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Cyber Safety Essentials

We are digitally connected to a greater extent as time and technology progress, which indicates using “cyber smarts” is more critical than ever. This year’s high-profile events include the SolarWinds and Kaseya breaches as well as attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and other critical infrastructure. Cyber-attacks are more sophisticated and bad actors are more evolved. Below are ways to mitigate risk and stay one step ahead of malefactors.

Enable MFA. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds a second verification of your identity when logging in to an account. By requiring multiple methods of authentication your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a bad actor hijacks your password. MFAs make it more difficult for password cracking tools to enable attackers to break into accounts.

Use strong passphrases and a password manager. Firstly, using long, complex, and unique passphrases is a good way to stop your account from being hacked. Secondly, an easy way of keeping track of and remembering your passwords is by using a password manager. A password manager is a software application designed to store and manage online credentials. Usually, these passwords are stored in an encrypted database.

Perform software updates. When a device prompts a software update, it may be tempting to simply click postpone and ignore the message. However, using the latest security software, web browser, and operating system is one of the best defenses against online threats. So, don’t wait—update.

Research before downloading. Before downloading anything new, such as apps, ensure that it’s safe by undertaking these three steps: Check who created the app, read user reviews, and review published articles about its privacy and security features.

Check your settings. Double check your privacy and security settings diligently. Monitor who can access your documents, which extends to Google docs, Zoom calls, and beyond. For meetings on Zoom, for example, create passwords so only those invited to the session can attend and restrict who can share their screen or files with the rest of the attendees.

Following these tips is easy and free. No single tip is foolproof but used together they make a significant difference. Protecting your online presence is the best way to prevent cyber-attacks. These preventive measures and online safety habits exponentially decrease your odds of being hacked — and also prevent lost time and money.

Resources: The National Cyber Security Alliance

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