Many professionals assume that cybersecurity is largely the responsibility of their employers. However, knowing how to identify and prevent cyberattacks is valuable. It allows employees to do their part to keep systems secure. Additionally, it’s information you can use to ensure your personal devices are safeguarded from attacks.
By being cybersecurity aware, you’ll have an easier time making smart choices. Here are some tips that can help you protect work systems and personal devices and accounts.
Embrace Strong Passwords
In many cases, your password is the first line of defense. By using longer passwords that feature a mix of letters, numbers, symbols, and capitalization, you make them harder for hackers to guess or crack. Additionally, having unique passwords for every account ensures that one compromised password doesn’t let attackers gain access to different systems using the same credentials.
If you’re worried about remembering strong passwords, using an encrypted password manager can help. These applications store your password data securely and can even assist with complex password generation if you can’t come up with ideas.
Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security. It can work one of two ways. First, it may require an extra step every time you log into the account. Second, it might make the extra step necessary when you use a new device.
In either case, you typically enter your password, followed by a second code. That code is usually delivered to a connected email address or mobile phone number. Without that second code, you can’t gain entry into the account, which makes it harder for hackers to access it even if they know your password.
Update Security Software, Applications, and Devices
Security software like antivirus or anti-malware solutions works best when they’re updated. Every update contains code adjustments designed to protect you from the newest threats, so remaining current is essential.
Similarly, application and device updates or patches close identified vulnerabilities that attackers may exploit. By ensuring these go through quickly, you safeguard your systems against the latest threats.
Be Wary of All Links and Attachments
Many hackers are surprisingly adept at making phishing emails or other malicious messages look authentic. Often, they hope to trick you into clicking a link or attachment that will download malware or let them capture your personal information, such as login credentials or financial account data.
Be wary of any link or attachment you see in a message. Before clicking anything, assess the message’s authenticity. Hover over the sender’s email and compare it to the organization it’s supposedly from, ensuring it’s a match. Check attachments with your antivirus software before downloading.
When in doubt, contact the organization listed directly using a phone number gathered from a source other than the email or message you’re concerned about, ensuring you reach the right people. For work emails, you can also reach out to your IT department for guidance if you’re unsure.
Be Careful What You Share
Sharing information with others can increase your risk. This includes providing seemingly innocuous details to any party, as it could be an attacker gathering information on you that can be used to crack your passwords or gain access to systems and accounts. Similarly, information listed publicly on social media or similar resources can give hackers insights they can use.
Avoid sharing information unnecessarily with any parties. This includes common aspects of passwords or security questions, such as pet names, friend and family member birthdates, and more. That way, you aren’t giving attackers the information they’ll need to hack your accounts or systems.