In a workplace where the youngest employees have never known a life offline, the illusion of digital invulnerability often takes hold. Clicks, shares, and downloads occur without a second thought. While these actions may seem harmless, the reality is far from it. The threats lurking in the digital underworld are real and ever-evolving. Through IT consulting, businesses can navigate the complex digital terrain, ensuring operations continue smoothly while minimizing risks.
Fortunately, we have some good news; you can still surf the net without being easy prey. Buckle up, because we’re about to share how you can navigate this treacherous online wilderness and come out the other side not just unscathed, but savvy.
1. Be cautious on public Wi-Fi.
Connecting to Wi-Fi on-the-go is an automatic process for a lot of people out there. You do it as you’re standing in line at the coffee shop, as you’re picking up groceries for dinner, or as you’re waiting for the dentist to see you. It’s normal, and typically, no one thinks twice about it. However, cybercriminals know that this is something we all do without a second thought, and they use that information to their advantage. They create fake Wi-Fi hotspots that look just as harmless as your home internet connection. If you connect to this illegitimate Wi-Fi, one wrong click and you run the risk of being hacked or infected with some form of malware. Because of this, you should do your best to avoid accessing personal data when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi. Keep purchases, payments, and private communication out of the mix.
2. Avoid malicious advertisements.
“Malvertising” is not just another buzzword; it’s a growing threat that can compromise your device with just a single click—or sometimes, even without one. Ransomware, one of the most notorious types of malware, can encrypt your files, holding them hostage until you pay up. So, the next time an ad promises you a deal that’s too good to be true, exercise caution. Because the true cost might be far greater than you think.
3. Update your passwords.
We all know we’re supposed to create really amazing, super-strong, totally long and incredible passwords. How many times has someone told you this before? It’s a reoccurring theme on the do’s and don’ts of online security. However, one “do” that people tend to overlook is switching out and updating these passwords on a consistent basis. This is one “do” that you can’t afford to avoid. A password should be updated every few months or so – sort of like your toothbrush. Practicing good password hygiene will keep your accounts fresh and hackers on their toes.
4. Use 2-factor authentication.
While a good, strong password is a great place to start, there are things you can do to make your good, strong password even better – like implementing 2-factor authentication. When you implement 2-factor authentication, you will be required to authenticate your credentials with two separate factors. This could be your password and a code sent to your phone. It could be your password and a security question, or it could be a pin code and your fingerprint. There are even authenticator aps now that randomly generate authentication codes on the aps stored on your physical device, preventing a hacker from being able to send an authentication code to themselves. Usually, people like to describe this as “something you know” and “something you have”, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Either way, this second factor doubles the security of your online account.
5. Log out of your accounts.
A laptop left in the front seat of a car. A phone forgotten in a grocery cart. A tablet sitting on the end of a desk. Devices disappear; they get lost, and they’re easily stolen. That’s just how the cookie crumbles. But this doesn’t mean you should give up hope when it comes to data breaches and hackings as the result of a stolen device. When preparing your devices for a potentially stolen future, you can do a variety of things – like using a passcode and downloading anti-theft apps. But one really simple thing you can do is log out of your online accounts. Do this one thing, and if a device of yours is ever stolen or lost, it won’t be so easy for people to hack into your online accounts. Think of it as digitally locking your doors whenever you step out.
6. Change your mindset.
Hackings, data breaches, viruses, and malware happen all the time to people from all backgrounds and income levels. It’s time to let go of the ‘it-won’t-happen-to-me’ mindset. Cyber threats don’t discriminate—they target everyone, regardless of status or wealth. Preparing for a cyber-attack isn’t a sign of paranoia; it’s the hallmark of being well-informed and responsible. Change your mindset and you’re already halfway to a more secure online existence.
By acknowledging the very real risks that accompany our online activities and taking the necessary steps to protect ourselves, we can continue to explore the vast digital universe—safely and intelligently. So go ahead, keep tweeting, sharing, and browsing, but this time, do it with the shield of awareness and the sword of cybersecurity.