Cybersecurity may seem overwhelming at times, but we have good news! All it takes is making a few simple changes to make a big impact on how susceptible you and your business are to today’s cyber threats. Being proactive gives you the power to stop cyber attacks in their tracks.
- Use unique and strong passwords
- Vary your usernames when possible
- Use multi-factor authentication
- Be wary of public internet connections
- Keep your information up to date
Tip #1: Use Unique and Strong Passwords
One of the easiest security best-practices to implement is changing your password. Some things to keep in mind when creating a password:
- Do not use the same password for multiple accounts! This is the easiest way for hackers to gain access to all of your information if your credentials are ever discovered or compromised from a data breach.
- Use hard to guess passwords, such as phrases, that do not contain any of your personal information such as your birthday, kids’ names, etc.
- Use special characters when possible
- Get in the habit of changing your passwords regularly
- Use a password manager if necessary, which will store your passwords for you in an encrypted vault so that you don’t need to remember all of your credentials and can generate long strings of numbers and letters without needing to type them in each time you log in
An Example of a Strong Password: WhodoesnotlikefluffyCats?2020
In the event of a data breach, unfortunately it is common that the credentials make their way to the market on the Dark Web. Dark web scanning and monitoring is a great way to make sure that any credentials associated with your email address are not found on the dark web and that you know to change these credentials immediately if they have been compromised.
Tip #2: Vary Your Usernames When Possible
Much like passwords, using different usernames across your accounts is yet another safeguard since you don’t want to guarantee that someone already has half of what they need to get into any of your accounts. More importantly, it is recommended to avoid making your username the same as your email address so that someone doesn’t have yet another piece of information that could allow them to try and reset the password on your account.
Tip #3: Use Multi-Factor Authentication
As you’re starting to see, each of these tips add layers that make it harder to crack into your accounts and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is one of the most important layers. This method will not allow you to log into an account without providing at least two different types of authentication.
Some common ways to use MFA are:
- Email or text message verification codes
- Mobile apps that generate authorization codes (i.e. Google Authenticator)
- Biometrics (fingerprints or retina scanning)
- Security questions
The harder it is to replicate or obtain, such as biometrics, the more secure the MFA method is.
Tip #4: Be Wary of Public Internet Connections
Using open wireless (Wi-Fi) connections in places like coffee shops, malls, and hospitals can be incredibly insecure and are not recommended if you’re going to be logging into any account with sensitive information (such as banking). This information is not encrypted, and the trained eye looks for this type of traffic when targeting someone to compromise.
Even Wi-Fi that’s “protected” with a password can still be unsecure, so you’re best using private and trusted networks only.
Tip #5: Keep Your Information Up to Date
Making sure that your contact information stays up to date whenever you change email addresses or phone numbers is a good way to ensure that you are receiving alerts about your account that may be warning you of suspicious or fraudulent activity.