There is much media coverage of high-profile data breaches in organizations, but cybercriminals are increasingly following community groups, schools, small businesses, and local governments.
In the Midwest alone, hospitals, libraries, electoral systems, and police departments have been hijacked by one kind or another. Cybercrime is not merely a business technology concern. Schools, scout forces, rotating clubs, and religious organizations need to know what they are looking for and how to handle it.
As an academic director at the Indiana University of a new cybersecurity clinic, I am helping students and faculty members to learn how to improve their cyber hygiene from the local, county, and state government agencies, non-profit organizations, and small enterprises. They will learn how to manage digital systems better, safeguard intellectual property and improve customer privacy.
Everyone should know the fundamental principles for protecting themselves and the groups or organizations. Here’s a brief look at some of the best cybersecurity practices that we will teach our communities to remember when they go online to work, play, or volunteer.
Use Updated Software & Apps Updated To Protect Yourself From Cybercrime
Many infringements, including one in 2017 at the Equifax credit agency that disclosed practically every US adult’s financial statements, lead to someone leaving out of date software. Most big computer firms provide regular upgrades to safeguard them from new vulnerabilities.
Keep your operating systems and software up to date. Turn on automatic updates if possible to make things easy. Also, make sure your system scans software for viruses and malware to catch anything that can happen. Some of this security is free, like Avast, which is highly rated in consumer reports.
Use Strong Passwords To Protect Yourself From Cybercrime
It’s not enjoyable to remember passwords, particularly complicated ones, so much work is done to develop better solutions. However, it is necessary for the time being that unique passwords are used, which are distinct for every website and are not easy to hack, such things as “123456” or “password.”
Choose those with a minimum length of 14 characters. Think about starting with a favorite phrase and then using each word’s first letter. Add numbers, punctuation, or complexity symbols if you choose, but length is more crucial. Make sure you change any default factory passwords, such as your Wi-Fi or home security equipment.
Use Multi-factor Authentication Methods
In many cases, users need to enter a strong password and write a code other than an application, text, or email message while signing in. It is an additional step and is not flawless, but multi-factor authentication makes it much tougher to break into your accounts by a hacker.
Whenever you have the possibility, allow for multi-factor authentication, especially for essential log-ins such as bank and credit card accounts. You might even consider having an even more advanced degree of protection from a physical, digital key that can link with your computer or smartphone.
Keep Backups Encrypted To Protect Yourself From Cybercrime
If possible, encrypt the data stored on your smartphone and PC. If a hacker steals your data, it’s all nonsense, not your banking details, for instance. This frequently involves program installation, or system settings change. Some manufacturers do so without the knowledge of users, which helps increase security for all.
For important data, such as medical or irreplaceable information, such as family photos, these backups should preferably be replicated, with one only logically connected to the primary computer and a remote computer locally on an external hard drive, such as in a cloud storage system.
Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi To Protect Yourself From Cybercrime
When you use public Wi-Fi, anyone connected to the same network can hear everything your computer sends and receives via the internet. You can use free browsers such as Tor, initially created to secure US Navy communications, encrypt traffic, and disguise online.
In addition to what goes into your browser – like Spotify Music or video in the Netflix app – you may also use a virtual private network to encrypt all your Internet traffic to make it harder for hackers, or even casual users, to snoop on you. A wide selection of free and premium VPN solutions are available.
Naturally, much more may be done by a person or organization to safeguard sensitive data. DuckDuckGo search engines don’t track users or their searches. Built-in either Windows or Mac OS – or downloaded separately – firewall software can help avoid viruses and worms entering your computers.
You might consider freezing your credit to protect yourself against data breaches at locations where your information is held, blocking anyone from applying for a credit on your behalf without your permission. It’s free. It’s free. If you have gotten notice that your data has been stolen, consider putting your credit report with a free “fraud warning.”
Nobody, company, organization, or machine can ever be 100% secure. Someone can break into even the most secure systems with patience, money, and skills. However, taking these precautions may reduce the probability of being a victim, improve the overall cyber hygiene level in your communities, and make everyone online and offline safer.