what the user reviews say, and if there are any articles published online about the app’s privacy and security features. 5 minutes of up-front research can easily save you from making a security mistake and downloading something that is not what it seems.
Check Your Settings
Be diligent to double check your privacy and security settings, and be aware of who can access your documents. This extends from Google docs, to Zoom calls, and beyond.
As we said at the start of this article - these are basic tips in line with the Cyber Security Awareness Month Week 1 theme of "Be Cyber Smart." Still, basic as they may be, these principals alone will help protect you, and they do set the stage for more robust protections that your organization should be deploying - like Zero-Trust Security Architecture, ongoing security assessments, and employee security measurement and training.
Stay tuned to Envision's website and social channels all month as we share articles, events, and information to help you be Cyber Smart!