October might make you think of Halloween and pumpkin spice lattes, but it has also been known as Cybersecurity Awareness Month since its founding in 2004. It’s the official yearly reminder to take a moment and give your data privacy practices a check-up. Although this may not seem as fun as trick-or-treating, if you use a computer or cell phone to make purchases or run a business, October is an important time to give some energy to protecting your online presence.
Long gone are the days when you were fine to keep re-using the same password over and over again. According to security.org, over 24 million households in the United States have been victims of account takeover fraud, 58 percent of which occurred in the last 12 months. And on the commercial side, according to IBM, the average cost of a business data breach in 2021 was $4.24 million. That is no small chunk of change. So whether you’re a consumer or a business owner, cybersecurity is worth knowing about.
6 Tips For Practicing Better Cybersecurity In 2022
Tip #1: Use A Strong And Protective Password Manager
What is a password manager, you may be asking? Password managers are encrypted databases that typically use one complex password to safeguard all other passwords. They can then help generate complex passwords for each account without you having to memorize them all. More than 80 percent of breaches stem from weak or compromised login credentials, so it's more important than ever to use a strong, unique password for each account.
Tip #2: Enable Multi-Factor Authentication Everywhere Possible
Even with the growing use of password managers, there's more that you can do to keep your accounts and information secure. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra locked door of security to your account. It comes in many different forms, from a code that arrives in an email or text message to a secure token tied to your account. However, Security.org states that 13 percent of account hacks used two or multi-factor authentication. Building up your layers of security will close that gap.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggests creating a backup of your files is essential protection for any sort of data loss—like damage, failure or fraud. The most common backup solution is known as the "3-2-1" rule, which means that there are three copies of backed-up data: One copy is on your computer; the second is copied onto an external data drive; and lastly, data is backed up to an off-site location like cloud storage or server solution.
Tip #4: Keep Your Devices Up To Date
Software and hardware manufacturers periodically release updates primarily designed to fix any bugs affecting users. But these updates also include security patches to solve potential issues and protect your data from hackers. Most apps and even operating systems offer an "automatic update" option, which will download and install updates whenever they become available. Using outdated software can be a recipe for disaster as potential security breaches can more likely occur.
Tip #5: Be Wary Of What You Click
In today's world, there are more phishing attacks than ever before. One of the most common occurrences is receiving an email that looks as though it's from a reliable company or professional superior. It's more important than ever to hover your mouse pointer over links in an email and to check the sender’s email address. If anything looks suspicious, play it safe and get a trusted person’s opinion or delete it. Also, some email providers (Gmail and Outlook are two) have phishing and spam tags that automatically report the issue for investigation.
Tip #6: Get To Know The 5 Cs of Cybersecurity
Last but not least, to fully harness the ins and outs of cybersecurity, it's good practice to learn and implement the "5 Cs." Consider all five elements when determining your or your business’s digital protection policy to keep your data as secure as possible.
Change: Change is always happening online and as the internet continues to evolve, so does how accounts can be created, accessed, protected and breached. Be willing to change your passwords and cybersecurity strategies to be the most secure with the technology of the times.
Compliance: Compliance laws and safety guidelines have become an entire industry in and of themselves, but that’s for a good reason—they’re put in place to help protect any end-user from being hacked. Do research before signing up for a service online to make sure the companies and organizations have a clean digital record.
Coverage: Coverage, or broad protection, for businesses is especially important. Ensure your business cybersecurity plan protects you through expansions and changes. This includes covering customer data as well as internal corporate data.
Cost: Evaluate cost along with features and benefits before purchasing any cybersecurity service. Businesses maybe want a more pricey and robust service that can protect files and passwords. An everyday citizen may be okay with a free service that banks and encrypts passwords.
Continuity: Keep continual access to your accounts and information. Many of us know how disruptive an account hack can be; you can make sure life doesn’t get disrupted, but the continuity of access is possible via reliable encryption services.
The article '6 Must-Know Tips And Tools For Cybersecurity Awareness Month' was written by Andrew Myrick.