With the world shifting more and more towards remote working, with companies moving their databases online, and with millions of workers using not only computers but tablets and smartphones throughout their working day, cybersecurity has become ever more complex.
Spammers, hackers and pranksters are constantly developing their knowledge. They are honing their techniques to target individuals and companies across all platforms and formats. Large companies spend millions every year to develop sophisticated, cutting edge security to protect their systems and data.
If you have a small business or work from home you may have more limited resources to protect yourself. There are, however, plenty of steps you can take to keep your computer and other devices secure against cybercrime. Let’s take a closer look at a few.
Work and Play
If you are an at-home worker, a good first step to take is to fully separate your personal files and data from your work documents. Many people use a different computer altogether, which is the most surefire way to keep sensitive documents and data safe.
If you don’t have the budget or space for multiple machines, browse carefully and safely on the internet. Sites that cater to torrents, adult content or pirated material can compromise the security of your computer or infect it with viruses or malware. Do you need to be connected to the internet all the time?
Hackers can easily exploit computers that are always connected.
Switching your router off when you’re not using it makes you much less of a target. Use a good, reliable web browser, and if you are working on the go never leave your computer unattended. Using public wifi should be avoided if possible, as it is unencrypted and easily compromised. So if you are a fan of working in your local coffee shop or library it is prudent to use 3G/4G or secure your connection another way, with a VPN or similar.
A firewall is an easy and comprehensive way to close the ports on your computer and protect it when you are accessing the internet. Many operating systems include a firewall, so it could be as easy as enabling it in your settings.
If your OS doesn’t have one you can easily download one from the internet. Closing the ports prevents threatening material such as viruses from entering your system and spreading throughout your devices. Hardware firewalls are often built into routers, so for added security, you can check if your router has one, and simply enable it.
Antivirus and Anti-spyware Software
Any computer connected to the internet is vulnerable to viruses and spyware. Installing software to counteract this threat is easy and affordable. This type of software uses advance analysis to detect and eradicate viruses before they can become embedded, detects and removes malware and classifies software application files to assess risk.
Antivirus software often comes with a firewall, and some allow data back up to a cloud, offering a one-stop-shop solution for all your digital security. Spyware is hard to detect and hard to remove. It monitors your activity in an effort to compromise your data and learn your passwords (some spyware detects your keystrokes). Anti-spyware is an essential weapon in your security arsenal.
Again, it isn’t difficult to set up, and any financial outlay will be well worth it in the long run.
You’d be surprised at how many data breaches can be attributed to weak or obvious passwords. Hackers are adept at breaking into seemingly secure computers, and often if they are able to crack one password, they will crack the rest too. Using strong, unique passwords for every device, and even every piece of software you use pays dividends.
Also, make sure that all devices and computers are locked whenever they are not in use. Again, many security software solutions offer password generators and password managers, meaning you don’t need to keep your passwords in any document on your machine. And while this might seem like a no-brainer, never, ever tell anyone your password.
It is also bad practice to keep a written record. Change your passwords regularly, and make them strong and complex. It may be a hassle to remember them all, but the alternative is to offer your data up to hackers on a plate.
You know those emails and alerts you always ignore? When you can’t be bothered to restart your computer for an update? Well, that five minutes or so is not a waste of time, as updates to your OS and your security software are crucial in the fight against cyber attacks.
There is a constant race underway between security software developers and hackers, and those updates reflect this. So whenever you see an update ready for installation, do yourself a favor and apply it. Oh, and don’t forget to back up your files and data while you’re at it.
There are many steps you can take to secure your computer against hackers, viruses, malware and more. Taking these necessary steps to keep your computer safe should be your number one priority, giving you peace of mind to go about your everyday business.
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement.
We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re not talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.
I accepted diversity in the world and the beauty of telling your honest opinion on things.
Appreciation is everything. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
I appreciate my ability to connect with people, to share their stories.
Share with us one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
My biggest achievements are my 4 friendships for life ( Jen, Nico, Teo, Andrea – love you)!