The Internet can be a dangerous space to navigate for unsuspecting users. Here are 7 cyber security tips to help you stay alert and safe online.

1. Think Before You Click

Avoid visiting unknown websites and downloading software from untrusted sources. These sites often host malware disguised as spam advertisements, links, or attachments and will automatically install upon clicking. You can download add-on features to your browser to help prevent the automatic download of content concealing harmful code.

2. Download an Anti-Virus Protection Software

Stay proactive by downloading an anti-virus software. It includes a number of programs that are designed to scan your computer’s hard drive for viruses and different types of malware. The software takes it upon itself to carry out autonomous functions to quarantine or delete infected files. While these programs have many benefits, they do have their drawbacks. On occasion anti-virus programs can accidentally register legitimate programs as viruses, blocking the user access.

3. Enable 2 Factor Authentication

A multi-factor authentication system is a simple yet effective way to protect your accounts and resources. The first layer of cyber security is your username and password, while the second layer is used to decrease the risk of your account being breached. Secondary authentication factors may include:

  1. A physical object – A mobile phone to facilitate text authentication, a bank card, an application, etc.
  2. A secret – A keyword, answer to a secret question, a PIN.
  3. A physical characteristic – Fingerprint, iris scan, voice or facial recognition, etc.

How does this help?

  1. Improved data security – A second form of identification greatly reduces the probability that a hacker can impersonate a user and gain access to their accounts and/or resources.
  2. Increased productivity and flexibility – Mobility contributes to higher productivity. A 2 factor authentication system allows employees to securely access their work virtually from anywhere around the world. Paired with a secure internet connection, this avoids putting the corporate network and the sensitive information that comes along with it at risk.
  3. Help desk/ support cost reductions – Approximately 35% of inbound calls to a help desk/customer support line is in regards to password resets. 2FA provides customers with a secure and efficient way to reset their own passwords, resulting in time and cost savings from fewer calls.

4. Keep Your Software Up-to-Date

Regular software updates are critical for your cyber security. Many harmful malware attacks take advantage of software vulnerabilities in common applications such as web browsers or operating systems. These programs need to be updated regularly in order to keep them secure and stable, as online threats are constantly evolving.

Cyber security aside, make sure to update your software regularly to remove outdated features and improve your user experience.

5. Connect to a Secure Network

Having data fall into the wrong hands is dangerous to everyone, but data leaks can be crippling to businesses. Try to connect to private, secure networks whenever possible. If connected to an insecure public network, try using a virtual private network (VPN) to protect you and your information. A VPN can be used in two scenarios, the first is to form a safe connection between a mobile device and a stationed computer in office. The second to transfer sensitive data between two physical offices.

6. Beware of Social Engineering

Social engineering is a cyber attack that relies on human interaction to gain privileged information. The success of the attack is dependent on the attacker’s ability to manipulate you into revealing confidential information or following certain actions.

Avoid opening suspicious emails

Phishing is but one of the social engineering attack techniques. These scams are disguised as email and text campaigns and they’re one of the most popular forms of attack with over 3.4 billion fake emails sent daily. The attacker reaches out by email or text under the guise of a trusted source; a real or seemingly real person, a business the victim might deal with, or a known company. The goal of the email is to convince the recipient to click a link or download an attachment. Generally a phishing campaign tries to get you to do one of two things;

  1. Hand over sensitive information i.e., a username or password
  2. Download malware – During the month of March 2016, 93% of phishing attacks contained ransomware, while the other 7% contained malware.

Be vigilant, if you come across an email that raises suspicion do your research! DO NOT open any links or attachments attached to the email. DO cross-check and confirm the news directly from the source by phoning or contacting the company through their website directly.

7. Back Up Your Data Often

Data loss is an inconvenient yet common occurrence. Whether it be the result of a cyber attack or an accident, it can be detrimental to a business. There is no fool-proof prevention method to avoid data breaches, but there is a guarantee against data loss.

It’s very important to have a good back up strategy as well as a recovery solution in place. If you need help drawing up a plan that works for you, schedule a free consultation today.