As you may know October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Here at Odesso, cybersecurity is paramount. Although we're now a week into November, cybersecurity is always on our minds. Technology is ever-changing so we understand that it can be daunting to try and keep up with everything all the time. We'd like to do our part in spreading the awareness about cybersecurity with a few simple tips.
1. Great Passwords
Yes, it's easier to make a simple password that's easy to remember and then use it for all of your logins, but taking a few minutes to make a strong and unique password for each account can save you a lot of trouble by greatly decreasing the likelihood of getting hacked. Getting hacked can sometimes take days, weeks, or even months to fully recover from depending on the circumstances. A stronger password uses a variety of numbers, letters, and symbols. It's 12 or more characters long and doesn't feature any words in it. These types of passwords are inherently harder to memorize. An encrypted password management program can remedy the hassle of committing these random letters, numbers, and symbols to memory.
Note: Passwords should be reset every 30 days for personal accounts and every 15 days for shared accounts. Also be sure to set up two-factor authentication whenever possible!
2. Regular Back Ups
Cyber attacks can have various outcomes including damaged hardware, data loss, or even needing to reinstall programs or operating systems. Backing up files and data to the cloud is recommended because it stores the information on external servers, working as the ultimate safety net in the case of data loss. Back ups should be done on a regular basis and can even be setup to automatically run.
3. Regular Updates
Simple, right? New versions of software are typically released on a predictable basis. Updates are made to enhance the user experience and also to enhance security. Cyber criminals are constantly adapting, so the simple act of updating software on your computer and phone can ensure that you're up to date and safe from some of the latest security risks. Some software can be set up to auto-update!
4. Strict SSL Mode
Try to limit your internet use to your own personal devices and browse on your own private network as often as possible. It's especially important to only do sensitive browsing (like shopping, banking, or any other browsing that deals with personal information) on your own device and network.
Also, be sure to change your WiFi password on a regular basis. If you absolutely must use a public network, make sure to use an encrypted VPN service to protect your information while browsing. Lastly, avoid using personal information for sites that do not have a secure URL. Secure URLs begin with the letters "HTTPS". The "S" stands for Secure. If a site is only has "HTTP" in its URL it can not be guaranteed to be secure.
5. Phishing & Spam
The email inbox has become a popular place for cyber criminals. The most common type of suspicious emails is the phishing email. A phishing email is a carefully crafted message that's intended to look like an official notice but is actually a fraudulent email. Typically these emails pose as messages from companies that you actually have an account with (such as your bank, credit card company, a social network that you're a part of, etc). In the email they will likely alert you that you must sign in or confirm login credentials or other sensitive information. Sometimes they can be posing as companies that you don't have an account with, which is an even bigger red flag. The bank, IRS, social media platforms, and other established organizations do not randomly ask their users for sensitive information in this manner.
If you receive any suspicious email like this, it is best to avoid any engagement with the email and contact the official customer service of the company directly via phone or an in-person visit to confirm whether or not the message is legitimate.
6. Firewall & Anti-virus
Why do we say "take advantage"? Because they are often overlooked, yet they are one of the easiest precautions you can take. They can easily be installed (from a reputable, secure site of course!) and can be run on your computer on a daily basis. Some of these programs are even programmable to auto-scan at your preferred frequency. Many schools and companies offer licenses to these programs for free. And even if you can't get your hands on them for free, they are relatively cheap to purchase nowadays.