Data breaches, identity theft: 5 ways to stay cyber-safe this World Password Day
Every first Thursday in May, tech-enthusiasts around the world promote better cybersecurity practices to mark World Password Day.
So, why are solid passwords essential? For starters, passwords are critical gatekeepers to our digital identities.
With safe passwords and cybersecurity measures in place, we can safely do our online shopping, use our social media platforms, engage in online banking, and safely work without data breaches.
The abrupt transition to remote work due to the impact of COVID-19, however, has forced organisations, both big and small, to scramble to support their workforce, often neglecting to implement sound cybersecurity practices.
There are cybersecurity risks associated with working from home, from using unsecured wifi connections to using employer-issued devices for entertainment purposes which increases cybersecurity risks.
Conversely, when employees work from the office, they execute their tasks behind layers of preventive security controls. Once these devices leave the perimeters of the office, new risks arise.
Cybercriminals all over the world see the shift to remote work as an opportunity for a cyberattack. Defences are down — many remote workers are under-equipped to work from home safely thanks to their unsecured connections and technologies.
Based on HLB’s Cybersecurity Report, global businesses have seen a 65% rise in cyberattacks, noting they have either been breached or exposed to an attack. “Our experts’ overwhelming opinion is that phishing attacks are increasing, and highlight that social engineering is also rising.”
With 90% of successful cyberattacks coming down to human error, there is a lot remote workers can do to protect themselves and their organisations. In honour of World Password Day 2021 — here’s what you can do to step up your cybersecurity game:
Use a secure wifi
Rule number one? Avoid public wifi’s as there are significant risks associated with using it.
Public wifi is insecure as other people have access to these networks and, without a firewall in between, cybercriminals can gain access to your computer or even plant malware.
Alternatively, use your smartphone’s hotspot instead as it reduces the risks of you getting hacked by others. Mobile hotspots are safe only when you have a strong password to the hotspot’s access point.
When working from home, ensure that you change your default username and password to prevent cybercriminals from accessing the network settings.
Manage your passwords
These tools enable businesses to use unique, secure passwords for every platform.
Use anti-virus protection and firewall
Downloading anti-virus software is one of the easiest things you could do to prevent malicious cyberattacks. They can block malware and other malicious viruses from entering your device and prevent them from compromising your data. Be sure to only use anti-virus software from a trusted vendor and only run one tool at a time.
Using a firewall is just as important. A firewall helps screen out hackers, viruses, and other virtually dangerous activities from occurring over the internet — they can either be software or hardware.
A firewall also determines what traffic is allowed to enter your device. Both Microsoft and Apple devices come with their respective firewalls, aptly named Windows Firewall and Mac Firewall. Your router should also have a firewall built in to prevent attacks on your network.
Do not delay updates
Programmes and operating systems are updated regularly to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting an online vulnerability.
You’ll want to ensure your operating system is running the latest version at all times. Pro-tip: enable automatic updates to make sure your systems stay secure.
A simple cybersecurity course will teach you how to protect operating systems, networks, and data. Different modules will have a different focus, but the overall goal remains the same: to help individuals develop the skills needed to prevent cyberattacks. An added bonus? You’ll gain some additional skills to showcase on your resume.
IBM offers the Introduction to Cybersecurity Tools & Cyber Attacks course for free on Coursera. In just 20 hours, this beginner-level course gives participants the background needed to understand basic cybersecurity measures.
Alternatively, Google offers the IT Security: Defense against the digital dark arts programme for free, also via Coursera. In just 29 hours, enrollees learn the basics of IT security concepts, tools, and best practices.