The cyberthreat environment changes every day. New malware is developed, new social engineering tactics are deployed, and fraud is seemingly lurking around every corner. Because of the cybersecurity risk that these threats pose, we are all responsible for doing our part to keep information secure at home and at work.
Following are 12 tips to help you build a habit of cybersecurity – both personally and professionally – and defend against being the victim of a data breach.
Disrupt the Delivery Channels
Hackers are very good at tricking people to get sensitive information or unauthorized access so they can carry out an attack. You can deny them access by:
- Keeping antivirus protection up-to-date and applying security patches regularly.
- Never clicking on a link or opening an attachment in an unsolicited email.
- Never providing information to unsolicited phone calls or email requests. If you did not initiate the conversation or do not expect the request, this is a good sign you should not provide the information they are asking for.
- If you do receive an unsolicited call asking for your information, don’t give it to them! Instead, offer to call them back later.
Be Observant and Ask Questions
Hackers don’t just use electronic means to access information. Keep in mind the following tips (especially at work) to keep the bad guys out:
- Never allow strangers to “tailgate” through a secured door. While it’s a nice gesture to hold the door for strangers, don’t do it at the office when you aren’t sure if the person behind you actually works there.
- Always require a valid photo ID of anyone requesting entrance into non-public areas around the office, such as the server room or maintenance room.
- Always verify the validity of the request for entrance into secured areas. For example, if an employee (or non-employee) who does not regularly access the organization’s data center or other secure area is trying to get in, politely ask them to verify why they want access.
- Always alert management of suspicious persons or activity on company premises. If you have a feeling something isn’t right, it’s probably not. Use your instincts!
Take Control of Your Personal information
Being aware of the risks you face when online can help you make cybersecurity a habit. You can take control of your online presence by doing the following:
- Use a credit protection service and consider a credit freeze. Since the infamous Equifax breach in 2017, it’s a good idea to freeze your credit at all three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. When you need to lift the freeze – i.e. you need to get your credit pulled for a loan approval – simply contact the bureaus and lift the freeze for a set period of time.
- Never share passwords or write them down. And don’t use the same one twice! Instead, use a password manager to help you organize and keep track of personal and professional passwords.
- Use two-factor authentication whenever it’s available! Two-factor authentication – whether it’s your social media accounts, bank accounts, or work accounts – offers a critical level of protection because it will verify something in addition to your username and password before accessing your account. Learn more about two-factor authentication and why it’s necessary.
- Use all of the security features available in your social media accounts! Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have their own security features that will help keep your information more secure. For example, you can choose what information (such as birthday and hometown) is visible to people who visit your profile.
Do Your Part by Implementing These Tips Now
Most of these tips require minimal effort to implement. By simply acting upon your instincts, you will be well on your way to securing valuable information and keeping hackers out. Plus, adding these extra couple steps to protecting your credit and online accounts could save you the headache of dealing with the long-term consequences of a personal data breach. The cyberthreat environment is not slowing down any time soon, but you can always protect yourself by being aware and making use of the security features available on many of your online accounts.