When it comes to cyber security, sometimes it won’t matter how expensive or effective the security tools you’ll have in place just to protect your network. There’s no way you’ll be able to predict the type of damage a careless user can create. The war that rages on against cyber criminals happens every time users open or click on unfamiliar links, and the smallest of mistakes can result in the loss of extensive data (or money).
Let’s cover some basic guidelines you should take into consideration when using the internet:
- Be aware that any user who accesses the net can become a target to certain online threats. Don’t be too complacent to think you’re too smart to be a target that it will never happen to you.
- Maintain this password ‘etiquette’. Make it a habit to use strong passwords, with a combination of alphanumeric characters and symbols. Also, avoid using one password for a number of sites. Avoid writing down your passwords on post-it-notes or anywhere else that a passer-by could easily obtain them.
- Your devices should not be left unattended. If you need to leave your tablet, phone, or computer for even a few minutes, it should always be locked so that no one can have access to it. Do not store sensitive data or information on your external hard drive or flash drive, otherwise make sure you lock these devices as well.
- Be mindful when deciding to open a link or attachment in an email. If it is too suspicious and unexpected, do not open it!
- Your online transactions like shopping and banking, where you usually give out PINs and financial details, must only be done on your devices and your trusted network. Remember that free WiFi spots, public computers or even a friend’s phone can place your sensitive data at risk of either being stolen or copied.
- Back up your data on a regular schedule and make sure you are always using up-to-date anti-virus software.
- Always remember that Malware is usually spread from infected external hard drives, flash drives or even smartphones. You should think twice before you plug it into your devices or computers especially if it’s not yours.
- Be very smart on sharing any personal info on the social networks you use. Criminals can easily befriend an unsuspecting user (and it could be you) and thereby gain entry into your detailed and descriptive information such as when you usually go out on vacation, your workplace and when you are not home. Don’t make it too easy for them to abuse you.
- When offline, you should still have to be aware of social engineering, where criminals will try to gain certain information by way of manipulation. If a person emails or calls you and asks for sensitive info, it is alright (and safest!) to say NO. It is also advisable to call companies directly in order to verify their credibility and credentials before you give out any information.
- You should actively monitor your accounts. If anything is unfamiliar or suspicious this could be a sign that the account has been compromised.
Your PC, online banking and other security credentials should never be shared with anybody else. You have to be smarter than cyber criminals. If in doubt, there’s always information and guidance available online. Unfortunately, unscrupulous companies and individuals will continue to target the general public, because they can produce a significant amount of income even from very low “success rates” of each scam.