According to one recent study, cybercrime in all its forms is up a massive 600% due to the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you needed a single statistic to illustrate why this is truly one of the most important issues of the modern era, let it be that one.
It’s vital to understand that you don’t have to be a celebrity or business professional to become the target of hackers with malicious intentions. Cybercrime can impact all of us, often when we least expect it. That’s why it’s crucial to learn more about the five major ways that cybersecurity impacts your everyday life – even if you don’t necessarily realize it.
- Setting Up Automatic Updates on Your Cell Phone
One of the most important steps that you can take to safeguard yourself in terms of cybersecurity involves setting up automatic updates on your cell phone as soon as you’re able to.
Yes, it’s true that companies like Apple make a big presentation every year about all the new features that operating system updates bring. Some you may be interested in, some you might not – to the point where you may think that this is something you can put off.
But the important thing to understand is that an operating system update is about more than just a new interface or a few new features. It also offers security fixes, patches, and other updates that help make your device more secure.
Every day, new vulnerabilities are being discovered and engineers are working hard to patch them. But if you don’t try to be proactive about downloading and installing those updates, you’ll remain vulnerable – meaning that your device is just waiting to be taken advantage of by someone who knows what they’re doing. Enabling automatic updates goes a long way towards preventing that.
2. Never, Ever Use the Same Password
Another important best practice to follow as you navigate the internet involves never using the same password for two different sites.
Think about it like this. You have a password that is fairly secure (meaning it uses a combination letters, numbers, and special characters) and is easy enough to remember. However, if you use it on more than one site and any one of those sites falls victim to a data breach, suddenly every account using that password becomes compromised.
If you use the same password for a digital music site and your bank, for example, and the former becomes compromised and hackers steal the data, suddenly your bank is a potential vulnerability as well. This is why you need to make an effort to use unique passwords for every site that you engage with to ensure there is no one “single point of failure” for your digital life.
Remembering all your secure passwords can be difficult, to be sure – which is why you should always employ password manager solutions like 1Password or Apple’s own iCloud Keychain to help make things easier. That way, you still get the convenience of being able to quickly log into any account you want with as few potential security downsides as possible.
3. Beware of Suspicious Links or Attachments
Whether you’re talking about personal or business email accounts, one should never, under any circumstances, click on links in emails from senders they’re unfamiliar with or download attachments that they haven’t expressly asked for. Even if the link or attachment appears to be coming from someone you know, if it seems suspicious, contact them to make sure they sent it to you.
These days, the vast majority of all malware payloads are delivered via email. These suspicious files can seem legitimate, but they’re likely malware disguised as something you may be interested in. Ransomware, for example, can be delivered over both links and file attachments. This is when the files on your hard drive are encrypted, at which point hackers will demand a ransom for you to regain access. This is a situation that you absolutely do not want to have to deal with, which is why you should avoid the situation entirely whenever possible.
4. Do Not Share Personal and Sensitive Information Online
In a lot of ways, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have made us less secure than ever. We want to share information about our family, who we’re interacting with, what we’re up to, and more with the widest audience possible. But this is also very dangerous for one important reason.
When you think about the last account that you signed up for, you were probably asked to choose several different security questions to help “protect” your account. These questions may have included your mother’s maiden name, the street you grew up on, where you were born, and more.
The problem is that if you share all this personal information online, someone could easily use that information alongside your email address to compromise the account in question. They can put in your email address, examine your social media sites for the answers to your security questions, and then change your password to whatever they’d like. They have access to your account and suddenly you’re completely cut off – which is why you should be selective in terms of what you’re posting online.
5. Embrace Two-Factor Authentication Whenever You Can
Finally, one of the most essential best practices that you can follow in terms of cybersecurity involves enabling verification and authentication options for accounts when logging in. Two-factor authentication is the biggest of these, which should be available in the settings of most accounts that you’re dealing with.
Also commonly referred to as 2FA, two-factor authentication requires two different types of verification before you’re given access to an account. One of which will almost always be your password, while the other will be a code sent to an email address or cell phone.
This is important because even if someone has access to your email address, it’s very unlikely that they’d have physical access to your cell phone as well. So, they could try to log into your account all they want, but without that special code they wouldn’t have access – thus protecting your personal information from harm.
At the same time, you would get a verification code on your cell phone that you didn’t ask for – cluing you into the fact that a security-related situation is taking place that you need to address ASAP.
In the End
Overall, it’s important to understand that in the modern era, there is very little you can do to prevent yourself from becoming the target of a cyber-attack. At this point, it’s no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.”
You can, however, prevent yourself from becoming a victim – which is what all the best practices outlined above are all about.
At Lewis University, we understand that cyber-attacks have become a national security issue – and this is one problem that shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. To combat it, we’ve dedicated ourselves to offering an advanced curriculum designed to train qualified individuals to keep data secure in all its forms – which in and of itself is the most important goal of all.
To find out more information about the major ways in which cybersecurity impacts your daily life, or to get answers to any other important questions you may have, please don’t delay – contact Lewis University today.