Cybersecurity awareness is one of the most important aspects of digital safety for home and business users alike. While it may seem like something that’s just for IT professionals and hackers, anyone with a smartphone or laptop needs to be aware of how their personal information can be compromised. While cybersecurity awareness month has already passed, here are 10 ways to improve cybersecurity awareness as we head into 2023.
What Is Cybersecurity Awareness?
Cyber awareness is the process by which organizations educate their employees about cyber security risks and help them understand what they need to do in order to prevent or minimize those risks. Cybersecurity awareness training focuses on providing employees with information about the various ways cyberattacks can occur, as well as how to protect themselves, their devices, and their data.
Why Is Cybersecurity Awareness Important?
Cybersecurity awareness is critically important because it helps employees understand their organization’s policies and procedures around the use of information systems, software, and networks. Cybersecurity awareness is distinct from cybersecurity in that an individual’s compliance with policy may be more a matter of user behavior than setting up proper technical controls. For example, if you have an approved firewall solution but still find yourself using the employee network for personal activities (like surfing gambling sites), your company has a problem with cyber awareness rather than cyber security.
Use Multi-factor Authentication Across Your Accounts
Single-factor authentication, or SFA, is a login process that checks just one thing. That thing could be something like your username and password or even your social security number (if you’re in the US).
The problem with this kind of authentication is that it’s simple to hack with the right tools. Your passwords can be guessed by anyone who wants them badly enough—and they often are—so if someone figures out your password and gains access to your account through SFA, they can easily steal all of your data or implement ransomware.
If you only implement one of our cybersecurity awareness tips, make it this one. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) provides a way to add an extra layer of security to an online account. Simply put, MFA requires at least two types of information in order to log in. It’s not just one password and you’re done—you have to provide something else that only you know or have with you.
That something else could be a keycode sent over SMS text message, biometric authentication like fingerprints or face recognition (Apple’s Face ID as an example), inputting one-time passcodes generated by apps on your phone (like Google Authenticator), or even using your smartwatch as an authenticator device.
But of course, MFA isn’t for your convenience—it’s for your safety. Implementing MFA is considered one of the critical email security best practices.
Here's how it works:
You log into your account with your username and password.
Then, you receive a push notification to confirm that it really is you logging in. If it’s not, the hacker will have to figure out what app sent the notification and break into that account first. Not easy!
Stop Re-using Passwords Across Multiple Websites
One of the easiest ways to make your online life more secure is to stop re-using passwords across multiple websites. The problem with this habit is that if one site suffers a data breach and your password is compromised, hackers can use that same password on other sites where you may have an account. Password reuse also makes it easier for hackers or software tools to crack your passwords (particularly when they’re weak).
For these reasons, everyone should be using a separate password for every website they visit. If you find yourself struggling to remember all those different passwords, consider using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password, which will generate random passwords for each website and store them in an encrypted database that only you can access.
Don’t Open Attachments or Click on Links From Unsolicited Emails or Texts
You should never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or texts. You should also be cautious of clicking on links and opening attachments in social media posts, even if you know the person who posted them. If you are unsure about whether an email or text is authentic, call the company to verify its authenticity before responding.
Be aware that some criminals create fraudulent websites with very similar names to actual businesses’ websites to steal login credentials and other sensitive information from unsuspecting users.
Minimize What you Share on Social Media
When it comes to social media, the best advice is to limit what you share and never click on direct messages from people you don’t know. You should also be aware of the security settings on your social media accounts. For example, if you have a Facebook account, make sure that your default privacy settings are set to “Friends Only” so that only people in your network can see posts and photos shared on your page. If you frequently use the “check in” option to let your friends know where you are – it’s essential that you lock down your profiles. You should also avoid posting and letting people know when you’re traveling or on vacation.
Use a Password Manager That Generates Random Passwords
A password manager is a program that stores all of your passwords in an encrypted database. The master password to access this database is usually something you can remember, but no one else can guess, like a song lyric or phrase. You then use the password manager to generate random passwords for each new website login. This way, if one site gets hacked and has its user data stolen, there’s no way for hackers to guess your password on other sites because they don’t have it!
You’ll also want to consider using two-factor authentication (covered in this first part of this article) where possible—this way, even if someone gets their hands on one of your email addresses or phone numbers, they’ll still need additional information before being able to log into any accounts associated with those credentials.
Use a VPN When on Public Wi-Fi
A VPN is a service that encrypts your data and routes it through a private network. This allows you to create a secure connection to the internet when you’re using public Wi-Fi.
Public Wi-Fi connections are not always as secure as they appear, so it’s important to use them safely. A VPN will protect you from hackers and snoopers on these networks, even if they offer encryption themselves. There are free and paid VPN services available, so consider which one is right for you based on your needs and preferences. Popular ones include ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
Change Your Device Privacy Settings
You can turn off location services on your smartphone or tablet. This is one of the easiest ways to protect your privacy because it prevents apps from tracking you and phishing personal data.
Android and iPhone devices also allow you to control which apps have access to your photos. This setting is a simple way to control apps scanning your database and having access to your EXIF data which includes location information on where the photo was data.
Keep Your Software Up-to-date
Update software as soon as notifications arrive about new versions available for download. This includes Windows, macOS, Android, and iPhone. For the apps you use, ensure that you are installing the latest version of your software, and keep it updated regularly.
Minimize What Information you Share Online
One of the easiest ways to fall victim to a cyberattack is by sharing your personal information online. You may think that you can trust an organization with your personal data, but there are many instances where companies have been hacked, and millions of records were stolen.
For example: In 2018, Uber paid $148 million in fines after they revealed they had been using a program called “God View” that allowed employees to track users’ locations without their consent or knowledge.
What qualifies as personal information? Any piece of data which can be used to identify an individual, including:
Social Security Number
Before giving out your personal information online, consider: do I need to give them this information? What happens if I don’t? How will they use it? What are the consequences of not giving them this information? Part of essential cybersecurity awareness heading into 2023 is asking questions and being curious when people ask for your personal information online. If you’ve given out your email address quite a bit, consider switching to a secure email provider at some point in the future.
Wrap up on Cybersecurity Awareness Tips for 2023
We hope these cybersecurity tips will be a useful resource for you in your online activities. Remember that keeping yourself safe online is a lifelong process, so it’s important to stay vigilant and keep up with the latest developments in this field. For more information about how we can help secure your business or organization, please contact us today!
The future of email is here,
are you ready for it?
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