7 ways to improve cyber hygiene

7 ways to improve cyber hygiene

Did you know that there were 11,58,208 cyber security incidents in India between the years 2020 and 2021?

Since then, according to India’s MSME, ransomware attacks have increased to over 30 million in Q3rd quarter 2022 alone.

With so many hacking attempts, how do you stay safe online?

The short answer is to practice cyber hygiene. But what is it and how do you do it? Let’s find out.

What is cyber hygiene?

Cyber ​​hygiene is a set of best practices and tools that keep your technology safe and healthy. It protects your data against theft and fraud and allows you to react quickly if an attack takes place.

On a broader scale and as stated by India’s National Cyber ​​Security Coordinator Rajesh Pant, building a culture of strong cyber hygiene is critical to protecting national security.

Ways to improve cyber hygiene

Here are 7 key ways to improve cyber hygiene and reduce the risk of a threat.

#1. Use strong passwords

It can be tempting to use passwords that are easy to remember and/or even the same password for different accounts. This makes life easier for you and cyber criminals. To prevent your password from being hacked:

  • Use a strong and unique password for each account and change it regularly.
  • Use passwords that are long and contain a combination of numbers, letters (upper and lower case) and characters.
  • Do not share them or write them down.
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If remembering them is challenging, use a password manager that will securely generate and store passwords so you only need to remember one.

#2. Use only secure Wi-Fi connections

Public Wi-Fi networks are dangerous as they can be unsecured. They may offer hackers access points to your device or the ability to set up fake or similar websites.

If you have no choice but to use public Wi-Fi, be extremely careful. Follow these simple steps:

  • Check the details of a site, as your search may have taken you to a scam site.
  • Never perform sensitive activities such as financial transactions on a public network.
  • Never use the “Auto Connect” feature when you do not know which network you are connecting to. Make sure this feature is turned off on your device.

If you have a VPN, it will reduce the risk considerably.

#3. Use a VPN

Even if you don’t use public Wi-Fi, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is invaluable. It creates a secure connection and keeps your IP address secret, ‘hides’ you and encrypts all your data.

Not all VPNs are created equal. Part of your cyber hygiene practice should be subscribing to a reputable service that offers thorough, reliable protection rather than a free service.

Doing a VPN download is not a complex matter and will make a big difference to the level of online protection you have.

#4. Beware of phishing

There is a golden rule when it comes to unsolicited electronic communications from an unknown source: don’t open it or reply. All too often, a harmless email, link or attachment is far more sinister.

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You must examine correspondence carefully before opening it. If you are using a work device, check with your company’s IT department if you are unsure or concerned.

#5. Perform regular updates and backups

No matter what type of device you use, one of the most important cyber hygiene habits is keeping all your software up to date. This includes the operating system, browser and apps. These updates keep built-in security features up to date.

It’s also important to only download updates from official sources and delete apps you don’t use. Ideally, you enable the automatic updates feature on your devices.

In addition to updates, you should back up your data. This should preferably be done to an external hard drive (not connected to the device/network) or the cloud. This has a twofold value.

First, if you lose your device or it is stolen, you retain access to your documents and files. Second, if you fall victim to a cyber attack, you can retrieve documents and files and mitigate the damage.

#6. Avoid social engineering attacks

This is something many fall prey to as it seems innocent, even funny. These attacks often take the form of posts on social media or handouts.

If you see something that asks what your favorite pet is, to tag a person or place, or name your ideal vacation spot, don’t answer. This is probably an attempt to get personal information.

If you see an offer or link promising a prize or discount, don’t click on it. The rule of thumb is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is and may well be dangerous too.

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#7. Install antivirus and firewall protection

Investing in a reputable antivirus is worth it, as it scans the websites you visit, the emails you receive and the hard drives you connect to. This software no longer only checks for viruses and other malware. It is designed to check for activity on your device that looks suspicious. Once identified, the malware can be isolated and dealt with.

Good antivirus software usually includes firewalls. These are designed to specifically look at incoming and outgoing connections. If a fraudulent connection is detected, the flow of information is immediately blocked.

In Conclusion

Basic cyber hygiene rules are simple. Use strong passwords, invest in robust VPN and antivirus software, avoid unsecured connections, perform regular updates and backups, and be mindful when opening emails, links and attachments.

Once you adopt these common habits and routines, you will enjoy a greatly increased level of security!

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