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Seven Critical Information Security Tips to Follow Today

2/27/2018 11:10:00 AM

security tips

With more information being accessible than ever before, it is vital to understand the role of information security.

In 2017, more than 150 countries were targeted and infected with ransomware and the global economy realized multibillion-dollar losses due to cyberattacks. According to the Pew Research Center, 64% of Americans reported being a victim of a major data breach.

Keeping your information private is more difficult than ever, but fortunately, there are ways that you can protect yourself and your confidential information. Enhance your personal and business cyber security with these effective strategies:

Increase the Complexity of Your Security Answers

Many sites allow users to input security questions and answers to reset their forgotten passwords. However, many common questions such as “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What is the name of the city where you were born?” can easily be found through a search of public records. Using these common questions can make it easier for hackers to gain access to your private information.

Rather than using such common questions with obvious answers that hackers can discover through search engines and reading an online profile, use an answer that someone cannot guess. Try using an answer with irrelevant numbers and symbols.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi

You may have seen warning messages pop up when you are on public Wi-Fi. This is because unprotected free Wi-Fi is a fertile ground for hacker attacks. Hackers can intercept your data and use it unscrupulously.

If you must use public Wi-Fi, take precautionary steps such as turning off your file sharing setting on your computer and avoid signing into a site that requires a password unless you are connected to a VPN.

Keep All Applications Up-to-Date

Ransomware attacks can cause major havoc for businesses and consumers. These attacks are some of the most expensive. Cyber security experts predict that cybercrime damages will amount to $6 trillion by 2021. Ransomware attacks alone account for over $5 billion.

Software updates help patch outdated software and make programs and hardware more secure. These patches remove critical vulnerabilities that opportunistic hackers infiltrate to access devices and confidential information.

It is easier to update software when this process is completed automatically. Some ways to streamline this process include:

  • Turn on automatic system updates for each device that you own. Check each device for the process to complete this automation.
  • Ensure your desktop’s web browser has automatic security updates enabled.
  • Update your web browser plug-ins.

Secure Your Mobile Device

Today’s consumers shop and use their mobile devices more than other devices to complete online transactions. McAfee Labs reports that mobile devices are the target of more than 1.5 million new incidents of malware.

There are several ways to secure your mobile device, starting with the basic installation of the device.

  • Protect your phone with a strong password that someone who stole your confidential information would not know.
  • Only install apps that originate from trusted sources.
  • Keep your device updated with all new security patches.
  • Avoid sending private information via email or text message from your phone.
  • Set up software that will allow you to remotely delete the information on your phone if it is ever lost or stolen.

Use Secure Sites

When you are shopping online or visiting other websites where you may store financial information, stick to secure sites, which are denoted with an “s” after the http.

Also, check that there is a padlock icon in the URL field. These are indicators that it is a secure website that uses encryption to protect your financial data.

Avoid Phishing Scams

Hackers try to infiltrate operating systems and devices through a variety of methods, including links and attachments in emails. In these schemes, the attacker pretends to be someone else in order to get the victim to send confidential information or to get the victim to click on a corrupt link. Research shows that 93% of ransomware attacks originate as a phishing scam.

Some best practices to avoid these scams include:

  • Avoid unknown sites or downloading software from sources with which you are not familiar.
  • Do not click on links or attachments in emails from unknown sources.
  • Use a browser add-on feature that prevents plug-in content or scripts from automatically downloading content.
  • Hover over a link so that you can see where it will take you before you click on it.

Protect Your Confidential Data

Protect any confidential data that you store on your computer, mobile device or other devices connected online. Use encryption tools that are built into your operating system to protect sensitive data and files. Restrict the public nature of social media posts. Review privacy settings across various platforms. Be sure that you remove sensitive data from your hard drive before you dispose of your computer.

 

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